Cougar Canyon ER #108 Warden’s Report – 2003

Posted February 3, 2003 | Categories : 108,Issues,Management,Rare Species,Warden Reports |
Access to the reserve was again intermittent due to periods when work at the gravel pit kept staff too busy to unlock the gate. The following visits were made :3rd May – Access not obtained.20th June – The area around the last lake at the south end was checked with no evidence of disturbance seen.A count of Western Painted Turtles had been intended but air temperature of 12°C was too cold for any individuals to expose themselves; water temperature 20°C, 100% cloud cover, occasional drizzle and light wind.The opportunity was taken to search for an alternative entry to the reserve by exploring southward along the hydro line towards Oyama Lake public road. None of the tracks examined crossed Oyama Creek so the power company appears not to have a through route by road. The most persistent of these tracks turned up-hill parallel to the creek and was followed steeply in 4-wheel drive for some distance before being abandoned. It would probably ultimately lead to the mouth of Oyama Creek canyon where the local water agency has a small facility that is reached by a gated track through private property from Oyama Lake Road to the south. Even if it were to be possible to arrange for entry, I do not consider this tortuous way a feasible route to access the main part of the reserve although it could be useful as an approach to the canyon of Oyama Creek itself which is now an addition to the reserve.

In regard to the present requirement of having to have an employee at the gravel pit unlock the gate at the end of Sawmill Road to obtain access to the  reserve – it must be pointed out that the private road built by the power company to construct and maintain its power line passes out of its legal right-of-way on to ecological reserve land at several points along the route. It is not unreasonable to request reciprocal treatment from that company in return for this unofficial easement by granting a key to the Crown for its lawful access. Formal acquisition of Aquila by Fortis Power this year offers a suitable opportunity for an official approach by Parks BC to the company to request the right to have direct keyed access for the  purposes of managing the reserve but not for conducting public groups.

2nd July – Entry not obtained.

6th July – Entry not obtained in the morning but was available in the afternoon.

It had been intended to check the north end of the reserve. After driving half way along the right-of-way road it was decided that a hot truck engine grinding in 4-wheel drive up and down steep grade was too much of a fire risk in the extreme dryness prevailing and the effort was abandoned

Earlier in the summer Aquila work crews had been cutting brush under the power line and ceased when conditions became too dry. This flammable material had been left in place.

Turtle count – air temperature 20°C, water temperature 22°C, 50% cloud cover, 1 – 2 Beaufort scale wind.

7 on wood, 2 swimming

Without having had the ability to make appropriate counts for the last two years it is unknown whether this extremely low figure is related to the very hot and dry summer weather and lower water level or to some unknown catastrophic event since counts in 2001. Water level at this time on Lake 11 was approximately 0.5 m lower at this time of year than ever seen before.

Subsequently, back country travel was banned and no further attempt to access the reserve was made.

Volunteer time = 8½ hours.