Permanent Photo Point Monitoring

Photo point monitoring is a method of repeat photography used to track changes on the landscape through time.  One of the most well-known series of repeat photographs is the Mountain Legacy Project, which is recreating historical photos dating back to 1861 in the Canadian Rockies.

Here at Splitrock we use this technique to monitor the progress of re-vegetation on our ecological restoration projects.  Below are two images from our Powerhouse site.  The first was taken before restoration work in 2010, and the second one was taken almost exactly two years later after we had begun to remediate the soil, and re-plant the area with native wildflowers, grasses, and shrubs.

Currently, we are working on establishing permanent photo points at all of the wetlands in the Lillooet area.  We hope to return to these photos through the years to monitor the health of our wetlands.  Each image includes the surrounding landscape, because wetlands are dynamic features, which may grow, shrink, or move in response to human alterations on the landscape, ecological succession, geo-morphological processes, and climate change.


Andrew James, Fred James, and Yvonne Michell establishing a photo point of a wetland on Duffy Lake Road, from the deactivated Boulder FSR.

We would like to work with landowners and community members to re-monitor the photo points at each of our wetlands, so we are developing protocols, data-sheets, and other resources to help train new users on this exciting and powerful technique.  If you are interested in photo point monitoring, or if you have a project which would benefit from repeat photography, please contact us, we would love to share what we have learned.




Sustainable Living Leadership Program 2017


I’d like to tell  you about a special program happening this summer on the Fraser River–only ten community leaders & innovators will be selected for this unique 26 day trip!

On the Sustainable Living Leadership Program (SLLP), you travel 1,400km down BC’s longest river–one of the greatest salmon rivers in the world. Starting in the Fraser‎’s headwaters near Mount Robson you travel by voyageur canoe, then by raft through the Fraser Canyon, and by voyageur canoe again through the Fraser Valley to the Pacific Ocean.

Evenings are spent camping under the stars along the banks of the river, while days are spent learning about salmon, stewardship and sustainability. Engaging with peers & facilitators, you learn from and get inspired by the RSBC’s extensive network of community leaders, as you meet them in their communities. Team building, conflict resolution, communication and critical thinking are also part of this dynamic program.

Each day you’re surrounded by breathtaking scenery as you ‎make your way through ten of BC’s fourteen biogeoclimatic zones. You witness first-hand ancient rainforests, deserts & grasslands, sage brush and floodplain.You discuss what it means to live sustainably; you learn about Watershed CPR (conservation, protection and restoration) and how to lower your ecological footprint.

By the time you reach the Pacific Ocean, you have designed your own personal sustainability project and increased your skill and confidence level to have a greater impact in your community.

If this sounds interesting to you, visit for details about the program and how to apply. The application deadline is April 30th.

I hope you apply.  You can connect with Kim North at Splitrock Environmental for more information and help putting together your application.  The Lillooet Naturalist Society will support one or two participants with a cash contribution of $500.00.


Fin Donnelly

Chair & Founder

Rivershed Society of BC

p.s. Please feel free to forward this note to any other community leaders or innovators you think might benefit from this program.

Wetland Restoration and Enhancement Workshop

Are you interested in wetlands and the creatures that call them home?  Would you like to learn more about the process of restoring wetlands where they have been lost?   Are you hoping to develop your environmental science skill-set and add to your resume?  Do you love frogs and salamanders?

This workshop might be for you.  Please join us for three days of FREE wetland restoration workshops presented by Splitrock Environmental, the BC Wildlife Federation, and E. Wind Consulting.

Participants will learn:

  • How to identify and survey for the four species of frogs and salamanders which live in the Lillooet area
  • How to identify and interpret the classes of wetland found in BC
  • How to design wetland restoration projects for the benefit of breeding amphibians
  • The considerations involved with altering water movement on a site to create wetland habitat
  • Soil preparation and plant selection methods for re-planting wetlands.

Register now, space is limited:


April 19, 2017 – Introduction to Amphibian Identification and Survey Techniques
(Elke Wind, E. Wind Consulting, Nanaimo)
9:00 AM Welcome
9:15 – 10:15 Amphibian ecology and species identification
10:15-10:30 Break
10:30-11:30 Amphibian handling and survey techniques
11:30-12:00 Equipment and data management
12:00 – 12:30 Lunch (please bring your own)
12:30-4:00 Field component – overview and practise for species identification and survey techniques
April 20, 2017 – Wetland Restoration Introductory Course
9:15 AM Welcome
9:30 – 10:30 Wetland Classes and Plant Associations – Identifying wetland plant association types for identifying wetland targets – Neil Fletcher, Wetlands Manager, BC Wildlife Federation
10:30-10:45 Break
10:45-12:30 Amphibian oriented wetland restoration considerations – Elke Wind, Herpetologist, E. Wind Consulting
12:30 – 1:30 Lunch (please bring your own)
1:30-3:00 Basic techniques for restoring wetlands, Neil Fletcher, Wetlands Program Manager
3:00-4:00 Introduction to the Lillooet Wetland Enhancement Sites: Tristan Banwell, Iraleigh Anderson, and Phil Johnston
April 21, 2017 – Wetland Restoration Introductory Field Day
9:15 AM Convene at Splitrock
9:30 Drive to Spray Creek Ranch
10:00-12:00 Field survey, mapping and planning @ Spray Creek Ranch
12:00-1:30 Drive back to Lillooet and lunch Break
1:30 Convene at Splitrock
1:45 Drive to Lillooet Secondary School
2:00-4:00 Field survey, mapping and planning @ Lillooet Secondary School

2016 Púslum̓cw (Wet Ground) Wetland Inventory Public Sharing Session

We are ready so share the results of our first season of the Púslum̓cw Wetland Inventory.  Please join us for a public information session regarding what we found during our surveys, and what are the next directions for this project.  Please find the details on the poster below.  If you have further questions, please call Iraleigh at 587-521-9185, or Shauni at 250-256-0004.

Survival on the Land – Outdoor Ecocultural Education Series 2017: Day One

On February 17th the grade 3, 4, and 5 students from George Murray Elementary school came down to Splitrock for the first day of our 2017 Survival on the Land – Outdoor Ecocultural Education Series.  This program is about sharing outdoor skills and knowledge that is based on the land and culture of this region.  Over the next three months, we will be meeting with our friends from George Murray two more times and practicing a variety of seasonal skills including wildlife tracking, mapping, shelter-building, wild-crafting, and ecological journaling.  We hope to create inspiring and safe outdoor activities, and work with the students from George Murray to explore these exciting topics.  The activities from our first day are described below.

Wildlife Tracking  

Winter is the time when animals write their stories upon the landscape.  Like a blank sheet of paper, the winter snow provides an open medium to be filled by the paw prints of passing animals. We used plaster casts of local wildlife prints (Mule deer, snowshoe hare, coyote, raccoon, red squirrel, and wolverine) to create our own stories in the snow and mud.  The students took turns using the casts to create tracks, and then shared these stories with each other.  We took turns playing detective, trying to unravel what happened.  Did the coyote catch the hare down by the water?  Or, did the hare swim to the other side and hop to safety?  The ability to read such drama from the winter landscape requires patience and attention.  The students were rewarded for their efforts, and showed us many signs of wildlife on the landscape including wildlife trails, scat, squirrel middens, browsed shrubs, nests, beaver trees, tracks, fur, and more.


The next exercise was about learning the basic elements of a field map, and how to use a compass to orient yourself if you happen to lose your bearing.  Students each created their own map that they could use to navigate from our central muster point to their own quiet journaling area.  I am happy to report that the maps were excellent.  The students made functional field maps, including each of the 3 crucial map elements.   By including a North arrow, students made sure that anyone who looks at their maps will be able to properly orient it to the surrounding landscape.  By adding legends students were able to quickly add details and landmarks to their maps without spending a too much time writing labels.  Finally, by including a descriptive title the students communicated the meaning and purpose of their creations.  While some of the adults were intimidated by the technical aspects of mapping, the students got after it like professionals.  They demonstrated a good knowledge of the cardinal directions, and their position within the landscape.  Though the technical side of mapping may be a bit scary at first, humans are naturally gifted navigators, each with our own set of powerful mental maps.  It was inspiring to watch the students deploy this magical capacity with poise and competence.

Nature Journaling

The final activity of the day was to find a quiet place in the forest and write a short journal entry.  This sort of nature journaling is an excellent excuse to slow down and observe the world around you.  The natural world is our ultimate source of inspiration, and sometimes the best way to capture this beauty is to just sit quietly, pencil in hand, and see what happens…

New greenhouse lighting

Our nursery staff at Splitrock are busy preparing for all the upcoming projects that will take place throughout the year. To support our restoration and reclamation work, we have over 40000 native seedlings planted in the greenhouse including 5000 whitebark pine seedlings, 15000 sedge seedlings, 6000 blue joint grass seedlings, and 15000 sitka alder seedlings.

This week we installed lamps into the greenhouse to extend the growing season. These lamps will mimic spring conditions and ‘trick’ the seedlings into starting growth sooner. The lamps will turn on at dusk until 9 pm, and then again from 2 am until dawn. To further help the seedlings along, we have also turned on the under-bench heating. Water is heated in a wood furnace and runs through tubes installed under the greenhouse benches. This process warms the seedlings and promotes plant growth.  In just a few weeks we can expect all of the seedlings to sprout and begin growing!

Come take a stroll around the Splitrock office and spawning channels to explore the animal tracks left behind in the snow.

The Western Screech Owls call

Although the weather is still cold, very soon we can expect to hear the sounds of spring around Lillooet. In the upcoming weeks, the Western screech owl will begin courtship in hopes of finding a mate.

Western screech owls have very distinct feather tufts on the corner of their head along with bright colouring. Their bellies are pale with dark streaks, and their back is typically brown or grey. Perhaps the western screech owl’s most distinguishing feature is their size – at only 150-250 grams, a screech owl would fit in the palm of your hand!

In Canada, the western screech owl is found only in British Columbia. 350 to 500 adults remain along BC’s coast and southern valleys, including Lillooet, Kamloops, Lumby, Cranbrook, and the Okanagan. In the Lillooet area, the red-listed interior western screech owl subspecies can be found.

Although screech owls are found in a variety of habitats, their favourite is the dense cottonwood riparian ecosystems that boarder many rivers, streams, and wetlands across BC. Screech owls will roost and nest in large cottonwood or aspen tree cavities. In Lillooet, the screech owl has been observed nesting in old ponderosa pine trees as well. Interestingly, screech owls do not make their own nests, but rather find cavities made by large woodpeckers or cavities where branches have fallen off a tree.

To help the western screech owl:

Slow down at night when driving along rivers or streams! Collisions with vehicles remain a leading cause of death and injury for screech owls. Because screech owls are nocturnal, they will fly and hunt after dark. Slowing down beside screech habitat at night will help prevent collisions.

Protect riparian cottonwood ecosystems! The cottonwood riparian ecosystems that Western screech owls use as habitat are heavily impacted by human activities. By protecting and preserving these cottonwood habitats, screech owls will have nesting and roosting trees into the future.

Install a nesting box! If you are fortunate to live beside riparian habitat, installing nest boxes on trees will provide nesting sites for screech owls.

In the last weeks of January and early February, take an evening walk by a river and listen for the male western screech owls calling for a female mate. Although they won’t start breeding until March or April, the screech owl’s mating call is one of the first signs of spring. Check out their call on ebird!

A western screech owl perched on a ponderosa pine tree in the Lillooet area. Photo credit: Ian Routley