As 2021 comes to a close, we wanted to take a look back at all of the hard work that has been completed over the past 6 years and take a look forward to the work that still has to be completed. Rehabilitation of a natural area is not something that happens overnight. It takes years of carefully planned steps to improve the overall health of the area.
Shaganappi Creek is fed by groundwater and emerges from the hillside at the upper end of the valley in the southwest corner of Shaganappi Park. The creek flows for only about 300m through the park before entering the storm sewer system, eventually meeting the Bow River at a stormwater outfall on the south side of the river near Crowchild Trail.
Streambank erosion was resulting from repeated crossings of the stream by people and dogs at undesignated stream crossings which were created along the length of the creek. These crossings were acting as sources of sediment into the stream and were preventing recovery of riparian plant communities. Non-native woody plant species such as cotoneaster and lilac were abundant along the creek and their tendency to block the light was creating bare ground conditions prone to erosion and lacking native woody plants due to dense shading of the understory below the canopy of these fast-growing shrubs.
From 2015 – 2018 – Calgary Parks worked with Trout Unlimited and the Shaganappi community association to do plantings, bioengineering and weed control in Shaganappi Creek Park, in response to community member concerns surrounding the health of Shaganappi Creek, specifically relating to stream bank erosion and non-native plant species.
2016-2017 volunteer workdays were held to improve riparian health through the removal of invasive cotoneaster shrubs along the creek, planting rooted native plant stock and installing live stakes and wattle fences of willow, dogwood, and poplar to stabilize eroding banks and deter foot traffic in these areas.
Since 2016, Calgary Parks has been doing control of the invasive cotoneaster shrub.
In 2016, Cows and Fish did a Riparian Health assessment of the area, with an overall riparian health rating of 77% healthy with problems, with this about to be updated.
In 2018 four educational/interpretive signs were also installed along the creek to help engage and educate the community on the importance of healthy riparian areas and what can be done to protect/restore them.
In 2019 – Calgary Parks removed some hazardous trees from the natural area and continued to work with the Shaganappi community to keep the park litter free and safe for park users.
In the spring of 2020 and 2021 more native shrubs were planted by a contractor in the forest understory.
2021 – Cows and Fish did another Riparian Health assessment of the area with results available soon.
In the fall of 2021:
125 rooted stakes of yellow willow planted in suitable microsite open areas that will also restrict traffic to the creek edge. This was done to stabilize the bank, add habitat, and prevent dogs from trampling all over the creek beds.
An additional 50 red osier dogwood live stakes and 50 pussy willow live stakes (both shade tolerant species) were also installed.
Temporary black snow fencing was put up around the live stakes to protect them while they establish.
5 designated creek access points have also been established to direct park users including dog owners to designated creek entry points rather than accessing the creek all along the creek bank.
2022 and beyond brings continued work with the community. Restoring and protecting the creek banks, controlling weeds and restoring the forest understory.
Continued monitoring of the overall area including designated creek access point and education around the importance of protecting the creek banks and water quality. Please ensure that you are doing your part by learning about the restoration taking place and following the signage onsite while enjoying the park.
Leave the park the way you found it. Don't collect plant or animal material or cause damage to a park. To protect the creek it is best not to walk in it and to avoid placing fallen branches into the water that could alter the flow. For information about Calgary’s Parks & Pathways Bylaw visit Bylaws related to parks and pathways (calgary.ca)
For information about Calgary’s responsible pet ownership Bylaw go to DEV | The Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw (calgary.ca). Pick up after your dog for the health of humans and the environment. For a map showing the on- and off-leash areas of Shaganappi Park, go to: Off-leash area locations in parks (calgary.ca)
For further information on habitat restoration please go to: https://www.calgary.ca/csps/parks/planning-and-operations/naturalization-initiative.html
Article submitted by Calgary Parks