As a team of three summer students working for the Fraser Valley Conservancy we had many interesting experiences. While a large part of our job was removing Himalayan blackberry, a necessity for any conservation work in the Lower Mainland, we also took part in a variety of different projects and picked up new skills along the way!
Our crew began in May conducting snail surveys at the Three Creeks site in Abbotsford. We learned to identify some local species, specifically the red-listed Oregon forest snail and the blue-listed Pacific sideband snail. We were lucky to find several of each in our plots, as well as a very friendly ensatina salamander.
Pacific sideband snail
We then travelled to the man-made Peppindale Wetlands in Aldergrove where our crew was taught how to complete topographic surveys. We surveyed wetland plants and also searched the area for bullfrogs, looking for the large egg masses and listening for the unmistakable plopping sounds made by young frogs.
Removing invasive American bullfrog egg masses.
Conducting topographic survey.
After our time at these sites we began work with the Fraser Valley Watershed Coalition, a partner organization with the FVC. At their sites in Yarrow, we helped to survey fish at a stream in the Yarrow Eco Village. The crawfish were definitely the trickiest to retrieve though I am happy to say that we all survived without injury!
Our crew of three surveying fish in Yarrow.
While our other experiences were definitely memorable, we all agreed that our favourite part of the summer was working by Ryder Lake in Chilliwack during the mass migration of juvenile western toads. We were amazed to see thousands of these dime-sized toads travel across roads from their breeding ponds to their forest habitats. During the migration, we assisted with toad surveys and learned how to hold and measure these little amphibians. Our crew also helped to install directional fences to corral the toads towards the FVC’s new amphibian crossing structure dubbed the “toad tunnel”.
Western toads caught on the wrong side of the fence using an “escape hatch” to crawl to safety.
Sub-adult Western toad who has made it safely through the tunnel to the forest.
The field experiences and learning opportunities this summer were priceless. The knowledge, industry contacts and hands-on experience will help our careers and has left us with some great memories.