March 11, 2016 - 7:00 AM
KELOWNA - With snowpacks high in the Okanagan, the brand new flood plain created by the Mission Creek Restoration Initiative could soon get a workout.
“We’re expecting to see water in it soon,” project coordinator Steve Matthews says. “We’re quite excited about seeing it in action.”
He expects the floodplain to flood on average, once every two years during the spring freshet, so it will be a busy place.
“About 50 per cent of the time we expect water to go in there,” Matthews says. “We created some meanders and pools and connected to an old side channel."
Matthews oversaw, during the last six months, crews from various partner agencies as they scalped the existing Mission Creek dike down to near the low water mark and rebuilt it almost 100 metres further inland, creating a floodplain one hectare in size.
On land now exposed to flooding, crews created channels and transplanted various trees and shrubs to create fish and wildlife habitat.
The floodplain was created on land purchased by the City of Kelowna in a project that began in 2002, although actual construction began only last fall.
Mission Creek had been “channelized” — straightened and diked — for flood control beginning in the late 1950s, Matthews says, but the short-term flood solution had long term negative effects on fish and wildlife habitat.
“We lost about 50 per cent of the river’s length and 80 to 90 per cent of fish habitat and the riparian zone,” he says.
With this project complete, Matthews says the hope is more city-owned land along Mission Creek can be dedicated to its restoration.
“It’s the lower 12 kilometres that is the concern and this is only 500 metres so its a small but important first step,” he adds.
The Mision Creek Restoration Initiative is a project with many partners including the federal and provincial governments and the City of Kelowna.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016