Ducks Unlimited is seeking support from the Peace River Regional District to restore and enhance wetlands in Upper Cache.
Three small dams are proposed on an existing ditch system adjacent to Highway 29 and Szoo Road, which will help to mitigate the loss of wetlands impacted by construction of the Site C dam.
Because the property is in the Agricultural Land Reserve, work must be supported by the PRRD before moving forward to the Agricultural Land Commission for approval.
The land, owned by Wes and Kathy McKnight who are partnering with Ducks Unlimited for the project, has been used for grazing and pasture the last 15 years.
The land will continue to be farmed that way, Ducks Unlimited says.
“The low-lying areas are already covered by water or are wet for the early half of the growing season, making them difficult to cut. The wetlands will capture and retain seasonal water which would otherwise pass through the farm and eventually drain into the Peace River,” Ducks Unlimited wrote in its submission to the PRRD.
“Surplus water will be available for farm and farm purposes (preferably via hardened access points) or via off-site watering. By providing more secure sources of water for the farm and farm animals, the wetlands will actually make the farm more sustainable.”
Ducks Unlimited says wetlands are designed to support breeding birds rather than migrant birds. The dams will be built with material excavated from borrow sources within the pond's perimeter or adjacent land, the organization said.
PRRD did not approve the non-farm use at their March 11 board meeting, instead voting to invite Ducks Unlimited to appear before the board for further discussion of their proposed wetland work.
Director Karen Goodings said commenting on BC Hydro matters is becoming pointless.
"I'm beginning to get frustrated on commenting on anything to do with BC Hydro, because it doesn't seem to matter.They do what they get to choose to do," said Goodings. "That was one of my reasons for not commenting. The other is that I was waiting for thoughts and comments from residents."
She added that feedback has been received from residents in the area, noting that responsibility for the future wetland needs to be determined.
One resident sent a letter to both the PRRD and Ducks Unlimited, with concerns that the wetland project may cause flooding on his nearby property.
"We're being asked to bring this to the agricultural land commission, without knowing what the end result will be," said Chair Brad Sperling.
Ducks Unlimited responded with their own letter to the resident, stating that they are open to consulting with landowners.
Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative. Email Tom at firstname.lastname@example.org