The Corporation of Delta, Metro Vancouver, the Province of British Columbia and Environment Canada are working together to carry out a 100-year management plan for Burns Bog that will preserve and restore ecosystem services that make Delta a better place to live in.
The ecological integrity of Burns Bog faces a range of challenges resulting from many decades of peat extraction, drainage, filling, conversion to agriculture, and adjacent urban and industrial uses. Drainage ditches and survey lines were cut through Burns Bog in the early 1900s, but the most significant drainage activity is associated with peat harvesting (1940s-1980s).
View a map of the disturbed areas in Burns Bog.
Before peat mining and farming activities, Burns Bog covered about 48 km2. During the 20th century, the Bog’s area was reduced to about 30 km2.
Drainage caused a lower water table in the bog. These drier conditions allow trees to take over and remove even more water from the bog. Drier peat also means a greater risk of fire. In response to a large bog fire in 2005, the Corporation of Delta developed a Burns Bog Fire Management Plan, which is updated annually. Delta also worked with Metro Vancouver to put staff protocols in place to minimize the risk of fire caused by human error.
The main goal is to keep the water table high so that bog plants can grow. Drainage ditches are being blocked to retain more precipitation in the dry summer months. No other restoration has been undertaken to this point, with the assumption that a higher water table would bring about system-wide changes favouring bog species and the bog ecosystem.
Ditches have been blocked with peat dams, wood dams, steel weirs, as well as naturally occurring beaver dams. Most of the 190 dams constructed to date have been built with plywood, using wooden stakes as bracing. The dams are then filled with peat dug from a nearby borrow-pit.
Working with Beavers
Beavers have been instrumental in blocking many of the ditches throughout Burns Bog. Most of the time, we are very happy with their work. Sometimes the dams are built in ditches near roads and adjacent lands, which can cause flooding and damage to access routes and property. In these cases, our crews will maintain the dams at a level that retains water in the bog areas, while allowing excess water to flow through the dam and prevent flooding.