Organization: Mission Creek Restoration Initiative
Mission Creek is one of the Okanagan Valley’s most important waterways, supplying roughly 25 percent of Okanagan Lake’s inflow waters. With a catchment area of approximately 860 square kilometres, it falls almost 2000 metres from the highest reaches of its drainage basin. It flows almost a full 75 kilometres on its way to build an alluvial fan measuring roughly 12 square kilometres. The Mission Creek Restoration Initiative (MCRI) formed in 2002 as a multi-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder undertaking with the over-arching goal of restoring the lower section of Mission Creek to a more natural condition. From the East Kelowna Road Bridge downstream to Okanagan Lake, Mission Creek has been dramatically altered over the past century. The MCRI works on projects to restore important features of the creek in order to revitalize its historic role and ecological value to the community. Since 2009, the OBWB has provided grants to MCRI for five projects within the initiative (one project is listed in the education section).
The 2009 Community Outreach and Communication project allowed the working group to communicate with local landowners who would be affected by the initiative. It was paramount to the success of the project to have a good, open relationship with the affected land owners. Through this outreach program the landowners became more aware of the project details, as they were mailed an information brochure and invited to meet individually to discuss the project. Also in 2009, the working group conducted a channel width assessment which identified locations for further restoration work by dike setbacks and re-attachment of natural riparian areas, oxbows and wetlands.
In 2012, the MCRI conducted a project to assess the ecological value of sections of Mission Creek that would be targeted for restoration. Ecosystem services selected and valued as part of this assessment include: farmland, habitat, outdoor recreation, water supply, forest carbon storage and sequestration, wetland carbon storage, grassland carbon storage, air filtration by forests, flood protection (water regulation), waste treatment by wetlands and fishing. These services provide an offset to costly infrastructure that is needed when the services are no longer provided by the environment. Through targeted restoration by MCRI, the study found an increase in the value of ecosystem services of nearly $2 million per year.
In 2013, the MCRI is set to begin work on a major dike setback that will reconnect the stream to the natural floodplain. This will enhance fish habitat, improve water quality, and increase flood protection. In 2012, the MCRI, with funds provided by the RDCO and the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund, purchased a key property adjacent to Mission Creek. The MCRI is now proceeding with the first phase of the dike setback project on this property; baseline data collection, detailed design, and permitting. For more information on the MCRI visit: missioncreek.ca