The accumulation of dense log debris along the Boundary Bay dike is impeding the growth of native vegetation and preventing the marsh from operating as a fully functional wetland. Baseline surveys indicate most debris slated for removal is of human origin (e.g., saw logs, construction materials, creosote pilings), which lack root wads and branches that would typically anchor driftwood in place. Instead, these logs move and roll freely during high tide events, smothering plant life and compacting sediments within the marsh.
Baseline surveys and historical air photos indicate that much of this material has been present for many decades, having arrived during rare extreme high tide or storm events. Without human intervention, this debris material is likely to continue smothering the marsh in perpetuity.
Driftwood is a natural feature in coastal marshes that can increase habitat complexity for fish and wildlife. Large root wads and branches serve as perches for birds and large diameter logs provide a safe haven above the tide line for native shrubs and herbs to establish. Logs that possess these features will be marked prior to construction and will not be removed.
Beginning in February and continuing through March 2023, excavators were used to remove and stockpile log debris, which were transported to a nearby biofuel facility to convert into green energy.
Following the completion of this restoration project, a portion of the area will be planted with tidal marsh vegetation and the site will be monitored over the next year as plant life is re-established. While the area may appear degraded at first, the marsh will respond rapidly with new vegetation that will create a much healthier ecosystem.
The Boundary Bay Tidal Marsh Restoration Project will provide a number of benefits for human well-being and biodiversity. Healthy salt marsh ecosystems mitigate flooding by slowing and decreasing wave energy, protect water quality by filtering run-off and sequestering contaminants and are highly-productive carbon sinks, sequestering large quantities of greenhouse gas.
These marshes also support several at-risk species, including Audouin’s Night-stalking Tiger Beetle, Vancouver Island Beggarticks, Short-eared Owl and Great Blue Heron.
Funded by the Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund, with the objective of reducing Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions using natural climate solutions, this project was undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada through the federal Department of Environment and Climate Change, with additional funding through the North American Wetland Conservation Act.
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