Members of the Selkirk College restoration program got their hands dirty this week as they took to planting native species of plants along the banks of Cottonwood Creek. The restoration initiative aims to build natural ecosystems in the area.

Bringing back an ecosystem

An area of town once neglected will be receiving extra attention through a restoration project aimed at recreating a natural ecosystem.

An area of town that was once neglected will be receiving a little extra attention through a restoration project aimed at recreating a natural ecosystem.

“I’ve been involved in this project to restore Cottonwood Creek for 10 years,” says Eileen Delehanty Pearkes, a member of the committee dedicated to the effort.

The goal of the initiative is to restore the natural ecosystem for vegetation and wild creatures by putting in several plants that would have naturally grown in areas where there’s currently little more than grass.

“Once the plants establish they’ll bring in other native plants and birds will stop in and use the area, and then the whole ecosystem starts to work,” said Derek Marcoux, program chair for the School of Environments and Geomatics at Selkirk College.

Delehanty Pearkes said plants such as dogwood and cedar have already been planted by Selkirk students in areas intended for non-human use.

“There are other parts near the waterfront for people to use. We’re putting more of the focus on non-human use for this restoration,” she said.

“I feel like we need to take care of nature that’s close at hand… If we can take care of what we have right in our city that is a habitat for wild creatures, then we should do that.”

Marcoux said students taking restoration courses at the college have been taking part in projects like this in the city for the past 10 years.

“We walk the students through how to do an ecological restoration project from start to finish and this is a great part where we can get on in ground, put plants in and do all the labour that’s part of an ecological restoration,” said Marcoux, adding that in this particular project he’s planning that the vegetation will grow in along the stream banks and fill in the area over a number of years creating the ecosystem that should exist there.

“It’s a great field project for the students because they’re working on an actual restoration project so they could take these skills and take them to the next job site and apply them with another employer,” said Marcoux.

All in all, Selkirk College, the city, council members and a number of community groups including the rod and gun club and the committee to restore Cottonwood Creek all have had a part in the project.

“It’s a real win, win for everybody involved in restoring the Cottonwood Creek ecosystem,” said Marcoux.

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