Barbara Schubert

Ducks Unlimited seeks volunteers for Rithet’s Bog clean-up

Sept. 13 work party includes removing cattail seedlings to help ecosystem thrive

It’s been a dozen years since repair and restoration at Rithet’s Bog began, a journey that continues this weekend with a volunteer-led joint work party.

The bog’s precious ecosystem was resuscitated in 2002 when Saanich and Ducks Unlimited partnered to remove heavy brush. It brought back the open water area crucial to native waterfowl and pond plants. But by 2010, the pond was once again invisible, hidden behind a wall of cattails three metres high.

“We’re making progress,” said said Russ Pym of the Rithet’s Bog Conservation Society, a trained marine biologist who spent his career doing water quality sampling for the Capital Regional District.

Key to the restoration effort are regular work parties, where volunteers get their hands (and boots) dirty, directed by Pym and others to attack the cattails before they can re-establish.

Saturday’s (Sept. 13) event is the first joint work party of its kind, something Pym hopes becomes a regular occurrence.

“We’re actually doing more this year than normal as we expect a fairly good volunteer turnout (for Saturday), upwards of 30 from the usual 15 to 20,” he said.

“And if we get that many, then we have a plan to pull cattail seedlings from the middle of the marsh. With the extra hands on board, we can actually be proactive in pulling the seedlings instead of reactive, which will go a long way to eradicate the invasive reeds.”

RBCS work parties happen regularly but this week’s is assisted by volunteers from the Saanich Committee of Ducks Unlimited to remove more of the cattails. It’s been an ongoing battle, but there is hope for permanent eradication for the hybrid, invasive cattail that grows in thick groves and chokes out everything else, Pym said.

The key to cutting cattails is having Saanich workers come through earlier in the week with a brush cutter to chop the reed groves down to stumps. The work party will then carry those reeds to the road for pickup.

Barbara Schubert, Saanich committee of Ducks Unlimited publicity chair, is enjoying her first year with the organization and plans to there on Saturday.

“It’s really a lot of fun,” she said.

“I know Ducks Unlimited has been a part of Rithet’s restoration on a greater level, but this is the first time volunteers from the local chapter are joining forces with the RBCS in the hands-on restoration of the open water area.”

Schubert joined after she attended the Ducks Unlimited annual dinner gala in 2013.

Ducks Unlimited will hold their 2014 dinner for the South Island on Nov. 15 at 5:30 p.m. at the Saanich Fairground.

It’s a major fundraiser for the organization, where they raise upwards of $40,000 through auctioning and ticket sales, all of it “earmarked for local wetlands,” such as Rithet’s Bog, Schubert said.

Tickets to the dinner are $60 and are expected to sell out.

Contact Daniel Shnitka at d_shnitka@ducks.ca or call 250-652-6203.

Ducks Unlimited is also looking for more members.

For more information, visit ducks.ca or call 250-652-5090.

reporter@saanichnews.com