MacKay Creek has been the focus of much of Echo Ecological's work over the past several years. We initially started the restoration process for this site at the mouth of the creek, where it connects to Burrard Inlet. Following that, we have been slowly making our way up the creek and restoring the riparian area as we go. In 2016/17, we received funding from the Habitat Stewardship Program to focus on restoration activities along the banks of the creek south of 1rst Street W, North Vancouver.
West bank completed fall 2016
The west bank of MacKay Creek was severely impacted by an immense amount of english ivy strangling mature trees and covering many native shrubs. This was the primary invasive that was tackled in this section of the restoration project and removal efforts were quite successful.
Throughout the span of our project, we removed a total of 6.5 tonnes of invasive vegetation. This took 3 truck loads, as well as two 30-yard bins. The District of North Vancouver aided us in some of the removal efforts by providing the in-kind use of their truck and trailer.
During restoration efforts, numerous species of fungus were found on site. Fungi species aid in improving soil health and are becoming more commonly used at restoration sites.
During the fall of 2016, we conducted weekly in-stream spawner surveys for returning salmonids. We completed several surveys between September and December. This was our first year for completing in-stream surveys and we were excited to see mature chum and coho species returning to MacKay for spawning.
East Bank invasive removal completed spring 2017
The east bank of MacKay Creek provided a greater challenge when it came to removing invasives from this area. Access was more difficult and the spread of invasive plants was far more extensive. In this part of the site, there was numerous types of non-native plants, including English ivy (Hedera helix), Himalayan blackberry (Rubus armeniacus), English holly (Ilex aquifolium) and Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica).
To undertake such a large-scale restoration project, it is necessary to have a dedicated team of hard working individuals. Echo Ecological is an equal opportunity employer that hires current students and recent graduates that have educational experience related to biology, ecology or ecological restoration.
Planting March 2017
During our spring 2017 planting event, 90 trees were installed, 690 shrubs and 807 ground cover species for a total of 1587 plants.
To help us with the installation of this large number of native species, we were joined by 100 volunteers who were excited to lend a hand to help improve their local creek. The volunteers included members from the local community, the North Shore Wetland Partners, some members of the Northshore Streamkeepers, as well as many students and teachers from Bodwell High School. We really appreciated of all of their hard work!
During this season, Echo Ecological worked with Bodwell High School, Cleaveland Elementary and BCIT to cut, paint and construct nest boxes and bee houses. This was made possible by the large donation of plywood from Seaspan Shipyards. These boxes were then installed along the length of MacKay Creek and will hopefully be inhabited by mason bees, swallows and chickadees!
An important part of riparian restoration in urban areas is to manage for wildlife populations. In MacKay Creek there is the established beaver presence. In recent years they have become much more active. To prevent the beavers from using our newly planted native trees and shrubs as foraging materials, we installed beaver exclosures on all plants that might be impacted.
At any planting event there is always a sizeable collection of pots left when all the plants are in the ground. Thankfully, these pots can be delivered to the local recycling facility to be made into something new!
Following the planting event, a 2 inch thick mulch layer was installed on-site to aid in the repression of emergent weeds and to retain moisture for the new native plants.
Many hundreds of hours have been given to MacKay Creek in the last 5 years in hopes of helping to restore its functionality. Since restoration activities began in 2013, we have seen a definite increase in fish species utilizing the creek and the general public has become much more aware and interested in this area. We hope to further our work to protect MacKay Creek in the years to come and educate future generations on the importance of urban streams and their inhabitants.