Photo courtesy BC Hydro

By Laura Keil

A project geared to re-vegetate Kinbasket Lake and Arrow Lake Reservoir is underway again this year, with the aim to attract wildlife and insects.

Jen Walker-Larsen, spokesperson with B.C. Hydro, says the idea is to re-plant in the drawdown zone, the area where water drains and fills each year.

The program is being delivered under the Columbia River Water Use Plan, a suite of monitoring programs and projects developed by a committee of Columbia Basin stakeholders. They hope to benefit non-power interests including fisheries, wildlife, vegetation, recreation, and archaeology.

BC Hydro began the re-vegetation project in 2008, what is mandated as a five-year plan. The program is supposed to benefit fish and wildlife as well as improve aesthetics, dust control and recreation.

In Kinbasket Reservoir, the planting work has largely focused in the Canoe Reach area near Valemount and Bush Arm area at the Golden end.

Walker-Larsen says BC Hydro is experimenting with a number of different planting and fertilization techniques in reservoir drawdown zones.

Last year in Kinbasket Reservoir they planted over 193,821 sedge seedlings over 19 hectares. Over 3.7 hectares of live of stakes and shrub seedlings were also planted. In addition to these, they also planted over 14 hectares of seeds, and fertilized 10 hectares. More planting work was carried out this year. All shrubs and sedge plants used in the planting program have been grown from locally-collected seeds or stakes, Walker-Larsen says.

BC Hydro is also conducting a monitoring program to assess whether the planting program provides the expected benefits to wildlife. Field crews this summer are currently working to collect a second year of baseline data to determine wildlife use of the drawdown zone. This study will periodically monitor insects, small mammals, and ungulates to determine whether patterns of wildlife change as the planted sites grow and establish.