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Largest private wetland restoration project in BC opens in Meadow Creek

Work was done to recently completed to five wetland ponds on property in Meadow Creek

by Eva Brownstein, The Nelson Daily

Meadow Creek resident and environmentalist Terry Halleran recently completed five wetland ponds on his property in North Kootenay Lake Country.

This project carries a certain precedent considering the size of the project and that it is all happening on private land.

"No one owns land," said Halleran. "We have a title that allows us to do certain things on that property, yet when we pass on that land should be in better environmental standing than before."

Halleran's words echo the ethos of "Private Land Stewardship", the idea that private landowners have a responsibility to care for and enhance their land for the benefit of the environment and generations to come.

Halleran and his wife Michele have taken this to heart, and are restoring four acres of their meadow creek property into wetland habitat.

In January 2015 a wetland specialist visited the couple's property, 80 acres of wetland terrain between Meadow Creek and John Creek, and helped them to excavate five large ponds with logs placed in them for nesting birds and turtles.

The ponds also serve as fish spawning grounds, and habitat for salamanders, frogs, and other wetland species.

"Wetlands feed nutrients to the lake," said Halleran. "We're going to improve things for so many species."

Halleran bought the property in 1978 from his grandfather, and his family has been living on the land since the turn of the century.

Halleran and his wife Michelle produced a television series entitled "Westland", which aired on the Knowledge Network from 1984 to 2007 (the show was created in 1983 by Terry's father Mike Halleran).

The series explored a broad range of environmental issues, including ecosystem restoration in British Columbia. Now retired, the Halleran's are living their dream, restoring the wetland in their own backyard.

What is unique to Halleran's wetland project is that not only wetland species will feel the benefit -the project will also create food and protection for grizzly sows and their cubs.

"Every spring this field attracts seven or eight grizzlies. The bears were being harassed from the road because they were easy to see. People would stop and honk their horns."

Halleran hoped to plant trees to provide cover for the bears, who come to feast on the spring foliage, but the land was too wet for the trees to take.

With the dirt brought up by the wetland excavation Halleran has built embankments on which he has planted trees, and plants such as lupines and cow parsnips that grizzlies are especially partial to.

The Hallerans received 50 percent of their funding from the National Wetland Restoration Fund, a national fund that has been allotted $50 million for wetland conservation and restoration by Canada's National Conservation Plan.

They received additional funding from Wildlife Habitat Canada, Environment Canada, Columbia Basin Trust, Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program, and BC Wildlife Federation.

"We'd like our place to be a template and an example," said Halleran. "We want to inspire other landowners to say, "I'm going to look after my land and leave it better than I found it."

Interested landowners can contact wetlands@bcwf.bc.ca to receive information on how to restore their land and receive federal funding.

Another opportunity to learn more is to attend an open house at the Halleran's property on Saturday (March 7)  in Meadow Creek from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., at 13215 Highway 31.