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.
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.
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!
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”.
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.
There has been lots of interest in our RLAPP project this year – now that the tunnel has become a reality!
Check out some of the great news coverage:
Thank you to everybody who came out to support the official opening of the newly constructed “Toad Tunnel” in the community of Ryder Lake this past weekend! The day started with an official ribbon cutting ceremony with some of our project partners and City of Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz.
The ribbon cutting ceremony was followed by lunch, updates on the 2015 toadlet migration, and kid friendly activities at Ryder Lake Hall. Thank you to Save-On-Foods for donating hot dogs and the Chilliwack Corn Maze for donating to our door prize! This project would not have been possible without continuing support from the local community. Thank you! We enjoyed sharing the success of the first migration through the amphibian crossing structure and are looking forward to continuing to monitor these amphibian populations.
Thank you to Christina Toth for the great photos!
The Sub-adult Western toad migration in Ryder Lake is wrapping up for 2015. These tiny toads started migrating on June 22 this year which is the earliest migration since the Fraser Valley Conservancy (FVC) started monitoring this population in 2008. Local landowners also indicated that this is the earliest that the toads have started migrating (to their recollection). The Western toads took advantage of the warm weather to develop quickly from eggs to tadpoles to sub-adult toads (affectionately called “toadlets”).
The Fraser Valley Conservancy (FVC) completed 9 road surveys monitoring the toadlet migration this year. In 2014, 59 permanent survey plots were laid out every 50 meters along Ryder Lake, Elk View and Huston roads (in the vicinity of the breeding pond). We monitored the same plots this year and will be able to compare the results between the years. An initial review of the data shows that there were many fewer toads found per survey where the fencing and crossing structure was installed this year compared to the same locations last year. Further analysis of the data is required to accurately report on the migration and the resultant impact of the crossing structure.
We also used time-lapse photography to see how many toadlets were using the crossing structures. Photographs were taken every minute in several survey sessions and show hundreds of toadlets making their way through the culverts. We quickly analyzed 2 hours of data from June 25, 2015 and found over 3500 toadlets using one of the crossing structures (that’s an average of about 29 toads/minute)!
The toadlets were also using the new crossing structure! Can you spot the tiny toads amidst the rocks and leaves?
Environment Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program funding has supported the FVC staff in their development and implementation of this project and have committed to continue to support our work in the years to come. We look forward to continuing to monitor the amphibians in the Ryder Lake community and will report further on the migration once we have had a chance to go over more of the data!
On June 24th 2015, a great group of Lafarge Canada employees volunteered to help us install fencing to guide migrating amphibians through the new crossing structure. Ten volunteers and and five FVC staff members installed over 350 meters of directional fencing. Local landowners graciously allowed the FVC to install fencing on their properties which allowed for optimal layout of the fencing. Funding to support the fencing installation was provided by Vancity and the TD Friends of the Environment Fund.
We took inspiration from other projects throughout BC to design our toad guidance system. Due to local site conditions we anticipate having to install and remove the amphibian fencing for each migration. This means our system has to be simple to install and durable. We chose to use silt fencing material (black plastic fabric material used primarily around construction sites for erosion control), wooden stakes, and a staple gun.
To attach the fencing to the ground, so the tiny toads can’t crawl under it, we used two methods. In the forest and along the road we buried a piece of the fabric material with soil and rock. On the hay field, we used old garden hoses and landscape staples to secure the fabric to the ground. Both methods worked to prevent the sub-adult Western toads (“toadlets”) from moving under the fence. We also left a piece of fabric overhanging at the top of the fence to discourage amphibians from crawling over the fence.
Our toad guidance system directed the migrating toadlets to two safe passages across Elk View road. One of which is the new crossing structure installed in early June. The other safe passage was through two existing drainage culverts. These culverts are dry when the toadlets migrate in the summer and provide another way for the toadlets to move safely across the roads towards their foraging grounds in the forests.
We are going to be installing fencing to direct the migrating Western toads towards the new crossing structure next week on June 24. For more information please follow this link! We will be running two volunteer shifts, one in the morning starting at 9am and one in the afternoon starting at 1pm. Please send us an e-mail if you are interested in helping out with this project.
Join us at our new office space to hear and see what we’ve been up to this past year!
Light snacks will be served during a meet and greet starting at 6:30, meeting commences at 7:00pm
If you have any questions feel free to phone the office (604-625-0066) or e-mail email@example.com
We had a very successful day on Elk View road today. The culvert installation was completed and the road re-opened. We started the day installing rip rap to stabilize the banks around the new culvert. We also added more gravel to the culvert and over the stabilizing rip rap to allow easier passage of amphibians. We also installed lock blocks at each end to give support to the road fill. We worked around some very large boulders in the ground and created inviting openings for the amphibians. The ends of the culvert will tie nicely into the directional fencing that will be installed later this month to guide the toadlets through the culvert. The crew worked hard to clean up the road and a paving crew came in and did a great job. We are very grateful for the fabulous Lafarge crew and all the other organizations that contributed to this project. We are excited to see this stage of this project completed and look forward to working with this structure to help the local amphibians populations cross the road!