WHAT WE DO
The Bulkley-Morice riparian restoration project completed its first phase in 2021 of a multi-year riparian restoration project in the Upper Bulkley and Upper Morice basins. In effort to ameliorate riparian vegetation and reduce streambank erosion on the Upper Bulkley River (UBR), willow cuttings were planted and streambanks stabilized on private land parcels along the banks of the river. Four sites were planted in the Spring and six sites stabilized and planted in the Fall.
The style of restoration was ‘Low-Tech Process Based’, meaning non-engineered structures using natural materials that work with river processes such as erosion, deposition, scour and movement, letting the river do the work. Cuttings for planting were sourced locally by cutting stakes from naturally occurring willow in the surrounding area. Planting spots were prepared using a Waterjet Stinger.
Effectiveness monitoring surveys and physical restoration activities of restored sites took place in 2022. Further resources go towards complementing existing programs in the MWMA led by the Office of the Wet’suwet’en (OW), Environmental Stewardship Initiative (ESI), and Morice Watershed Management Trust (MWMT).
WHO WE ARE
The Morice Water Monitoring Trust (MWMT) was established in 2012 to enable longer-term monitoring of the Morice Watershed Management Area (MWMA) and establish a path forward for addressing objectives and guidelines. The MWMT is directed through its Trust Agreement to be responsible for monitoring the implementation and effectiveness of BC / Wet’suwet’en government-to-government agreements, and related natural resource management activities, plans, and policies in the MWMA (the ‘Morice Plans’). One of the primary purposes of MWMT is to gather baseline data within the MWMA to determine if water quality is sufficient to maintain the well-being of the Wet’suwet’en (in relation to fish and drinking water).
Northwest Research and Monitoring (NWRM) is a community-based research and monitoring agency that emphasizes a science-based approach, in balance with First Nations and local priorities. NWRM works at the intersection between industrial proponents, research, First Nations and communities to ensure communication, collaboration and increased certainty for natural resource development that fits with community objectives.
Through partnership with the MWMT, ongoing continuous engagement with Wet’suwet’en people and organizations has and continues to be integral throughout the planning and implementation of the project. This project is meant as a starting point for long term activities related to watershed restoration both within Wet’suwet’en traditional territory, and through leadership among First Nations, more broadly in the upper Skeena watershed. Care is being taken to ensure that cultural knowledge and expertise is fully incorporated in project planning, restoration implementation and outreach.
Our connection to the Upper Bulkley community is strengthened through our collaboration with environmental stewardship organization, A Rocha, in Houston, BC. A Rocha’s work in Northern BC supports a community of environmental stewards who live in this beautiful area. A Rocha encourages, connects & champions grassroots creation care.
The Healthy Watersheds Initiative (HWI) supported the first year of work. This was a 2021 Watersheds BC and Real Estate Foundation of BC program investing in watershed conservation and restoration projects, while strengthening relationships with First Nations and Indigenous-led organizations.
The Upper Bulkley watershed contains a myriad of lakes and creeks. Major lakes include both Maxan Lake, fed by Maxan Creek, and Bulkley Lake, fed by Maxan and Foxy Creeks. From Bulkley Lake, the Upper Bulkley meanders westward to join with the Morice River west of Houston. The single largest tributary in the watershed is Buck Creek, which flows northward to join the Upper Bulkley in the District Municipality of Houston, the largest settlement in the watershed. The valley is one of the oldest settlement areas in the region.
Other tributaries of the Upper Bulkley River include the Byman, Barren, Mcquarrie and Richfield creeks. The Upper Bulkley River is one of the watersheds in the larger Skeena River watershed – one of only two rivers in the world that still supports wild steelhead. The Upper Bulkley is home to coho, chinook, steelhead and sockeye salmon, as well as river otters, black bears, grizzly bears, wolves, mule deer, moose, coyotes, red foxes, toads, salamanders, ospreys, eagles, migratory birds and more. Low summer flows in the Upper Bulkley, when demand for water is the greatest, can stress aquatic ecosystems.