The Fraser River

The Fraser River

[Photo Credit]

The Fraser River – Many of you may be familiar with this river especially those who live in British Columbia. In fact, 2.4 million people or 63% of British Columbians live within its basin. It is the largest river in British Columbia – 1375 km in length! To give this some perspective, if this river was stretched out straight it would cover a distance from Vancouver to Regina, Saskatchewan!

The Fraser River has high ecological significance. It is one of the largest salmon spawning rivers in the world. In fact, this river system produces the most salmon out of any other river system. All six salmon species native to the Pacific drainage can be found here with millions of salmon returning each year. Many other fish species can also be found in this river and its estuary. White sturgeon, the largest freshwater fish in North America, is no exception.

The Fraser River delta is an important staging area on the Pacific Flyway. This flyway has the highest numbers of wintering waterfowl and migrating shorebirds in all of British Columbia!

Of course, the Fraser River and its surrounding areas are also important for insects, amphibians and mammals. And people too! This River and its basin offers opportunities for many recreational activities including canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hiking, skiing and camping.

It’s should come as no surprise that the Fraser River was named a Canadian Heritage River in 1998.

Spring Has Sprung!

old WAG screenshot - 640px

In keeping with the new growth and fresh starts that come with spring, our WildAboutGardening.org website is sporting a new look, new English and French content and more user-friendly features. Of course, as with any garden, there is much more on the way. Stay tuned to see what blossoms on our pages over the spring and summer…happy gardening!

The Tatshenshini River

The Tatshenshini River

[Tatshenshini River Photo Credit]

This month’s river is one that I would love to experience someday – the Tatshenshini River, although I must admit that the chances of having a close encounter with a grizzly bear frightens me – a lot!

The headwaters of the Tatshenini River starts in British Columbia, the river flows through the Yukon, enters into BC again, then meets the Alsek River before going into Alaska and eventually enters the Pacific Ocean.

The Tatshenshini has been referred to as “Wild North America at its best” and “one of the wildest areas in the world”. Mountains, canyons, waterfalls, rapids, glaciers and icebergs add to the outstanding natural beauty of this pristine area. Grizzly bears, Dall sheep, mountain goats, wolves, woodland caribou, moose, bald eagles, golden eagles, peregrine falcons and salmon are just a few of the species that make up the incredible diversity of wildlife here.

I would love to hear your story if you’ve had the opportunity to visit this scenic wonder.

Celebration in Lawrencetown, N.S.

Lawrencetown Celebration
Lawrencetown Celebration – resident Diana Ackroyd (left) and CWF’s Carole Wheately (right)

[PHOTO: CWF]

I went to a party last weekend in Lawrencetown, a small rural village in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia. It has a population of just over 650. It is home to the Nova Scotia Community College’s Centre of Geographic Sciences. And it has also just become the first community in Canada to be designated as wildlife-friendly through the CWF’s Backyard Habitat Program – a great reason for a party!

CWF Board Member, Wilfred Woods presented a framed certificate from CWF to the village and provided subscriptions for the village library to CWF’s Canadian Wildlife and Wild magazines. Carole Wheatley, CWF’s Officer for the Backyard Habitat Program and who did the assessments for the properties, was also on hand to enjoy the celebration and got to help cut the cake!

The community has good reason to be proud. We live with wildlife. Animals and plants surround us. Some wildlife avoid humans of course, but not all do. Improving their habitat is not as difficult as it seems. They need food, water, shelter and some space – the same as us, really. Add to that avoiding pesticides and incorporating regionally native plants and voila – wildlife habitat. It’s our challenge to simply recognize this and to keep this in mind everyday as we go about our lives – especially as we modify the places around where we live. Each one of us can make a difference. So far more than 600 properties in Canada have met the CWF standard to be designated as Backyard Habitat. The residents of Lawrencetown came through in a big way, though – about a third of all the properties in the village met this standard! This is a major boon to wildlife as well as to the residents and visitors of Lawrencetown and Nova Scotia

Congratulations to Diana Ackroyd for leading this charge and to all of the residents of Lawrencetown who took the time and care to ensure that wildlife had a place in their backyard!

To see more photos, click here to visit our facebook photo album.

St. Mary’s River

St. Mary's River

St. Mary’s River Photo Credit

This month I take you to my home province of Nova Scotia where you will find the St. Mary’s River.

Reading about this river makes me dream of a summer day where I can set my canoe in what has been named one of Canada’s top 10 canoeing rivers. I’m told it’s not uncommon to see mink, beaver, muskrats, deer, bear, eagles, osprey, pipers and king fishers among many other wildlife species.

St. Mary’s River is also home to the wood turtle – a species listed as threatened on the federal Species at Risk Act and as vulnerable on the provincial list. In fact, St. Mary’s River is said to be home to the largest population of wood turtles in Atlantic Canada. It also boasts important Atlantic salmon habitat however salmon populations have been declining in recent years.

Treasures like this prove how important it is to keep our waters healthy!

The Ottawa River

The Ottawa River

The Ottawa River Photo Credit

The Ottawa River is the next river I’ve chosen to highlight. The Ottawa River begins deep in the wilds of Quebec and heads west to Lake Temiskaming then turns south and southeast to the St. Lawrence River, flowing 1271 kilometres in length. The Ottawa River is the second largest river in Eastern Canada!

This beautiful river was the earliest route of commerce for the Northern Company and eventually for the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Today it is home to many nationally or provincially at-risk species including the spotted turtle, loggerhead shrike, American ginseng, and the least bittern.  It provides habitat for more than 85 fish species, 300 species of birds, approximately 53 mammal species and 33 species of amphibians and reptiles. You can also find at least 14 different species of freshwater mussels in the Ottawa River.

While the Ottawa River is impacted by more than 50 major dams and is threatened by wastewater, urban runoff, agriculture, wetland loss and shoreline development, the resilient Ottawa River is used for a variety of recreational activities including white water kayaking, canoeing, sailing, and fishing, while it’s riverside trails offer cycling, running, walking, and cross-country skiing.

This is certainly a gem for those that have experienced it.

The Bonaventure River

Bonaventure River

Bonaventure River Photo Credit

Canada is blessed with an abundance of freshwater so I’ve decided to feature a Canadian river or lake the first Friday of every month. It may be a hidden gem or one that is better known.

Bonaventure River is the first river I want to highlight. This is a river in the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec and is approximately 120 km long. It was called ‘Wagamet’ by Mi’kmaq aboriginals which means “clear water.”  Today the river is still known for its crystal clear water, beautiful scenery and Atlantic salmon, referred to by some as a “wilderness paddler’s dream” and “the prettiest canoeing river in Quebec”.

Make sure to check back next month to see if the river or lake I feature next is from your area!

Click here to see what CWF is doing to help conserve Canada’s freshwater systems.

Winter Salt Use

Winter Salt Use

[Photo Credit]

The salt we use around our home in the winter to melt ice and snow can damage our lakes and rivers harming fish, insects, plants and all the other organisms that live in these water bodies.

To reduce your impacts this winter consider:

·         Removing as much snow and ice from your driveway and walkways as possible before applying  de-icer is one of the best actions you can take. Salt and other de-icers work best when there is only a thin layer of ice and snow to melt. Be careful however as shovelling heavy snow and over-exerting yourself can lead to a heart attack.

·         Reducing the amount of salt you apply. If there is salt on your driveway after the snow and ice melts this is a sign that too much salt has been applied.

·         Applying de-icer before snow falls to reduce the amount needed.

·         Urea-based fertilizers are often recommended as an alternative de-icer; however, these contain nitrogen and when washed down driveways and storm sewers can cause harm to fish and other aquatic organisms.

·         Sand or other grit such as fine gravel is a good alternative to chemical de-icers. Use sparingly however, as excess sand can clog storm drains and accumulate in streams.

·         On dry days sweep up any excess salt and de-icer to prevent it from entering water bodies.

·         On extremely cold days (below -20° C) there is no point of applying salt as it will be too cold for it to work.  At this temperature sand or grit is your best option.

·         There are a lot of products claiming to be eco-friendly. The best advice is to read the labels and research the ingredients used in the product.

Click here for more information on winter salt use.

Rain Barrels Ready for Winter

rain barrel

[PHOTO: CWF]

Despite the treat of a few warm days, we’ve also had our share of nights that dip below freezing. Those days, on my drive to work in the morning, I’ve noticed wetlands sporting a thin layer of ice. Time to empty my rain barrels.

Both my barrels are full, so I’m gradually using up water on plants I’ve recently dug in the ground to overwinter – plants like rosemary, my year old parsley (which can go for 2 years) and other plants that resided in pots this summer. If I have the time, I also water some nearby trees, as I like their roots to have a good drink before winter. Next, with a mighty heave I’ll push the barrel over and jump quickly out of the way, hoping to avoid the freezing water that’s pours out. The barrels then spend the winter upside down, to prevent cracks from winter’s freeze/thaw, which would happen if I left the water be. Visit our Wild About Gardening website to learn more about rain barrels or check out our gardening calendar for other autumn job ideas.