Colony Farm Habitat Enhancement Project, Port Coquitlam: A natural joy
Posted: Nov 13th, 2011
Colony Farm, a place of relaxation for many people in the Tri-City area of Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody, is a green, ecologically healthy area about 20 minutes from Vancouver. It's now in the process of an ecological upgrade.
A recent short stroll from my home to this beautiful area brought quite a surprise. Big areas of green fields that have not been accessible to the general public, and lazy creeks and brush that have so far been secluded nesting areas for birds, are now the site of the Colony Farm Habitat Enhancement Project -- and heavy-duty machinery has exercise its destructive power.
I found some official information about the project:
Planning and studies for this project began in 2008 with preliminary discussions between PMH1 Project staff, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Kwikwetlem First Nation and Metro Vancouver. Design consultation started in 2009, with input from Colony Farm Park Association and others to develop and refine preliminary designs for the project.
The project is a smaller piece of what's been dubbed the "PMH1" (Port Mann/Highway 1) Project. It sits in close proximity to the new bridge in the area that links Surrey and Langley via the Fraser river. The main goal of the project is to restore better water flow in the area of the Colony Farm, and to enhance and again encourage migration of coho and chinook salmon, which were part of the ecosystem 100 years ago when Colony Farm was at peak of its food production.
To increase water movement, some three tidal-flow restoration subprojects are being run to correct the existing infrastructure of the gates and sluice system. Tidal gates will maintain appropriate water levels, sluice gates will control water levels between the north and south sections of Wilson Farm, and a pump-station project will collect incoming waters from the end of Wilson Farm and return the excess to the Coquitlam River.
At first glance, the area isn't compelling. What used to be an attractive wild area with a thick carpet of grass is now levelled to the ground. Six to eight pieces of heavy-duty landscaping equipment were working almost around the clock in August and September. But miraculously, local ducks that were nesting in grass and bushes along the banks of creeks don't seem to be discouraged by the presence of the equipment that ruined their homes a few months ago. They were still having their fun in water that suddenly appeared where it hadn't been before.
The area around Colony Farm is still accessible for walking and biking, although so far, as much as 40 per cent of the entire area seems affected by the landscaping projects. I think it's a good thing the work started at the end of the vegetation season; it looks like nature will have a chance to recover in the fall and winter months and bloom back again in springtime.
I noted that a small pond at the edge of the farm is unaffected, a cute place where red-winged black birds have built many nests. During evenings in the spring, the pond becomes a concert hall of its own, with local frogs croaking to the most varied tunes possible:
Finally, the southeastern corner of the farm is the place where the funkiest shapes, sizes and colours of horsetail can be found. In the fall, they take on their own unique look.