SHaRP at 10: Successes and challenges

Posted January 2006

Courtesy of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s “StreamTalk”, Fall 2005

For ten great years, Surrey young people have had the chance to get knee-deep in stewardship efforts for their waterways. The City of Surrey started the Salmon Habitat Restoration Program (SHaRP) in 1996, employing students to work in enhancement and community education during the summer.

ShaRP has a proud history of accomplishments, starting in 1997 with enhancement work in Bear Creek and its tributaries. In 1998, more streams and creeks were undertaken. Water quality monitoring, Campbell River drainage inventory, and lowland stream reclassification were added to the program.

Public education work began in 1999, with emphasis on industrial businesses. A project to survey benthic invertebrates, such as caddisflies and leeches, was also introduced. The 2000 program focused on watershed rehabilitation and community stewardship development. Sensitive Habitat Inventory Mapping (SHIM) was begun.

The large 2001 program consisted of seven teams made up of 15 leaders and 28 students. They worked on enhancement and park trail construction and closure. Water quality sampling, benthic invertebrate processing, and SHIM mapping of the Little Campbell River watershed was carried out. Community and industrial education brought SHaRP's message to residents and businesses. A new team was added to reach out to Surrey's rural landowners.

Funding for the 2002 program was reduced. One team carried out several large-scale plantings and in-stream enhancements. Another undertook agricultural fence construction and planting, while other participants designed an industrial education campaign and database covering McLellan and Bear Creek industrial areas.

This project was continued in 2003, along with community awareness work at public events and daycares. A media/public relations team organized high-profile SHaRP kick-off and wrap-up events, and got attention in local papers, television and radio. Teams conducted a water use survey of farmers in Cloverdale, and improved habitat in the Little Campbell River and Twin, Jenkins and Latimer creeks.

SHaRP 2004 continued to spearhead salmon conservation measures. A team worked to educate farmers about environmental issues specific to the Agricultural Land Reserve. Others marked storm drains and facilitated interactive games in day camps, to engage the public in environmental stewardship.

This year, contractor Dillon Consulting Ltd. hired post-secondary students as leaders for each of four teams: Watershed Enhancement, Agricultural Stewardship, Community and Industrial Education, and Media and Public Relations. The leaders supervised younger students for a summer of employment and hard, worthwhile work.

There have been many challenges to overcome in the past ten years. Coordinators do not always know how much work to plan, as many funding partners sign on late. The partners vary from year to year. Even finding office space is an annual challenge. Coordinators hunt down vacant facilities and used furniture. Computers are rented.

But despite the need to reinvent each year, the program continues to build on its success. Students don’t just get summer jobs. They learn about teamwork, and leave with the satisfaction of knowing more about their own community, its waterways, and the importance of protecting them. They write press releases, educate farmers and businessmen, and gain invaluable experience in many more areas that will stand them in good stead in the future. And the waterways of Surrey benefit from their enthusiasm and muscle.

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