A new speaker series at the Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre is kicking off this month and continuing through February. One Earth.
A new speaker series at the Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre is kicking off this month and continuing through February. One Earth.
The Seymour Salmonid Society is marking a “mile-stone” of sorts July 10th. The organization is inviting the public and other guests to join them in society’s Rockslide Opening Ceremony.
“We are hoping this is our last summer of the rockslide mitigation project,” said Reese Fowler, volunteer coordinator for the Seymour Salmonid Society.
The society is leading a walk July 10th at 1 p.m. from the north end of Riverside Drive to the presentation site for 1:30 p.m. at Fisherman’s Trail. There will be presentations from partners like the Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, government representatives and other stakeholders.
“Part of the reason the ceremony is where it is, is because it overlooks the actual site,” said Fowler. “Anyone coming up can see the scar on the side of the canyon and the boulders in the river. Some of these rocks are huge – one of them is called a house rock because it is a big as a house. Others used to be the size of a car and our aim is to blast them down to the size of a microwave.”
An early morning in December 2014 saw nature dramatically change the Seymour River. The normal freeze-thaw cycle created a dramatic rock fall. About 80,000 cubic metres of rock entered the river with about 30,000 washing away and leaving 50,000 cubic metres in the river.
“A rockslide broke off the canyon walls and completely blocked the river channel,” said Fowler. “It created a lake upstream of the river. The big thing is it prevented returning salmon and steelhead from being able to move up the watershed to be able spawn.”
This lead to some creative planning and a multi-year project to re-open the channel and improve young salmon habitat.
“The Society has been managing a project of rock drilling and rock blasting so we can get salmon into the upper watershed again. This is the third year and hopefully the last,” said Fowler. “In the last three years we have also been doing a Trap and Truck program in the lower river. When the salmon arrive in to the river they are captured in nets and taken to trucks and physically moved upstream of the rockslide and released. It’s a lot of manual labour and volunteer assistance to get that to happen. Some fish are taken to the hatchery as well as for breed stock to support the number of salmon that are able to spawn naturally in the river.”
The ongoing project has seen a number of highs and lows.
“Last year was a very poor salmon run,” said Fowler. “We managed to only move 140 fish to the upper river, but in 2017 we were able to get close to 2000. We are hoping this is the last year with trap and truck and that next year the fish will be able to move up naturally. The hope is that we will have spawning salmon in the river in the years to come.”
The opening of the Seymour River is one part of a larger plan to improve the habitat for salmon.
“We have drilling contractors there during the week drilling holes and at the end of the week they fill up the holes with explosives and they set off the charge,” said Fowler. “They repeat to create a smoother path. For the salmon it’s about gradient, it can’t be too steep or have too big a jump. We are trying to smooth it to about a 7 per cent gradient.
“During the summer we do rock breaking but the rocks are in still in the channel. In the fall when the heavy rains come we let the river do it’s natural cleaning process and move those rocks along. We hope there will be some decent rain and it will flush the remaining rocks out and clear a path that will enable the salmon to through.”
Besides the paid professionals dealing with the slide, there is also a roster of 950 volunteers that support the Seymour Salmonid Society throughout the year. The rockslide project has a budget of about $1.2 million – all from donations and government support.
“It’s a lot money but its a drop in the bucket for the wider ecosystem restoration we are trying to do,” said Fowler. “Creating passage is one thing but you then have to create the habitat to spawn in as well. It’s about creating off-channel habitats – river gravels and ponded areas so the young salmon and steelhead can live. They live in fresh water for a year before they move out of the system into the ocean. We create the habitat for the young fish to grow to a decent size and survive the two to three years they need to before returning.”
The Society is working on 40,000 square metres of habitat compensation in the 15 km river between the mouth and the Seymour dam.
“It’s an interesting dynamic here in that the Seymour River is quite a steep sided valley so there aren’t a lot of the flat areas next to the channel to find those spots and create that habitat,” said Fowler. “It’s a challenge but most of the spots we have found can be used to increase that habitat area.”
Images courtesy of the Seymour Salmonid Society and Sage Fly Fish.
With 75 years under their boots the Lynn Valley Garden Club has taken their plants from Victory Gardens to trendy succulents. The club is expanding its popular annual plant sale to celebrate its diamond anniversary May 18th from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at St. Stephens Church.
Lynn Valley trail runner Julie Flynn has taken her experience in the forest and created a adventure story to help children be prepared for the outdoors.
Signs have been popping up and down seasonally along local streams and creeks in a partnership between the North Shore Streamkeepers and the District of North Vancouver to raise awareness of sensitive salmon habitat.
For the past two fall/winter seasons the North Shore StreamKeepers have placed signs around sensitive fish habitat – like Hastings Creek in Hunter Park – asking owners to keep their dogs out of the water.
“There is a season when fish are vulnerable,” explained Janet Dysart, North Shore Streamkeeper overseeing Hastings Creek. “There are eggs present on the creek bed and when the alevin [juvenile salmon] are out swimming around.”
There are times when the creeks are low – August/September – when fish are less at risk and entering creeks presents little risk, she said. However, during the late fall and early winter the eggs and fish are especially vulnerable.
“Disturbing the gravel creekbed can destroy eggs,” said Dysart. “Mostly we are concerned about bacteria and fecal contamination putting the young fish at risk. I know we can’t do anything about wildlife but we should try and do what we can to limit our impact.”
Hastings Creek is home to Coho salmon. It is natural habitat as well as the recipient of alevin stocking from education programs at local schools.
“Think about where the salmon are coming from,” said Dysart. “It’s amazing the journey they have had to return to Hastings Creek. We can’t protect it all but the least we can do is try our best.”
In Hunter Park, Dysart draws attention to the wetland environments that border some of Hastings Creek calling the areas particularly sensitive to both human and animal feet.
“We want people to be aware – if we are not we might lose – it.
Later this month the North Shore Streamkeepers are hosting a workshop in the honour of the International Year of the Salmon.
February 23rd they will be hosting a panel discussion with representatives from the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans and local experts. Workshop on the Wild Salmon Policy Implementation Plan: Moving from Policy to Action will be held in the Arbutus Room at the Delbrook Community Recreation Centre, Saturday February 23rd from 1:30-4 p.m. They have also confirmed the attendance of a number of local politicians, members of the legislature and Federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Jonathan Wilkinson. The public is welcome to attend and participate, register in advance here.
The North Shore Streamkeepers meet every second month at the District of North Vancouver Hall. The next meeting is March 13 at 7 p.m. For more information visit their website.
Two Lower Mainland farms are growing their food and delivering it to Lynn Valley giving true farm to table options for local families. One Argyle grad is working the soil near Pemberton, while a lawyer-turned-farmer is guiding three generations on a farm on the Sumas Prairie.
Both small farms offer a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program delivering a box of fresh seasonal fruits and veggies each week or biweekly. The goal is to bring the public and farmers closer together. Members of the CSA program pay in advance for their share which helps farms with start up costs and in-season income fluctuations.
What you need to know
There are two great programs servicing Lynn Valley. CSA programs typically sell out each year, so if you want to sign up get it done early. Even if the websites aren’t quite ready for the summer 2019 season, sign up for their email lists and get notified of their program kick off.
Argyle grad Naomi Martz has leased 10 acres of land near Pemberton on the traditional territory of the Lil’wat Nation. Four Beat Farm grows 35 different products for its CSA box. Four Beat Farm is Certified Organic, which means no GMOs or synthetic fertilizers are present on the farm and its methods are third-party verified. They are certified by the Biodynamic Agricultural Society of BC (BDASBC 10*500-40), and use biodynamic growing practices that focus on soil health and creating regenerative farm systems.
A unique feature of Four Beat Farm are its “solar tractors” – their draft horses. The farm uses horses rather than vehicles to work the fields reducing its use of fossil fuels and providing essential compost.
Four Beat Farm delivers biweekly to Lynn Valley on Wednesdays. As a member of the CSA you (or someone you ask) must pick up your box from 3-5:30 p.m. They send out a reminder each week. Last year the season was scheduled from August 15 to October 24 for a total harvest season of 12 weeks and an extra-large “double share” of storage crops planned to enjoy late into the fall at the final pickup.
In 2010 newly minted lawyer Andrew Arkenstyn-Vogler hung up his robes and started a new dream with his parents – an 11 acre farm in Abbotsford. They have been working the land focusing on sustainability and organic certification. The home farm is certified by the Pacific Agricultural Certification Society, while their extended land is organic transitional.
Crisp Organics runs a large CSA program and serves many farmer’s markets. They grow an array of seasonal vegetables with a focus on greens. They also partner with other organic growers at times to add diversity to their offerings.
The farm’s summer CSA program runs from May 3 to October 25. They deliver once a week to a location near Argyle Secondary. Unique to Crisp Organics – it offers an option to add SPCA certified eggs to your weekly box. If you sign up before the end of February with the code EARLYBIRD you will get a box weekly box free!
We all love a real Christmas tree and all of the decorations and lights that make the holidays shine in the dark winter. But as the season comes to a close, we have a list of local options for chipping and recycling.
Lynn Valley Lions – January 5 & 6 – Lynn Valley Legion
You can sign up when you purchase your tree from the Lynn Valley Lions and they will pick up your tree on Jan. 5 or 6 and chip it for you for a $20 donation. Talk about making it easy.
You can also bring your tree by yourself from noon – 4 p.m.
Scouts Canada – January 5 & 6 – St. Clements Church
The local Scouts are back offering their chip-up by donation at St. Clements Church. The funds raised well fund outdoor activities and programs for local youth.
Strings of lights can be taken to the North Shore Transfer station.
Four years after a rockslide dramatically changed the Seymour River the replacement pedestrian bridge at Twin Bridges will open as early as late this month.
In November 2014 following a severe rainstorm a landslide entered the Seymour River.
“The rockfall was about three-quarters of a kilometer downstream of the original Twin Bridges site,” said Heidi Walsh, director of watersheds and environmental management for Metro Vancouver. “And we had about 50,000 cubic metres of rock come into the river.”
With the debris entering a steep canyon it caused an approximately 800m backup that pools into a pond which drains in the summer but during the winter remains backed up, explains Walsh.
“When the rock fall originally came down the water backed up high enough to go over top of the bridge,” said Walsh. “We had to take the railings off as an emergency measure and wait for the water to recede. Then we took it out in late January.
“I think everybody understood that it was safety issue. There are provincial standards that require a certain amount of free board [space between the water and bridge] during storm events so the bridge was no longer in compliance with those standards.”
The impact of that 2014 storm also extend to trails, resulting in a number of closures and detours.
The project encountered several challenges and delays. The replacement project was designed with three bridges – a replacement pedestrian suspension bridge at Twin Bridges, a new vehicle crossing at Riverside Drive and a temporary bridge to help accomplish the project – along with some trail building. Originally the project was put to tender in 2016 as separate projects.
“The price came back much higher than we anticipated,” said Walsh. “We tried again by packaging the suspension bridge and the vehicle bridge together and again it came back too high – almost double our approved budget.”
She attributes the challenges to poor timing – high project volumes offered to construction firms by the provincial government.
“We asked our board for a little bit more money and decided to package everything together as one big project,” said Walsh. With a successful tendering process completed in January, construction began this spring.
This winter the public will be able to take its first steps over the new pedestrian suspension bridge.
“It’s not a swinging suspension bridge,” said Walsh. “It’s very stable. We designed it so that you could ride over it with your horse – so the railings are high and it’s very solid. It is meant for bikers, hikers and horses so it won’t move when you’re on it.”
The change in river flow had significant impact on the final design, she said. Originally a vehicle bridge was considered for maintenance and emergency access (and completed at Riverside Drive in the final project). The steep slope that approaches Twin Bridges would require the bridge to be raised up resulting in a much longer bridge deck than the previous bridge, said Walsh. The east side’s bedrock also created issues for a landing substantial enough for vehicle traffic resulting in a project that would have been much larger than the previous bridge and more expensive than ever planned, she said.
“The bridge needs to be able to withstand a one in 200 year flow event so you need to be have a certain amount of room under the bridge to allow for water, debris and rocks move underneath,” said Walsh. “So in order to get that standard we had to raise the bridge up.
“It is slightly downstream from the original bridge so we had to build short access ramps to get to it on the west side. We had to put in a short 150m trail spur. The main concern on the other side is a mountain bike trail called Bottletop. We are very close to where it used to exit onto Fisherman’s Trail so we had to do a little bit of redesign with that exit.”
At this point the bridge is almost complete. Once the temporary bridge is removed and the site cleaned-up Walsh expects the official opening to be between late November and mid-December.
“We are a little behind schedule there because we needed to do some redesign of the anchors on the east side,” she said. “The towers are there now, the bridge approaches are there, the anchors are all in. They really just need to string the cables and put the decking and railings in.”
Images courtesy of Metro Vancouver
This season the NSMBA has been actively trying to expand follow its motto: Trails for all, trails forever. From reworking parts of the Bobsled to make it accessible to adaptive mountain bikes to its larger plans for a Seymour Mountain adaptive mountain bike loop – soon people who cannot participate in traditional two-wheel mountain biking will be able to shred the mountain on three- or four-wheeled bikes. In the same vein, the NSMBA kicked off a youth riding series in 2018. Its next event is Sunday, Sept. 23, on Mt. Fromme.
“The more youth mountain bikers we have, the more kids mountain biking, the more kids running, the more kids walking, the more kids we have understanding and advocating for healthy use of our forests,” said Ryan Pugh, administrator for NSMBA. “As more kids get into outdoor recreation – no matter what they are doing – hiking, biking, camping it’s another way for them to get introduced to stewardship and taking care of our natural areas – especially our local areas.”
The Youth Toonie Series builds on the successful Fiver series which saw adult riders gathering twice a month for some leisurely racing and community connection – often with a charity component like the $6000 raised last week for the Autism BC and the Canucks Autism Network. While the Fivers will kick off again next April, youth are invited to trails this week.
“We were seeing more youth turning up to the Fivers,” said Pugh. “We wanted to create something that would be just for them.”
While not a race, the Toonie rides are about getting kids aged 2-13+ out on the trails and celebrating the riding community. Run bikes can take on Roadside Attraction, while pedalers challenge that trail too, the Griffens or Boblsed.
“If they want a challenge they can tackle all three,” said Pugh. “Parents can do whatever they need to do to help them down the trails. Some ride, some run, and some kids do it on their own.”
The first event earlier this year had over 100 kids take to the trails. The NSMBA knew families wanted this. The organization heard from parents whose children had done other events in places like Squamish.
“If parents love riding, kids love riding,” said Pugh.
Grab a toonie, your helmet and bike and meet up at Mount Fromme Sept. 23 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Ride registration is from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Bring gloves, armour and a backpack if you have it – but it’s not necessary. There will be treats and games for participants. Full details on Facebook or here, and participants are asked to register so the NSMBA can plan for all participants. While the Endless Biking is helping out with the event, the NSMBA would love some volunteers.
If you love mountain biking and what to get even more involved the NSMBA is hosting the Western Mountain Bike Advocacy Symposium Oct. 12-14 focusing on Building a Diverse Mountain Bike Community. It will also build on the NSMBA’s motto and guiding principle of Trails for all, trails forever.
“It’s a timely conversation on the need for us all to work collectively towards ensuring mountain biking is seen as an open and inclusive recreational pursuit,” said Christine Reid, executive director. “We want to introduce new perspectives, outline why this is an important issue and help create a cohesive vision for building a diverse mountain bike community.”
Presentations and discussions will include: Privilege and the Mountain Bike Community, Building First Nations Relationships, Adaptive Mountain Biking, Supporting Youth Voices, and Reducing Barriers to Participation. More information can be found here.
Photos courtesy of NSMBA.
From zeppelin logging to secret whiskey caches, the tales and trails of North Shore mountains come alive in a new book from locals David and Harry Crerar and Bill Maurer. Highlights from The Glorious Mountains of Vancouver’s North Shore will be shared at the upcoming Culture Days Festival in Lynn Valley.
Culture Days is an opportunity for people of all ages and abilities to try something new, experience something totally different, discover creative spaces in the community and meet the artists that work there. North Vancouver Parks and Recreation have centred the events at seven different “Hubs” throughout the District and City of North Vancouver.
“North Shore Culture Days celebrates the vital role that arts and culture plays in creating vibrant and connected communities. We invite residents to participate, be inspired and have some fun.” said Heather Turner, Director, North Vancouver Recreation & Culture Commission.
We have two picks for Lynn Valley:
For David Crerar the love of the mountains came early. It was puttering around the neighbourhood heading off on random trails – sometimes ending up in Deep Cove at about eight-years-old after following the Baden Powell trail after school, well that was only once, he says.
“My parents appreciated the outdoors and were content to let me play around in the forest and explore,” said Crerar, still a North Shore resident and now a lawyer. “We lament we couldn’t quite give our kids the same experience – more because of cars than bears, so my way was to embrace outdoor adventures. Walking, hiking, exploring – I think they did Little Goat Mountain behind Grouse by the time they were three.”
His passion for local hills lead to the creation of a contest to encourage local trail runners to hit as many peaks as they can in a single season.
“I found there wasn’t a list,” said Crerar. So he began making one, which lead to more research and now, eight years of research later, a book is complete.
With friend Bill Maurer, and high-school-aged son Harry, Crerar has written The Glorious Mountains of Vancouver’s North Shore – a Peakbaggers Guide that goes well beyond the typical trail guide.
“In the marvelous 105 Hikes by Stephen Hui, it covers, I think, only 10 of the hikes,” he said. “And although it is classified as a hiking book, I almost prefer to think of it as everything you need to or wanted know about these mountains in our backyard. Even folks who aren’t hikers will find history and culture.
“There has never been a book written like this which focuses on the North Shore peaks and which tries to provide not only a comprehensive list of hiking routes but the history of the mountains not only hiking use but the long industrial history beyond the obvious forestry – did you know there is an existing zinc claim in the [Lynn] Headwaters Regional Park on the Hanes Valley trail?”
The authors also recognize the history in the mountains extends well past the European contact.
“I think we have written the most comprehensive collection of local indigenous people use of and names for not only mountains, but also creeks and islands and everything,” said Crerar. “We’ve researched the archaeological finds and there is a fair bit of information on Squamish and Tsleil–Waututh nations.”
There a nuggets and secrets like this peppered throughout a short conversation with Crerar. The depth of his local knowledge perhaps only trumped by his enthusiasm to get outside. Take Lynn Peak for instance, right in our own backyard.
“Did you know the park sign leading to the peak – isn’t technically the peak? It’s a viewpoint,” he said. “Most people don’t know the reason it is clear and makes a nice view point is that in the 1960s there was a zeppelin logging operation there and that was the mountaintop docking station. They would basically float this big balloon up and put a bunch of logs on it and float it down again. If you bike along the Lower Seymour Conservation trail lower down and to the east, you will find Balloon Creek and the Balloon Picnic Area – they are there for a reason. It tells a relatively unknown and wacky bit of North Shore history.”
Much of the research the authors undertook was at Lynn Valley’s North Vancouver Museum and Archives and the Community History Centre, which also houses the BC Mountaineering Club archive. David Crerar will be returning Sept. 29th from 2-3 p.m. to share more secrets from his book and local highlights. Pre-registration is required: call 604 990 3700 x8016.
“I’ll be talking about waterfalls you don’t know about, First Nations history, wildlife – there are still mountain goats in our local mountains,” said Crerar. “If you hike back there you will see old mining claims, old mining stakes, old metal stoves – there is so much mining history back there and Vancouverites really have no idea. There are a bunch of plane crashes in mountains. There has been a fairly recent phenomena of whiskey caches – there are so many unique things to learn about.”
David Crerar’s book The Glorious Mountains of Vancouver’s North Shore is available now and he will be speaking Sept. 29 from 2-3 p.m. at the Community History Centre 3203 Institute Road, Lynn Valley. Pre-register: 604 990 3700 x8016.
Photos courtesy of David Crerar and Rocky Mountain Books.
For all the Cutlure Days events check out the NVRC website at https://www.nvrc.ca/arts-culture/culture-days (for Lynn Valley events, click on the Lynn Valley Hub accordion on the webpage) or the national website at https://culturedays.ca/en.