It looks messy now, but one day this Aldergrove site will be a restored wetland. And, not only will it look more natural, it could save a species. Learn why this innovative project is a bargain for taxpayers and a crucial habitat for a unique frog.
It looks like a mess. But believe it or not this is anything but. It’s a purpose-built landscape — meticulously designed by Monica Pearson.
“It does look like a bit of a mess right now and every wetland project and construction project looks like an absolute mess in the making,” explains Pearson. “We are creating diversity, a little bit of chaos out there, in order to provide opportunities for plant species and animal species.”
Pearson is a wetlands specialist, hired by the Vancouver aquarium to restore the wetland at Aldergrove regional park. It’s hoped that once the wetland is restored, it could become home to the Oregon spotted frog, which once flourished here. “The oregon spotted frog is one of canada’s most endangered amphibian,” says Pearson. “At most recent count we’ve only found about 300 breeding females which makes it extremely endangered. The frog is only found in the fraser valley of canada and down the pacific northwest coast to a few sites in oregon, washington state and only three breeding locations in canada.”
The Vancouver aquarium has a breeding program for the spotted frog, hoping to improve its numbers. The restoration of this wetland fits right into Metro Vancouver’s longterm management plan for Aldergrove regional park, and, at no cost to taxpayers.
“It’s fabulous,” says Valoree Richmond, a parks planner with Metro Vancouver. “This whole wetland will be created from a partnership where we provide the land and another agency, in this case the Vancouver Aquarium, has provided the funding.”
But here’s the hitch. It will be years before anyone knows whether this new wetland will provide suitable habitat for Oregon spotted frogs. Monica Pearson explains.
“We’re creating this habitat for oregon spotted frogs but it is possible we’re not going to succeed in creating the appropriate habitat for the species. We will be monitoring the finished product for at least five years before we introduce the oregon spotted frog into the site, and we’re going to want to be very confident in the success of the frogs in the site before they’re introduced.”
For Metro Vancouver, regardless of the outcome, it is still a win win situation. Valoree Richmond highlights the educational value of the project.
“Seven or eight years in the future there will be a park entry node off of 272nd, that will lead to a wetland interpretive trail, where school kids, naturalist groups and other community groups can come and have an interpretive program walking through a rich and vibrant wetland habitat.”
According to Pearson, “(The) worst case scenario is that we have a beautiful wetland without any oregon spotted frogs in it. It would provide habitat to many other species – particularly great blue herons, there will be fish species in here. We particularly expect to have red legged frogs moving into the site, western toads, it will be habitat for many many species. It’s going to be absolutely beautiful when the water levels come back up and the vegetation grows up out of that water I think we’ll have a really beautiful wetland to look at.”