Biologist hopes to draw birds, reptiles, fish to Shuswap Lake with new habitat
'Build it and they will come,' says biologist Gerry Leering
On the foreshore of Shuswap Lake, just half a kilometer from Salmon Arm's downtown, a small excavator pulls up mud and piles it into two-meter-high hillocks.
The excavator is creating sections of raised land in long, finger-like formations to enhance the foreshore and encourage fish, reptiles and birds to use the area as habitat.
The "complexing features" are the idea of the Salmon Arm Bay Enhancement Society, a conservation group responsible for protecting the foreshore.
Biologist Gerry Leering says the western grebe, a species of bird native to the Shuswap, is decreasing in numbers in the region. He believes that population decline is due to habitat loss.
He's hoping to turn that downward trend around.
"By creating these little fingers, we're taking material from beside [the foreshore] and raising it so we have a height, close to the existing nature trails, so that then we can plant it with red cedar, black cottonwood — very tall trees — and plants on the raised hummocks," said Leering in an interview with CBC Radio One's Daybreak South.
"It can be a beautiful nesting habitat for the [western] grebes."
The habitat enhancement work is costing $50,000, said Leering, which may seem like a lot, but it's not just for the birds.
"We're complexing the site for turtles, waterfowl, fish habitat and snakes," he said.
"We're hoping to get some poles for bat boxes [and] different kinds of nesting boxes."
The idea behind the project is, "build it and they will come," said Leering.
With files from CBC's Daybreak South and Leah Shaw