Ecosystem Enhancement through Wetland Creation

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Lehigh Hanson Materials Limited

Lehigh Hanson Materials Limited’s (Lehigh) Sechelt Operations is the largest sand and gravel mine in North America. In 1998 SYLVIS initiated a reclamation program that focused on the beneficial use of residuals and habitat diversification.

As part of the mine closure activities SYLVIS identified the opportunity to further diversify habitat and mitigate surface water runoff through the construction of a wetland ecosystem on a former sedimentation pond in an already low lying area.

A depression in the low lying area was excavated and contoured, and a water level control was installed to regulate water flows. A fabricated soil, especially created for the wetland using locally-generated residuals, was placed along the contours providing a growing medium for riparian vegetation.  Island and upland and riparian ecosystems were installed in order to provide habitat diversification. Coarse woody debris and rocks were added to further diversify the site, provide slope stability and create micro-habitats for both flora and fauna. The wetland was planted and seeded with native aquatic and upland species.

In creating the wetland, SYLVIS worked closely with the shíshálh Nation to plant culturally recognized plant species.  The shíshálh Nation named the wetland “skvenalin”, which means “new beginning” in the local dialect.

The wetland is now thriving and is home to many birds, insects and plant species and is a integral component to a wildlife corridor on the mine site.  The success of the wetland project demonstrates SYLVIS’s commitment to sustainability through habitat diversification and reclamation.