Farmland Advantage has been working with ranchers, producers, and Indigenous partners in the Upper Columbia River in the East Kootenays to identify and protect and enhance sensitive ecosystems under their care. Farmland Advantage identified Galena Creek Ranch as a potential riparian restoration site and has since completed important restoration work.
Galena Creek Ranch is nestled in the Rockies, along the Spillimacheen River in the Columbia River Wetlands. The wetlands are home to the Columbia River and are brimming with life and biodiversity – over 260 bird species have been recorded, as well as numerous fish, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, and countless insect species. The Columbia River Wetlands have been recognized as a Ramsar site; a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention, an intergovernmental environmental treaty established in 1971 by UNESCO.
Paul Galbraith and his family at Galena Creek Ranch have been working with Farmland Advantage to protect riparian areas within these sensitive wetlands from excessive cattle grazing pressure. Riparian areas are defined as the transitional areas between dry land and water bodies such as streams, lakes, or rivers. Healthy riparian areas improve the quality of our lakes, rivers, and streams. The roots of surrounding trees and plants bind the soil to reduce erosion, provide food sources, and offer shade and wind protection that helps regulate water temperature. Riparian areas are critical habitat for insects, amphibians, and other wildlife. They also store water during high streamflow and absorb and dissipate water energy during floods. Fencing livestock out of riparian areas improves bank stability and water quality. It also prevents the loss of livestock from bogging and drowning.
Throughout the Fall of 2021, 900 meters of riparian fencing was installed and repaired on Galena Creek Ranch to protect sensitive wetland from excessive grazing pressure. Much of the existing fence was in disrepair; posts had been pulled up by frost and some sections were covered by large organic debris. To repair the riparian fencing, debris was removed, and new posts were pounded into the earth with a hand-pounder. Stretches of fencing that were missing were re-established with steel posts, which were also used to reinforce the existing wooden posts. Braces were repaired and reinforced, as well as the gate.
In total, 39.2 hectares of land has been protected by this work, which ensures fences and related management are in place to protect and enhance the health of this area of the Columbia River Wetlands. Through this work a larger area of sensitive wetland will also be protected, including a lake.