Forty-two acres of wetlands on the west side of Mission will be protected from development and preserved for wildlife use and public enjoyment.
The Genstar Wetlands are made up of property donated by the Genstar Development group and lands purchased by Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) from Genstar. The province’s Ministry of Transportation also provided funding for the project.
The newly acquired property is a group of rare tidal wetlands situated where the Fraser River meets the Stave and provides habitat for salmon. It is also home to a variety of wildlife, including American wigeon, gadwall, great blue heron and mink.
“These wetlands are important because they are not only rare, but due to their location, are at high risk of development,” said Brad Amer, manager of provincial operations for DUC in B.C.
Thousands of birds can also be found on the property and the adjacent property, which DUC is also working on securing.
According to Dan Buffet, a DUC biologist, there are no plans for habitat enhancement or public access until the adjacent piece of property, about one-third its size, is protected.
“We recognize there is great potential for both improvement to the wetland habitat as well as integrated public use,” said Buffet in an e-mail to The Record, adding that would be the next step.
DUC is a non-profit organization and a leader in wetland conservation. Genstar has owned property in Mission for decades and specializes in residential and commercial real estate.
Jim and Terry Taylor received the DUC Community Conservation Award earlier this month at the DUC fundraising dinner at the Mission Best Western Hotel.
The long-time local residents were the driving force behind protecting the Silverdale Creek wetlands and improving the area for the public and wildlife.
When we saw sand being pumped on the other side of the Lougheed Highway to build the industrial park in 1999, we knew we had to do something to protect this, said Jim Taylor.
The couple organized a meeting, bringing together representatives from the District of Mission, DUC, Pacific Salmon Foundation, Genstar, Vancity Credit Union, BC Hydro and Fisheries and Oceans Canada to eventually protect the wetlands on the north side of the highway.
The property was purchased in 2005 and is managed by DUC. The Taylors continued to help oversee the improvement and development of the property, which was done without burdening the Mission taxpayers.
Volunteers and service groups such as the Scouts, Mission School District, Rotary Club, University of the Fraser Valley, BCIT, and Ministry of Environment have all been involved in the restoration work.
Today, there is a one kilometre trail loop for the public to enjoy and Terry continues to fight the invasive species in the area, such as blackberry vines and Japanese knotweed.
As this develops more, we can back out of it and let others take over, said Jim, noting regular users of the wetlands have taken ownership of the property and eventually, the district will maintain it as a park.