Did you know…our latest ID sheet for Owls is out and ready to be put to use!

As part of our continuing series to highlight both common and rare species that live in our valley, our latest ID sheet is here. Winter is a great time to be on the lookout for the beautiful and fascinating owls. They provide a valuable contribution to our ecosystem by being a safe and natural form of rodent control. Download your own copy of the ID sheet here.

As most of these owls are only out and about in the evenings it is helpful to know what they sound like. Below are the corresponding links to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology audio files:

 

We are looking for a contractor to help us with habitat evaluation work for the Oregon Spotted Frog

 

We are on the hunt again…this time we are looking for a new contractor to assist with the Precious Frog Project. Due to staff and contractor changes over the past year, we now have opportunities for someone with the right experience to assist with some components of this project. To be eligible to work for the FVC as a contractor you must be self-employed, possess appropriate insurance, and provide all necessary tools to complete the work.

Currently, we are looking for someone with experience assessing habitat, primarily from a desktop perspective (GIS/orthophoto and other landscape data), to provide an analysis that will help guide population assessment and recovery work of the Oregon Spotted Frog. This document will be created in collaboration with the Oregon Spotted Frog Recovery Team (OSFRT); throughout the process there will be meetings to guide the work. Details are as follows:

Oregon Spotted Frog Habitat Evaluation of Semmihault and Elk Creeks, Chilliwack BC

Objectives:
  • Describe the landscape around new Oregon Spotted Frog (OSF) populations through mapping and summaries;
  • Assess habitat available to support OSF;
  • Identify and classify threats to the OSF population; and
  • Describe and evaluate feasible options to mitigate threats.
Process:
  • Complete desktop analysis using GIS and available online resources;
  • Create maps as appropriate;
  • Conduct literature search/review;
  • Interview local governments, community groups (streamkeepers, restoration groups, naturalists), biologists, etc.; and
  • Conduct field visits, as appropriate, to get lay of the land.
Report Topics:

Part 1: Habitat assessment and maps (at watershed scale – all named watersheds containing OSF Critical Habitat in Chilliwack)

  • Water feature types (percentages)
  • Soil profile
  • Water quality (if available)
  • Hydrodynamics (historic profile and identify/describe what influences current modified regime)
  • Vegetation (assessment and classification of riparian area, general context of instream vegetation)
  • Land use type (current and historic; classify to agricultural type, residential, industrial, etc.)
  • History of habitat disturbance, enhancement and restoration

Part 2: Assess habitat available to support OSF based on land use and biological context (at Critical Habitat scale)

  • Oviposition
  • Summer rearing/foraging habitat
  • Overwintering

Part 3: Identify and classify threats to the OSF population (watershed and Critical Habitat scale)

  • Use established threat matrix to identify, classify and describe threats to OSF

Part 4: Describe and evaluate feasible options to mitigate threats

  • Use habitat limitations and threats identified in parts 2 and 3 to propose feasible mitigation opportunities.
Timeline:
  • Successful contractor notified and participates in planning meeting week of November 27th, 2017
  • First draft due February 23rd, 2018Final draft due March 31st, 2018
Budget:
  • Total maximum budget is $9,760.00 plus applicable taxes

The Technical Advisor for this project is Kendra Morgan, Aquatic Environmental Biologist, Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development (South Coast) Kendra.Morgan@gov.bc.ca

The Contract Administrator is Joanne Neilson, Executive Director, Fraser Valley Conservancy, joanne@fraservalleyconservancy.ca

Interested contractors are invited to submit a concise proposal to Joanne outlining how you would address the above topics and requirements, plus your curriculum vitae, by midnight November 26th, 2017.

 

Join us for Rally in the Valley to learn about how you can help our species at risk…

The FVC is partnering with the SCCP to host a workshop about species at risk on Wednesday, September 13th. The afternoon session will provide updates from expert biologists and government staff and is designed for those working in habitat with species at risk. More information and session registration form is availble here.

The evening session is an opportunity for everyone to learn about how individual citizens can help out. We will have other community groups joining us hosting displays and giving presentations. Everyone is invited to come learn about what is going on in the community and how they can help. Advance registration via this link is helpful, but not required.

 

 

What to do when you find tiny toads in your yard!

To understand why there are tiny toads suddenly appearing on your property it is important to know their life cycle and how your yard plays an important role…

The Western Toad is the only species of toad found in BC. Despite a wide distribution throughout the province. It is experiencing a significant population decline, mainly due to loss of habitat.

When the toads are 3-5 years old they migrate to a wetland during the night in the early spring to breed and lay eggs. The fertilized eggs develop and hatch into tadpoles that swim and feed together in large synchronized schools. After several weeks, when the water warms up, the tadpoles metamorphose into tiny toadlets that emerge from the pond and migrate en-masse towards forest, grassland, and other moist terrestrial habitats where they spend the majority of their lives. Unlike the adults,  tiny toadlets migrate during the daytime, and since they migrate en-masse they can be quite noticeable crawling through fields, backyards and roads.

If you do see toadlets migrate through your property you can help them survive by…
  • Watching your step! The toadlets are tiny (about the size of a dime) and due to their colouration they can be hard to see.
  • If you have a large number in your yard try and avoid areas where they are congregating- in most instances it only takes them 2-3 days to pass through your property.
  • Do not pick them up, as this is a very stressful time for the toads and they will be disoriented when you put them back down on the ground. As well, products on our skin can be harmful to them.
  • Ensure that your pets do not harass the toadlets
  • Avoid mowing your field or lawn where the toadlets are found
  • They will be most active during the cooler times of  the day, during the hot midday they tend to hunker down in shaded areas to wait it out. If you notice that they are crossing a road in your neighborhood, use an alternate route during the morning and evening hours when they are most likely out on the roads.

These mass migrations happen only once a year, so within 10 days they will have moved on, hopefully to a safe forest home.

If you do find toads on your property and/or you have any questions/concerns please do not hesitate to contact us via email or phone 604-625-0066

Thank you for helping the toads in your community – they will return the favor by eating lots of pesky bugs!

 

We’re growing again…looking for an exceptional restoration field technician to join our team!

The Fraser Valley Conservancy (FVC) is excited to announce a brand-new position for a wetland restoration technician! This person will be working as part of the Precious Frog team, on the first year of a three-year project with great opportunities for growth in future years. If you have a background in restoration, ecosystems knowledge and are dedicated to conservation, read on….

We are looking for a flexible, curious, and personable employee who can take on project management roles. You will work with a diversity of personalities in challenging conditions, and will need to be able to think on your feet. Applicants with local knowledge and ties to the Fraser Valley or Lower Mainland preferred. You will be mentored by several knowledgeable biologists; together you will be working towards the recovery of the endangered Oregon Spotted Frog and other wetland species in the Lower Mainland of BC.

Description of Work:

Fall and Winter
  • Learning and implementing all technical aspects of the Precious Frog project. Including database management, documenting methodology, statistical analysis, restoration project planning, as well as site investigation and design.
  • Site enhancement work including invasive control, native plantings and bioengineering.

 

Spring
  • February through March assisting with all aspects of the busy amphibian breeding season: egg mass surveys, capture-mark-recapture, bacterial swabbing, marking and release of juveniles.
  • Reporting to government and funding sources.
Summer
  • Field duties in the early summer include night-time bullfrog surveys and control programming, data entry and management, field equipment care and maintenance, etc.
  • Late summer activities revolve around the habitat restoration projects. Maintaining and monitoring past projects, as well as coordinating current projects.
  • Working with municipalities, providing support for frog-friendly drainage maintenance.
  • Assisting with outreach and mentoring of student staff.

General Work Requirements:

You must be capable of performing physically demanding tasks such as walking long distances in mucky sites, paddling canoes and kayaks, lifting and transporting canoes and kayaks, carrying field equipment, etc. Waders and field equipment will be provided. You must be willing to work a flexible schedule during the field seasons.

Our office is in Mission, and many of the field sites are in the Eastern Fraser Valley. You must have a reliable vehicle and be able to transport field gear with you. You will be reimbursed for mileage from the office to field sites.

You will be hired for to work full-time (40 hours/week) from September 4th to March 31st, 2018. If you are the right fit for our team, a two-year extension will be offered at the end of the first work term. The intent is for you to grow with our organization, and potentially work on other projects as the years progress. The starting rate of pay will be $19 to $23 per hour, based on level of experience.

Required Qualifications, Experience and Skills:

  • Bachelors degree in a related field.
  • Minimum of two years (24 months) relevant work experience.
  • Eligible for professional or in training designation  I.E. BC Registered Professional Biologist, Professional Agrologist, Professional Engineer and Geoscientist, etc.
  • Experience in aquatic field work.
  • Versatile, adaptable and resourceful: able to incorporate adaptive management principles, rapidly assimilating new information and adapting activities while maintaining the integrity of the project.
  • Demonstrated landscape assessment skills for the purposes of habitat restoration and site management planning, including vegetative, topographic, hydrologic, soils assessments.
  • Experienced in project management (work planning, contractor coordination, safety, budgeting).
  • High level of comfort working independently in remote areas.
  • Experience writing and implementing a management plan.
  • Detail oriented with highly developed observation skills.
  • Highly competent in MSWord, Excel, and desktop GIS skills.
  • Knowledge of local plants, Fraser Valley ecosystems, species at risk, invasive species, and wetland species.
  • Outstanding communication skills, both verbal and written, to a wide range of audiences.
  • Experience coordinating field crews, students, and/or volunteers.

Assets:

  • MSAccess, FileMakerPro, Adobe InDesign, QGIS knowledge.
  • Topographic surveying experience.
  • Overseeing a construction project experience.
  • Amphibian experience.
  • Bullfrog control experience.
  • Knowledge of local land use practices.

Application Process:

Submit a cover letter, which clearly outlines how you meet the above requirements, and corresponding resume to admin@fraservalleyconservancy.ca

Applications will be accepted until midnight Sunday, August 20th, interviews will be conducted later that week and may include a practical component. There may be a testing component as part of the interview process, and you may be asked to provide an example of a habitat restoration plan or implementation report that you have produced.

Only applicants short-listed for the interview process will be contacted.

Toadlet Migration 2017 – Not What We Expected!

One of the things about working with nature is that you never can predict what is going to happen. Science is a tool we use to help guide our decisions, but when it comes down to it nature is going to do its own thing.

Our latest experience with this has been the 2017 Toadlet migration. Before we installed the toad tunnel, we spent many years researching the best location where it could help the most toads cross the road safely. For the first two years it worked well, they migrated along the directional fencing we installed with the help of volunteers, to either the tunnel or the culvert under Elk View Road. This year we were super prepared for the pending migration, everything was meticulously installed while the weather warmed up and the toad tadpoles morphed into little tiny toadlets. However, instead of following their usual route out of the wetland, across the hay field, they decided to go in the opposite direction this year! So now there are streams of migrating toadlets, crossing Elk View Road out of the other end of the wetland and too far south from our fencing and tunnel to benefit from its safe passage. Only the occasional toadlets are migrating the other direction and can benefit from the use of the tunnel.

Therefore, it is especially important this year that people follow the voluntary detour. The toadlets are so tiny it is impossible to see them when driving, many people don’t even notice them when walking. There is no way to avoid killing toadlets driving on Elk View Road between Ryder Lake and Huston Roads, however there is a simple detour that only adds 300m to the drive. The only way can help the toadlets this year is by taking the detour.

We will endeavour to continue to post updates on our YouTube channel if you want to follow there migration progress this year.

Hopefully next year they will continue with their usual migration route. In the meantime, the FVC staff will review the results from this year’s data collected and see if we can come up with an alternate safe crossing if the toadlets repeat this pattern again in the future.

The Toadlets are coming!

Yes the sunny weather is finally here and that means that the tadpoles at Ryder Lake are about to morph into tiny toadlets and will soon be making their annual mass migration into the surrounding forest.

We are looking for energetic volunteers to help us install directional fencing for our Ryder Lake Toad Tunnel, prior to this year’s migration, on Wednesday June 28th. We will be starting at 10 am and will wrap up at 3pm, a pizza lunch will be provided. The fencing is constructed from silt fencing material attached with staples and screws to wooden stakes which are hammered into the ground. We then lay down hose and attach it to the ground with metal pins to ensure the little toadlets can’s sneak their way underneath. The most challenging part of this work is the uneven ground and navigating over fencing and working on some steeper slopes to secure the fencing well with no gaps anywhere.Volunteers must be prepared to work in hot conditions (please bring a water bottle) and will need work gloves and good footwear (hiking boots recommended).

If you are interested in volunteering for this project please respond to this e-mail to obtain details. To ensure we have enough supplies and you have accurate directions (there is no cell service at this location) we require volunteers to sign up with us ahead of time.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to e-mail or call (604-625-0066).

Where do Barn owls hunt when farmland disappears?

Even though their habitat is becoming increasing urbanized, Barn owls still persist (albeit in lower numbers) in the Fraser Valley. Sofi started studying the hunting and feeding habits, in the western end of the valley, of these owls seven years ago and her results have just been published in the Journal of Landscape and Urban Planning. Congratulations Sofi!

Her results show that as the grassland habitat dissapears, their next preferred hunting grounds are the roadside grass verges and highway medians. They truly are daring hunting along side Lower Mainland traffic! Read her full article here to learn all about how these adaptive birds hunt and feed despite the changing landscape:

Habitat use by barn owls across a rural to urban gradient and an assessment of stressors_Hindmarch et al. 2017

Looking for 2 hard working, keen to learn, summer students!

We are looking for two exceptional students to join our team for the summer. If you are interested in learning more about what a land trust does, aren’t afraid of doing hard work to restore and enhance native habitats, and you are a good communicator who enjoys spreading the importance of caring for the environment to complete strangers, then read on…

Our summer students will work under the supervision of Fraser Valley Conservancy (FVC) biologists and alongside community volunteers. Work will include:

  • managing FVC conservation properties including lots of invasive species control, as well as completing ongoing surveys (photo-point monitoring, vegetation transects, gastropod and amphibian surveys);
  • assisting with ongoing maintenance and monitoring of the juvenile Western Toad migration through the toad tunnel at Ryder Lake;
  • helping with the delivery of our landowner contact program; and,
  • organizing and hosting outreach events, and promoting conservation values to the community.

These positions are a great opportunity to gain experience in the conservation field. While we do not require extensive previous work experience, we will be seeking candidates that have some experience (work, volunteer or academic) in the follow areas:

  • Physically fit and comfortable working outside in all weather conditions
  • Keen interest in local conservation issues
  • Native flora and fauna identification knowledge
  • Excellent verbal and written communications skills
  • Must have access to a reliable personal vehicle as the work will take place around the Fraser Valley (Chilliwack, Abbotsford and Mission). The students will be responsible for their own transportation to and from the daily meeting locations in each community
  • Must be willing to work a flexible schedule (which can include evenings and weekends) to coincide with toad migrations and public events

Additional qualifications that will be considered an asset:

  • Knowledge of amphibian biology, wetland ecology and species at risk issues (especially local species and ecosystems)
  • Field work experience; including monitoring methods, data collection, data analysis and technical reporting
  • Streamkeeper or other related volunteer experience
  • GPS knowledge and basic mapping skills
  • Experience coordinating volunteers and hosting events

These positions are funded through the Canada Summer Jobs program; therefore candidates must meet the following qualifications:

  • Currently enrolled in post-secondary education (must have been registered full-time in the previous academic year and returning to full time studies in September 2017)
  • Be between 15 and 30 years of age (as of May 23rd, 2017)
  • Be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or person to whom refugee protection has been conferred and be legally entitled to work in Canada

Two student stewards will be hired as term employees from May 23rd to August 25th, 2017. The rate of pay will be $14.00 per hour, 40 hours per week.

To apply please email a cover letter and resume clearly outlining how you meet the above requirements and resume to admin@fraservalleyconservancy.ca

Resumes will be accepted until 8:00 am Friday May 12th. Applicants who meet the criteria for an interview will be contacted for interviews  the week of May 15th.