The highlights from Year 2 (2020-21), Year 3 (2021-22), and Year 4 (2022-2023) are listed below.

Year 2 Highlights

This is an ambitious project to identify and map the flood basins in the Columbia Wetlands that are vulnerable to drought and climate change and to determine if and where the loss of water can be mitigated by local conservation actions. The three subprojects include (1) A remote sensing observation-based assessment of floodplain hydroperiod and wetland vulnerability analysis of 2600 ha of wetlands to determine if remote sensing can determine if the area of permanent open water has changed in the last 20 year compared to earlier years; (2) Upper Columbia Wetland Vulnerability Assessment Project is an analysis to hydrologically characterize the different types of wetlands and determine which wetlands are most vulnerable to drought and loss of water overwinter and (3) Importance of Ground Water to the Hydrologic Mass Balance of Columbia Wetlands provides an assessment of the importance of ground water to the wetlands during spring, summer and fall seasons. Together these projects will enable the hydrologic team to develop hydrologic budgets of the different types of wetlands and determine those wetlands most vulnerable to drought.

Recent hydroclimatic change has impacted flows and floodplain inundation patterns on the Upper Columbia River, BC, Canada, leading to a reduction in open water wetland areas. The over-arching objective was to develop and report on the data, methods and results of a proof-of-concept study to identify wetlands at risk by evaluating wetland hydroperiod change in the Upper Columbia River Floodplain.

The goal of the Upper Columbia Wetland Vulnerability Assessment project is to determine the various types of wetlands in the upper Columbia Wetlands based on their hydrologic functions, determine which types of wetlands are more vulnerable to drought (and climate change), and to assess which wetlands may be amenable to conservation actions to prevent the loss of water. This work is classifying the wetlands based on their hydrologic and morphological characteristics. In May 2020, the team installed continuous water level loggers in 37 wetlands, 2 in the Columbia River, and 4 drive point piezometers to monitor shallow groundwater input in 4 sites. Precipitation and evaporation are also available from local data. Together, these data will be used to construct water balances of the monitored wetlands for extrapolation across all wetland types in the upper Columbia.

Year 3 Highlights

MacDonald Hydrology Consultants (MacHydro) in collaboration with the Columbia Wetland Stewardship Partners (CWSP) conducted a project to evaluate wetland vulnerability and determine priority wetlands where management actions like conservation or mitigation should be implemented. The objectives of the hydrology subproject included: monitoring wetland water levels in 38 wetlands, characterizing the wetlands into types based on geomorphic and hydrometric data, constructing conceptual wetland water balances, evaluating how hydrometeorological conditions and wetland water levels may change under future simulated climate change projections, and describing the wetland vulnerability to climate change based on the conceptual understanding of predominant water sources and fluxes to inform future mitigation actions.

Year 4 Highlights

This project combines hydrological and ecological assessments to better understand the Columbia Wetland Complex and the individual wetlands within it. It includes a hydrological classification of the different wetland types observed within the Columbia Wetlands and the ecological consequences of their differences. We assessed the vulnerability of the wetlands to climate change and the potential for beaver dam analogues (BDAs) to be used as a low-tech and relatively natural restoration technique. We restored (and repaired) one 54 ha wetland with several beaver dams and gathered the data and support needed to acquire a permit for another 22 ha wetland. We provided The Nature Trust of BC and Environment & Climate Change Canada, who own and manage a parcel of the Columbia National Wildlife Management Area, with the data and guidance to install and repair beaver dams in site 71 to raise the water levels for spring migrating birds.