NESTLED inside a forest behind Eastview elementary, a unique bog rehabilitation project is underway.
The multiphase project in Eastview Park includes the construction of a boardwalk, a small bridge, a viewing platform and the removal of invasive plants. Once the entire project is completed, the students will be able to observe plants and animals in their natural environment.
Jeremy Miller of Houston Landscapes, the company contracted to do the majority of the work, and his staff constructed the 60-metre-long wheelchair-accessible wooden boardwalk.
"We are building a viewing platform over the bog so that the kids can go out and look at the critters and creatures that are in the bog," said Miller, who was born and raised in North Vancouver and took on the work as a not-for-profit project. "We want to build something that is going to last years and years."
Construction began in late January, but got off to a slow start thanks to a blast of cold weather.
An early challenge presented itself for Miller's crew when they were installing the posts to support the boardwalk. The workers quickly discovered that the support posts for the boardwalk were sinking deep into the muck. After input from Miller's staff members, they were able to solve the problem by using bigger posts.
Phase 1 of the project began two years ago when the school and the parent advisory council decided to expand the outdoor play area for students at Eastview elementary. "The school is well equipped with playgrounds," said PAC member Kathrin Wallace. "We wanted to find another area for the kids to play in other than what they have."
Eastview's principal Colleen Elderton said the bog will be used as an outdoor learning area and will provide students with an opportunity to observe nature within a natural setting.
The first phase of the project began in late 2010 when the City of North Vancouver handed over the stewardship
of the bog area to the school community. While the school is in the District of North Vancouver, the adjacent park is just across the municipal boundary, in the City of North Vancouver.
City workers cleared forest debris from the boardwalk site and educated the students about identifying invasive plant species. As part of the project, parks staff also supplied the students with fresh soil for the planting area.
Students spent two days removing invasive plants from the forest and another two days replanting with native plants. The students planted a wide variety of native species, including low Oregon grape, Western columbine, salmon berries, salal, Indian plum, vine maple and ferns.
City of North Vancouver parks staff have been on board throughout the entire project, said Wallace. "The City really embraced it."
Elderton added that the students have also shown their enthusiasm for the project. "I would make an announcement that we would need dirt moved and seven or eight of the kids would show up on their lunch hour or after school to help," said Elderton. "Anytime the students were out there they enjoyed it."
Wallace said the project budget was $16,000, but costs were less than originally estimated. The advisory council has contributed $3,000 through fundraising and parent donations. The boardwalk is also supported through a grant from the City of North Vancouver, according to the school website. "Without staff embracing this and really wanting this, it wouldn't work," said Wallace. "I think there is a sense of pride."
The second phase of the project involved the construction of the bridge, viewing area, and boardwalk. In March the entire staff at Houston Landscapes will volunteer their time to remove the rest of the invasive plants within the forest.
"As a company of 30 workers we can come in there and eradicate the invasive species," said Miller. "Having my guys come out there and make short work of it will be good."
Cedar Rim Nursery will donate native species for planting in the wetland area.