It All Started on September 27, 2013
The riparian forest project was conducted on Green Day; a designated day when businesses in Swift Current volunteer for an array of events to better the environment. Volunteers helped from a variety of businesses, including City of Swift Current, Stark & Marsh, Matrix Solutions, Innovation Credit Union, and Cypress Health Region as some examples.
The process to complete the forest included; pre-staking a determined site along the Swift Current Creek that was overrun with field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis). The area covered about 25 m² and included native vegetation as well. These species included Snowberry or Buckbrush (Symphoricarpos albus), Wild Rose (Rosa sp.) and Wild licorice (Glycyrrhiza lepidota). The banks of the riparian zone were steep with bare soil under the vegetation.
To begin the project it was decided to clear out the majority of all the vegetation with the use of brush saws and weed trimmers.
Any vegetation found with field bindweed was also removed. Patches of vegetation were left in random areas to help prevent erosion and to maintain bank stability. To further aid in erosion prevention bioengineering techniques were used. This included constructing barriers made of the cut woody debris made into bundles and weaved into woody stakes inserted into the ground. This method of “basket-weaving” the bundles along the slope will help in holding back sediments washing down from heavy rainfall and winter melt waters.
The area was then covered by the rest of the vegetation cut and more seeds were distributed. All materials were re-used in the project and there was no waste of natural materials.
To finish the area, coconut mulch was rolled over and staked down with biodegradable plastic stakes. Holes were cut in the mulch sheet to allow for the remaining vegetation to come through. The mulch will serve a few purposes; to attempt to eliminate the majority of the field bindweed, to create new soil, to protect the new seeds and allow them to germinate, and to help prevent erosion.
The final stage was conducted in the spring of 2014 with the planting of native tree species.
On May 30, 2014 the SCCWS team along with members of the City of Swift Current staff went to the site to plant the trees obtained from the PFRA Shelterbelt. Some of the trees planted were: chokecherry (Prunus virginiana), red osier dogwood (below)(Cornus sericea), willows (below)(Salix sp), snowberry and cinquefoil (Potentilla sp). Over time, these shrubs will grow into a diverse forest of riparian vegetation, which will work to clean and conserve water as it enters the creek, protect the creek banks and provide habitat for birds and wildlife.
After the trees and shrubs were planted, the entire area was mulched with wood chips.
Once all the mulch was in place the entire area was given a good soaking to promote root establishment.
These photos show the finished site. Evergreen boughs and tree stumps were put in place to create areas that had increased moisture and shade as well as create habitat for bugs and frogs.
The site was revisited the spring and summer of 2015 to look at tree sapling establishment. In the fall of 2017 the site was extended to include another reach further to the west of the original site. Volunteers with GO GREEN FRIDAY helped to plant native trees and grasses after the banks were cleared of brush, debris, and the invasive plants such as Field Bindweed, Canada Thistle (Cirsium arvense) and Dame's Rocket (Hesperis matronalis).
Coconut fiber matting was placed on the new site to help prevent erosion, similar to that done on the original site. By extending the riparian forest and including more native plant species the diversity and habitat will be beneficial to the aquatic and terrestrial residents of the Swift Current Creek, as well as create a beautiful viewing area for passers-by on the Chinook Walkway, nature enthusiasts, and bird watchers.
In addition to the riparian forest sites another site downstream was identified as having a problem with the invasive plant, Common Burdock (Arctium minus). This plant typically has a two-year cycle where it grows a basal rosette in its first year, and then send up shoots armed with purple prickly flowers and burs in its second year. The leaves resemble those of rhubarb and the burs are full of seeds, and will stick to anything to brush up against them. Once the burs are stuck, they can be carried anywhere and dropped to establish new plants.
Volunteers with GO GREEN FRIDAY worked to clean the site of the Common Burdock (and themselves afterwards!) to try and lessen the number of plants to return in the spring. In addition to digging up the Common Burdock (Arctium minus) other invasive plants were also removed including Canada Thistle (Cirsium arvense), and garbage was cleaned from the site. This would be the start of a new project site to come up in 2018!
Field Bindweed is an invasive plant that chokes out all other plants around it!
(Below) Go Green Friday volunteers cleaning up and bagging Common Burdock (Arctium minus) at the new project site for 2018!
The new project site for 2018, which was infested with Common Burdock (Arctium minus) and Canada Thistle (Cirsium arvense), was revisited to continue clearing out these invasive plants. In addition to removing these invasive plants, native tree saplings were brought in and planted to help establish the native vegetation along the creek bank. Native tree species included Red-Osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea), willows (Salix sp) and maples. SCCWS once again would like to thank the GO GREEN FRIDAY volunteers and Stark and Marsh for organizing the city-wide event!
The pictures below show the invasive plant, Dame's Rocket (Hesperis matronalis) and its pretty purple flowers. Don't be fooled! These pretty flowers are choking out the native vegetation along the creek and degrade the habitat!
Common Burdock (Arctium minus) grows over the course of two years. The first year it grows large basal rosette leaves such as the ones pictured below.