Say goodbye to the invasive yellow flag iris in the Somenos Marsh. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

Somenos Marsh projects will root out invaders, improve storm runoff

“Invasive species are the second leading cause of plants and animals being listed as endangered.”

There will be an increase in activity this September at Somenos Marsh Conservation Area (SMCA) with new ecological projects underway thanks to the support of Environment and Climate Change Canada and Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society (SMWS) has been dedicated to ecological stewardship in the Cowichan Valley for more than 25 years and continue efforts with two upcoming ecological projects that will be noticeable to motorists and pedestrians passing by the conservation area next month.

The excavation of yellow flag iris, an invasive plant species near Somenos Open Air Classroom and boardwalk area is one of two projects funded by Environment and Climate Change Canada to ecologically restore several areas of the SMCA. The removal of invasive species, such as yellow flag iris improves biodiversity and ecosystem services helping local native species thrive.

“According to the IUCN, invasive species are the second leading cause of plants and animals being listed as endangered or becoming extinct. So we think it’s something that we need to be working on as a society,” said Elizabeth Bailey, program manager at the SMWS.

Along with the removal of invasive plants, the creation of stormwater treatment wetlands off Beverly Street is another major ecological project SMWS will be undertaking in September in partnership with North Cowichan. Constructed ponds on the site will treat stormwater runoff from neighbouring urban areas surrounding James Street before it enters salmon-bearing Somenos Creek. Stormwater management will improve wetland habitat at the Marsh to create a more diverse and attractive habitat for many different species.

Further highlighting the importance of these ecological restoration projects, multiple new populations of species at risk were discovered in the SMCA during project planning. Tall woolly heads and Vancouver Island beggarticks are two rare species recently found at SMCA thanks to the help of special projects and management of the Marsh’s ecosystem. There’s also work taking place on riparian area restoration along Somenos Creek as part of Somenos Creek Salmon Habitat Restoration Project.

Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society is holding a number of upcoming volunteer community events. To learn more or get involved our volunteer events visit their Facebook page.