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ESTABLISHING WATERSHED STEWARDSHIP - THE SALMON HABITAT AND RESTORATION PROGRAM (SHaRP)

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Despite being one of the fastest growing municipalities of the Greater Vancouver Area, the City of Surrey continues to support an extensive network of productive salmon-bearing watercourses. Surrey residents consider the presence of salmonids (i.e., salmon and trout species) as a valued amenity of the City. The City has committed significant resources towards fish and fish habitat protection and enhancement over the past decade and has used fish presence to promote environmental awareness, sustainability and stewardship.

The City of Surrey's “SHaRP” program is unique among British Columbia municipalities due to its size, its integrated watershed approach, and its commitment to career-oriented and leadershipfocused training for local youth. The program is viewed as a model by the Provincial Government's Environmental Youth Corp program, and a position on the annual SHaRP team is highly sought after by post-secondary and high school students. SHaRP provides considerable environmental and social benefits to the City of Surrey through the protection and enhancement of the habitat supported within these urban watersheds.

Over the past four years, the City of Surrey Engineering Department has implemented an increasingly comprehensive and extensive summer environmental enhancement program employing high school and post-secondary students. The focus of the initial programs (i.e., 1996 and 1997) was on erosion control and the in-stream restoration of degraded salmonid habitat and hence, the name “SHaRP” - the Salmon Habitat and Restoration Program - was coined. As the SHaRP program has evolved, a broader, more integrated watershed approach has been embraced which addresses riparian area and water quantity and quality issues, in addition to the in-stream habitat restoration component. The Surrey Parks, Recreation and Culture Department has also joined in the development and delivery of the more recent programs. Project development and leadership from both the Engineering and Parks Departments truly represents an integrated approach that parallels the interrelationships of the aquatic and land-based components of a watershed.

Over the past four years, the City of Surrey Engineering Department has implemented an increasingly comprehensive and extensive summer environmental enhancement program employing high school and post-secondary students. The focus of the initial programs (i.e., 1996 and 1997) was on erosion control and the in-stream restoration of degraded salmonid habitat and hence, the name “SHaRP” - the Salmon Habitat and Restoration Program - was coined. As the SHaRP program has evolved, a broader, more integrated watershed approach has been embraced which addresses riparian area and water quantity and quality issues, in addition to the in-stream habitat restoration component. The Surrey Parks, Recreation and Culture Department has also joined in the development and delivery of the more recent programs. Project development and leadership from both the Engineering and Parks Departments truly represents an integrated approach that parallels the interrelationships of the aquatic and land-based components of a watershed.

Since the program's inception, the SHaRP program has provided employment to over 120 postsecondary and high school students. Students have worked on a variety of projects in each of the four summers. Works have encompassed a range of activities from stream bank protection through the placement of lateral brush layering, riprap protection, and willow staking to public education programs such as industrial education, interpretive programs and streamside residential property education. In 1999 alone, the students removed 7 tons of debris from the local creek systems, planted 2000 plants and willow whips in riparian zones, enhanced the stability of over 500 m of creek banks including the placement of over 250 tons of rock, conducted water quality sampling on various ponds and lowland systems, assisted in a benthic invertebrate study, participated in trail deactivation within City forest areas, conducted plant salvages and contacted over 525 businesses pertaining to discharges to storm systems.

Program objectives and stewardship principles have been further disseminated to the public through successful Media Relations programs. This has encompassed the development of interpretive programs to be run in parks throughout the summer, involvement of local media in streamside initiatives, and participation with other community groups in environmental education. Student acceptance of stewardship principles inherent in SHaRP has been so successful that many local schools are beginning environmental clubs and adopting streams to protect.

This paper provides an overview of the City of Surrey SHaRP program, summarizes the achievements attained over the past four years, and describes the direct and indirect benefits of the City's commitment to environmental stewardship through SHaRP.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2000-01-01

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