Volunteer Ian McKenzie plans to plant western maples among other trees alongside Martin brook

Bilston group buffers reclaimed creek

A creek in Langford once packed with the leftover rubble of a highway project will get the finishing touches of a restored ecosystem on Sunday.

A creek in Langford once packed with the leftover rubble of a highway project will get the finishing touches of a restored ecosystem on Sunday.

Bilston Watershed Habitat Protection Association volunteers plan to plant trees and shrubs alongside Martin brook, capping off a multi-year project to rehabilitate the fish-bearing stream.

“We are happy to have people come out and help out, and to see the project, to see an area that at one time looked pretty sad,” said Ian McKenzie, a volunteer with the Bilston protection association. “This is helping to recreate the whole ecosystem.”

Martin brook, accessible from Woodruff Road, runs along Highway 14 (Sooke Road) near the four-lane stretch in the western edge of Langford. The stream flows into nearby Bilston Creek.

The Bilston association dug out the channel about a decade ago, after the Ministry of Transportation used the area as a rock quarry and storage area during the project to widen the highway to four lanes.

“The (ministry) built a trench so water could run away, and then left,” McKenzie said. “It wasn’t very good and there really wasn’t any place for fish.”

Bilston members repaired the dam of a holding pond and built a series of channels and pools, complete with spawning gravel and logs to provide cover.

The Ministry of Transportation again used the area to deposit rock after upgrading Sooke Road at the bend near Slegg Lumber this year. McKenzie noted that this time a government biologist worked with the Bilston association to protect the stream. The ministry even funded the purchase of trees for this weekend’s planting effort.

Earlier this year the Bilston group dumped off truckloads of soil in preparation for the last phase of the Martin brook enhancement project.

“Highways is doing things correctly this time,” he said. “They are a lot more aware of doing things without damaging (ecosystems) now.”

The group has never stocked the Bilston system with fish, but Martin brook is home to cutthroat trout.

Members of Langford Lakes and Area Protection Society and Habitat Acquisition Trust are lending a hand to plant firs, pines, willows, alder and dogwoods, as well as dozens of shrubs and native plants.

Anyone who wants to volunteer to help can show up at Woodruff Road on Sept. 25, 10 a.m. See www.bilstoncreek.org for more information.



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