Stream Tender Magazine

June 2018 Issue

This Spring’s Volunteer Planter Contribution

    It was great to see the CW Perry Middle School group on the creek planting again this spring. Last year, the kids planted along the stream bank of Nose Creek and this year they are doing the same length of stream, on the opposite shoreline.

    What I really enjoyed was the enthusiasm of these young people’s interest in an environmental cause, such as riparian planting and recovery. They know that positive action is required on local environmental goals, along with a new attitude towards taking care of this planet.

    The nice thing about undertaking on a riparian planting program which is so close to their school, is that  they can witness the transformation of creating a healthy riparian zone, over the years to come. As the willows and trees grow, the people that planted them will also see this new growth.

    The planting system used for the planting on Nose Creek, in the City of Airdrie, was simple. A hole is punched into the soil along the creek. A native willow or tree cutting is placed in the hole, along with some new soil. The hole is tamped around the plant and watered.

    The team of volunteer student planters planted 200 native plants in just over an hour of planting. There were also some breaks in the work to examine a few of the stream’s natural inhabitants, mainly aquatic insects.

    Bow Valley Habitat Development would like to thank Mike Dow for organizing this year and last year’s planting event on Nose Creek. A big thank you goes to the other school teachers that helped out on both years as well.

Friends of Nose Creek in Calgary

    When Jon Berlie first contacted me about doing a planting with the Friends of Nose Creek, it was exciting news. I was very pleased to find out that a local Calgary organization had similar interests in the Nose Creek watershed. The group was also keen on doing some planting along some stream banks.

    Friends of NC had already been active doing stream clean-ups and this is great for the health of our local waters. Meeting people that are willing to spend some of their valuable time, picking up other peoples waste is a rare thing. And we all benefit from the groups hard work.

    We organized a two day planting event this past May and we managed to plant a thousand native willows and trees along West Nose Creek. The group was a lot of fun to work with.

    I think that the organization has done a fine job of utilizing social networking to stir up some interest and provide volunteers with an opportunity to get involved. Some parents recognize the importance of teaching their children that getting involved in local environmental causes is a good way into the future.

    For our two day team, they will be free to drop by the planting site when ever they choose, to watch as the new crop of native plants grow in future years. It usually takes approximately 5 or 6 years before the new plants will stand out on the landscape.

    Hopefully, the Friends of Nose Creek will continue with a planting program in the next few years. The more planting teams on the creek, the more rapid the transformation of the new riparian zone.

ATCO Marks Sixth Year of Riparian Planting

    ATCO first joined Bow Valley Habitat in its riparian planting program in 2013. This year’s planting marks the sixth year of their help in transforming our local stream riparian habitats. The ATCO group has planted on Bighill Creek and West Nose Creek over the six year period.

    As BVHD’s organizer of the planting events, I really look forward to working with the ATCO team every year. They always provide a great group of planters.

     For the last four years of the program, ATCO volunteers have been planting on West Nose Creek in the City of Calgary. This past June the 5th, we planted 300 native willow and tree plants along the creek. It was a beautiful day, with not too many mosquitoes or intense hot weather.

    The ATCO contribution in both plants and volunteers has made a significant difference to the BOW VALLEY RIPARIAN RECOVERY AND ENHANCEMENT PROGRAM.

Above: The ATCO group of nine volunteers takes a water and rest break in the shade, after planting the first half of the native willows and trees.


Above: The planting area that ATCO worked on is in bad need of some healthy riparian willows and trees. This photo shows one of the many oxbows or meanders in the stream channel, in this reach of the West Nose Creek.

Above: Holes were punched into the stream bank and marked with red flagging for the plants. This system of prepping a planting site has worked very efficiently when planting with volunteer groups. The plants are placed in the hole with a special soil mix. They are then tamped and watered with plenty of water, for a good start. It is a fast planting system.

Whirling Disease Update—2018

    When whirling disease was first detected in Alberta in 2016, I was suddenly faced with the reality of a possible total collapse of our area trout fishery. Like everyone else that was interested in trout fishing, this was terrible news. At that point in time I decided it was about time to start educating myself a little more about this new epidemic on our trout waters.

    Because there was plenty of statements made that there was no cure for whirling disease, it was pretty depressing to ponder the thoughts of what our future trout fishery might end up like in a few years time. However, it was a good idea to investigate the matter before I got too deep into the doom and gloom of the possible impacts.

    The thought of doing some website searches to find more info resulted in an important discovery. While exploring the possibility of a disease resistant strain of rainbow trout, I came across a few articles about the Hofer strain of rainbow. It was a g

German rainbow trout, originally from the Kootney system, which was immune to whirling disease parasites.

    This was fantastic news! Over time it became apparent that this series of articles would lead to more encouraging information, about how this disease resistance of certain rainbow trout strains would be the new hope for the future of our trout fishery. Maybe there is no cure for infected trout, but building an immunity to the disease would be the long term objective for fisheries managers.

    Recently, read that biologists and other scientists have identified the gene that determines why the Hofer strain of rainbow trout has a resistance to the  parasite. Apparently, the gene is part of the  interferon or immunity system in the trout’s skin. This was very good news as well. If scientists now know what the gene Nome is, they can pursue the possible genetic alteration options in creating a disease resistant strain on our local trout populations. This stuff is too complicated for me to understand fully, but it does bring hope for future possibilities.

    There does seem to be light at the end of the tunnel for those of us that are deeply concerned about the future of our local trout fishery. This is something we could all use right about now!

When are Trout The Most Vulnerable to Whirling Disease?

    Juvenile rainbow and cutthroat trout are the most vulnerable to whirling disease during the first 5 months of their early life stage. The young fish have under developed spinal columns and until the cartilage has ossified or hardened, the parasite can damage it. The damaged cartilage leads to deformity and loss of the ability to swim normally.

    Trout that have a resistance to whirling disease have antibodies in their skins that can fight off the parasite. However, once the parasite passes the skin, the trout is infected and spinal damage will occur. Scientists have recently identified the gene that makes trout disease resistant in their skins. Hopefully this new discovery will lead to better options in creating a disease resistant strain for wild trout fisheries. The science of disease resistant strains is much more advanced south of the border. Hopefully, some of the findings will make their way into a long term strategy for Canadian fisheries scientists and managers, north of the border.

The Pale Morning Dun Dry Fly — AKA—PMD

    One of my favourite dry fly patterns for fishing the Upper Bow River is the PMD Mayfly dry imitation. I have had some tremendous days fly fishing near Canmore and Exshaw using this dry fly pattern. It may be a small dry fly, but the resident brown trout on the upper Bow really love to sip in this tiny morsel.

    I use dry fly patterns in size 16 and 18 to imitate the hatches on the upper Bow River. The light color of these small mayflies is easy to spot from quite a distance. The slick water of slow runs and tailouts is the best place to find this mayfly hatching. Browns will feed late into the season on the PMD hatches.

Next Year’s Riparian Program

    There may be a fall planting this year yet, but regardless, in the fall I will be working on organizing another planting year in 2019. This year marks the fifth year of the Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program, so adding another season in 2019 would be great for the streams in our area. The more riparian planting completed, the better.

    As usual, BVHD will set a goal of 10,000 plants for 2019, but if we are a little under or over that’s ok. Last year we planted 9,070 and this year it was 9,700, this is good enough to make a successful year’s program. The impact that we have made over the five years of planting is really significant and I would like to maintain that.

    The streams in the program are starting to show the benefits from our riparian planting, with cleaner water and stream beds. The stream bank stabilization from our plants is helping to hold the soil along the water’s edge in place. Sliding, eroding stream banks are now stabilizing.