The Centre Creek watershed is located in northeast Surrey encompassing a catchment area of approximately 3.2 km2, from Fraser Heights to the west, along the Surrey upland ridge north of the Trans Canada Highway, to the 176th Street interchange to the east. Historically, this salmon bearing creek was over 1,000 meters long flowing from Fraser Heights down through Surrey Bend Park, out to the Fraser River. Unfortunately, over the past 20 years this creek has been negatively impacted by intense development within its catchment area. As a result the upper southern reaches of the creek became unsuitable habitat for salmonids.
Over the past three years The Land Conservancy, in partnership with Canada Lands Corporation (CLC), Fisheries & Oceans Canada, and PKI Northmark Construction Ltd., have worked at restoring and protecting the southern most degraded portion of Centre Creek. Collectively, we have restored 250 meters of Centre Creek, opening up an estimated 500 total meters of salmon habitat. To ensure long-term viability of the creek, the 20 acres of TLC owned land adjacent to the creek have been protected in perpetuity under conservation covenant held by CLC. Ultimately, this partnership has provided Surrey with over 20 acres of protected greenspace and 500 additional meters of salmon habitat within the Centre Creek watershed.
As new owners of 20 acres around Centre Creek TLC is now responsible for coordinating all land management issues relating to the land and creek. These management plans, and any future amendments, will also be approved by Canada Lands Company as the covenant holders. This Interim Management Plan is designed to guide the management of the Centre Creek site in its first five years. For this five-year period, TLC will carry out all maintenance on the site including all plantings, thinning, trail building, clean-ups, and signage.
Significance of the Site
The significance of Centre Creek is best described when the entire watershed, including Surrey Bend Bog, is considered as a whole. According to the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS,) Surrey Bend and Centre Creek combine to form an area that has the greatest diversity of wetland types in the Fraser Valley lowlands. CWS found this area to support a diverse combination of wetland communities including floodplain forests, shrub thickets, marshes, and bogs. Centre Creek offers just the appropriate water regime conducive to the development of an extensive wet meadow system, and supports one of the largest bogs in the Fraser River system. These wet meadow and bog communities at the northern mouth of Centre Creek, at the Fraser River, rely on the regularity and overall health of Centre Creek. In protecting the uppermost southern reaches of Centre Creek TLC has a direct impact on ensuring the health of these wetland communities, now protected as parkland by the Greater Vancouver Regional District.
An ecological study of Surrey Bend in 1992 found a high diversity of fish and aquatic invertebrates in the north part of Centre Creek. Salmonid species found in Centre Creek and the ditch system includes juveniles such as Chum fry, Coho fry and smolt, Chinook fry and smolt, and Sockeye fry. The study also showed Coho migrating up Centre Creek south to spawn in the upper reaches of the creek, although it has not been confirmed whether the fish migrated as far south as the TLC property. Fourteen other non-salmonid species were found in the north end of Centre Creek, and a high diversity of invertebrates was also found. Large inputs of plant detritus from the Reed Canarygrass within the wet meadow of Surrey Bend support this rich diversity of aquatic fauna.
Terrestrial use of Centre Creek and Surrey Bend has never been formally studied and is therefore less understood or confirmed than the aquatic use of the area. Local residents have provided some information on wildlife sightings and likely uses of the area have been extrapolated in an ecological study from general sources on range, habits, and habitat of different wildlife species. Of the wildlife occurring in this area the species of most significance are those that are on national or provincial lists as rare, threatened, vulnerable, or sensitive. Species thought to occur in Surrey Bend, which are found on the national list as vulnerable include Cooper’s Hawk, Peale’s Peregrine Falcon, Trumpeter Swan, and Keen’s Long-eared Myotis. From the provincial list species categorized as endangered include Keen’s Long-eared Myotis, and Townsends Big-eared Bat. Those categorized as sensitive include but are not limited to Lewis’ Woodpecker, Trowbridge’s Shrew, Bald Eagle, Pacific Jumping Mouse, and the Creeping Vole.
TLC is committed to the protection of ecologically, historically, and culturally significant sites in British Columbia. The protection of habitats such as Centre Creek and Surrey Bend are increasingly important as endangered species are losing their habitat at an alarming rate. In the case of Centre Creek and Surrey Bend this area represents the last wild or natural space left in northeast Surrey. The area has been intensively developed for residential use over the past 20 years leaving greenspace at a minimum. By maintaining the health of Centre Creek TLC is providing important habitat within the creek and associated wetlands for numerous nationally and provincially recognized endangered species.
Canada Lands Corporation holds a Section 219 covenant on the TLC 20 acres of land. This conservation covenant recognizes the importance of preserving and enhancing the ecosystems and biodiversity of the lands together with Centre Creek. The covenant restricts any subdivision, sale, right of way, or easement on all or any part of the lands. It also restricts any removal, cutting, or destruction of any indigenous vegetation on the lands except as is necessary with prior approval of CLC. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if any living or dead tree on the lands poses an imminent threat to safety of any person, that tree may be cut down or trimmed without the prior written consent of CLC. No pesticides, or other deleterious substances may be used on the lands. Any public access improvements must be designed so as to cause a minimum of disturbance to natural drainage patterns, and no impervious materials may be layed down.
The covenant requires a land management plan be developed by TLC and approved by CLC that addresses all restrictions as detailed in the covenant including provisions for parking, access routes, trails, signage washroom facilities, park interpretation and educational facilities. An interim land management plan has been developed to meet the requirements of the covenant and the needs of TLC staff.