Selkirk students spent three days helping to restore the lake shore in Nelson.

Students help restore lake shore

Selkirk College students spend three days working to improve conditions.

Students in the first year of the Integrated Environmental Planning program at Selkirk College spent three days restoring the Nelson lake shore this week, just west of the Prestige Resort.

This is the fourth year that Selkirk has partnered with the city to build structures of woven willow and poplar, in-fill trenches with topsoil, and plant cuttings and sedge grasses to prevent erosion and create habitat.

Fish and amphibians rely on grassy areas along the lake shore for breeding, and waterfowl also use them for foraging. This sort of riparian habitat is ideal for the natural fluctuation of water levels, but Kootenay Lake shorelines also vary according to water release from the surrounding dams.

These variations can make it difficult for the plants and animals that live there, and without vegetation, shoreline soils are easily eroded.

Project designer Thor Smestad also collects cuttings from native trees of the region, which are soaked and then planted as whips or tall rooted seedlings.

Instructor Doris Hausleitner says “This is a great opportunity for the students, especially as restoration is a key component of the environmental planning program.”

The students are completing their first year of a two-year program, in which they learn about ecology, hydrology and physical geography with a particular focus on British Columbia. In the second year, students focus on geomatics and planning; the program feeds directly into a Bachelor of Science degree at both Thompson Rivers and Royal Roads universities.

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