Map the Rainbow Creek wetland for B.C. Rivers Day 

What: B.C. Rivers Day

Where: Rainbow Park

When: Sunday, Sept. 21, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

There’s a whole world of dragonflies, beavers, birds and berries thriving in the wetland by Rainbow Creek. Most of the time this world goes completely unnoticed.

But on Sunday Sept. 21 many of the secrets of the Rainbow Park wetland will be uncovered in a family barefoot wetland mapping project.

The wetland exploration is part of Whistler’s celebration of B.C. Rivers Day, a day where events across the province highlight the recreational, environmental, economic and aesthetic importance of B.C.’s rivers.

At the event each family or group will be given a piece of graph paper where they can draw the details of a section of the Rainbow Creek wetland. They can map things like berries or birds or woodpecker holes – just about anything they see or hear in the wetlands.

They can also map the work of one very industrious beaver, who has made a big lodge for himself as well as three sturdy dams in the creek.

Once all of the information is gathered on the graph paper it will then be transferred onto a large-scale habitat map.

"You can get an exact replica of what you saw on the ground onto this large scale map," said Veronica Woodruff, fish and wildlife technician with the municipality.

People collecting this information will be helping to gather some baseline data for the area which may be changing in coming years.

Woodruff said there has been some discussions about introducing flow from 21 Mile Creek into Rainbow Creek to make the water more consistent with the original flows in the 1950s when it used to be a Kokanee salmon run.

"The flow regime has been changed quite a bit," she said, adding that some of the flow was diverted in the past to prevent flooding in the area.

"There’s a lot of talk about trying to restore old flow regimes just to increase water quality and that kind of thing."

After all the data is collected it will be used by the Community Habitat Resource Project, a community Web-based library of habitat mapping and geo-spatial information.

The information gathered at Rainbow Park on B.C. Rivers Day will be some of the first things to be inputted into CHRP Web site which should be up and running this week.

A clothesline display of invertebrates caught from the wetland will also be on display at Rainbow Park.

There will be dragonfly larvae, leeches, aquatic worms, damselflies, mayflies and more. Woodruff said the display will be a good cross section of things living in the wetland.

"When you do an invertebrate survey you can tell your water quality quite clearly from the bugs that you trap because some of them can only live in really good quality water, like the mayflies and the stoneflies," said Woodruff.

"They’ll be the first to die off if there’s any instant change."

The museum will also have displays showing the original fishing lodge in Whistler dating back 90 years ago.

Along with refreshments there will also be free canoe rentals at the park.

B.C. Rivers Day is held throughout the province on Sunday, Sept. 28 this year. Whistler is hosting the celebration a week early. In Pemberton the B.C. Rivers Day celebration will be held on Saturday, Sept. 27 at the Pemberton Museum Grounds from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be an information booth, an invertebrate display and more as part of the Pemberton Country Fair.

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