Habitats studied at Jordan River

Birds, amphibians and vegetation examined for impact

Northern red-legged frog

The Fish and Wildlife Compensation program (FWCP) provided $8,400 to an environmental research company to fund the monitoring of habitats established at the Diversion Reservoir in the Jordan River watershed.

In the fall of 2009, a two-tiered wetland habitat system was created to help mitigate the impact of the Jordan River dam on the environment and local wildlife. The system consisted of two ponds and habitat the size of an international soccer field.

“The work we’re doing is monitoring something that we’ve previously constructed,” said Virgil Hawkes, senior wildlife biologist and LGL vice-president.

“It’s one of those things you need to do post-construction to make sure what your intended product was is actually performing.”

The grant will pay for the second year of monitoring in 2012-2013. Researchers will perform standard wildlife survey methods like: the monitoring of songbirds, visual encounter surveys, whether or not adult breeding of amphibians is occurring in ponds, nesting of adult birds, and examination of vegetation re-growth.

According to Hawkes, the first year of monitoring performed by LGL Limited in 2010-2011, showed immediate use of the habitats by wildlife.

Currently, there are red-legged frogs, waterfowls, songbirds, two species of garter snakes, bats and other mammals utilizing the habitats.

“Anytime there is the ability to create habitat on the edge of a reservoir, you’re generally going to see some improvements provided the habitat is functioning the way you want it to,” he said.

LGL Limited initiated the construction of the habitat after research on red-legged frogs in the area in 2004, determined a wetland habitat was required to mitigate calculated impacts on the species.

The funds were allocated from the FWCP, which is a partnership between BC Hydro, the province of B.C., and Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

“We provided funds in the Jordan River water system and other watersheds, where we have foot-print impacts,” said Stephen Watson, BC Hydro spokesperson.

“A wetland was created because the Diversion Reservoir, the main storage area for the Jordan River hydroelectric facility, goes up and down,” he said. “So the wetland habitat was created to basically stay in place, no matter what the reservoir level was at.”

The LGL will be applying for FWCP funding in November for a third and final year of habitat supervision.

The initial Jordan River Diversion Reservoir was created in 1909, and was substantially upgraded in the 1970s to the system it is today — the largest generator on Vancouver Island. The 170-megawatt system consists of two main reservoirs.