For the past few weeks Mainstreams Environmental Society has been working on a riparian planting project in the green space on the banks of Mark Creek, across from where B&B Glass used to be.
Laura Duncan of Mainstreams explained that the goal of the project is to plant a wide variety of native plants to help beautify the creek as well as improve habitat for many different critters.
“We’re planting along the grass and amongst the rocks to soften the rocks, provide and improve habitat for all kinds of critters, and to improve the aesthetics in the area,” said Duncan. “It’s such a wonderful space for all to enjoy. It’s close to downtown, and I think it can be a real center for gathering and socializing; a good place to come with friends or family and enjoy a walk or a coffee.”
She adds that neighboring properties have helped with the project by allowing Mainstreams to use their water for watering while planting is ongoing.
“The City [of Kimberley] has also been a huge help, which is great. They are really keen on anyone beautifying the area. They provided all of the soil for the new plants, as well as putting in holes for the new trees with their vactor truck,” Duncan said.
There are a wide variety of plants, trees and shrubs including sedges, hawthornes, kinnikinnick, dogwood, hazelnut, spruce, roses and many more.
“Many of these plants, like sedges, do really well in wet habitats,” Duncan explained. “The hope is that all of the plants have a good chance to survive. The City already has a great watering system for the grass, but they will be installing an even more robust system for the plants, which is key for their survival.
“After a few years of babying, if you will, the plants and trees will be strong enough to survive on their own. There’s a lot of moisture now which is great, the plants need it; even though they go dormant through the colder months, they still consume moisture.”
Funding for the project is made possible through the Columbia Basin Trust’s Community Initiatives Program, which is distributed by the Regional District of East Kootenay. Mainstreams has also partnered with Tipi Mountain Native Plants (or Tipi Nursery), a native plant nursery that is partly owned by Ktunaxa members. All of the plants have come through the nursery, and Richard Williams, who works for TP Nursery, is helping with the installation.
Duncan says that Mainstreams focuses on environmental education, specifically with watersheds, and this planting project is part of that by way of drawing attention to Kimberley’s watershed.
“This project is part of our whole interest in the entire watershed. Our water is very important for all. With the improvements and reclamation that Teck has done, we want to build on that down here because it all stems from the watershed,” she said. “We really focus on environmental education programs that are developed around watershed health.”
Mainstreams is currently working on an assessment of both the Mark Creek and Matthew Creek watersheds, and hopes to continue to educate the community about where their water comes from.
“Part of our watershed initiative is developing a new educational program to introduce students to our watershed. Most people don’t get to see it, especially where the water flows above the dam. We want to link people to their watershed especially with climate change being a factor, it makes education even more important,” said Duncan. “Water is always changing and we need to know as much as we can to be able to plan for a sustainable community and future.”
She adds that Mainstreams is hoping to develop a program for high school students in which they can spend a night camping out in the watershed to learn the ins and outs. It’s not yet finalized, but if all goes well it should be up and running next year, Duncan says.
Mainstreams currently has nine different programs that they offer to schools and community groups. One of those programs is the stream trailer: a utility trailer made to mimic streams. They use a substrait, reservoir and pump to create a stream and put in props to show how water can change and affect erosion etc.
“All ages get enthralled with this trailer, it really is a neat process. By changing an element you can see how banks erode, how the water changes with rain, vegetation or logs,” Duncan said. “The trailer is at the Kaleidoscope festival every year, but we mainly go to schools or an educational setting.”
If you want to find out more information about Mainstreams, volunteer, or be a part of their educational programming, visit their website at www.mainstreams.ca, or contact Laura Duncan at 250-427-2600.