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Volunteers Leslie Roberts and Lisa Signor planting willows with Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter. The trees are vital to habitat restoration efforts along waterways in the area. 

Image: Park Record

Though Park City is better known for our mountains, area wetlands are also a crucial part of Park City's natural surroundings. Thankfully, the folks at Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter work tirelessly to preserve the these fragile wildlife habitats. This week, they'll be out in force planting willows along East Canyon Creek and are looking for volunteers to help with plantings on Thursday, Nov. 2 from 1-5 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 4 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. to help in their efforts 

We talked to Drew Potter, the conservation coordinator at Swaner, who is responsible for planning and implementing restoration and land management projects on the Preserve to find out a bit more about this project. 

Why is wetland habitat important to Park City and why should people help preserve it?

East Canyon Creek is the largest drainage in our watershed, and the conservation efforts of today will help improve the health of the watershed for future generations.

Why are trees--and in particular, willows--important to the stream restoration work?

Willows are particularly great for stream restoration work because they can be planted as poles, rather than as seeds or potted plants. This gives them a head start, allowing them to grow larger faster, and also allows us to plant them with minimal disturbance to the stream bank.

What local flora and fauna depend on the habitat provided by willows?

Bonneville Cutthroat Trout, which is on the Utah Sensitive Species List; stream bank willows also help improve the water quality for other fish and provide habitat for beavers and birds, as well as food for moose, elk, and deer.

How does planting willows improve the water quality?

By providing shade, which reduces water temperatures and increases oxygen availability for fish. Willows also absorb phosphorous runoff, and reduce stream bank erosion, which minimizes sediment levels in the water.

What other things are being done to help with preservation? Are there other volunteer opportunities?

In addition to planting thousands of willows along East Canyon Creek every year, we also work with volunteers to install beaver dam analogs, stream revetments, and bird boxes that provide habitat for wildlife. Volunteers also help us perform water quality monitoring. In about one month we’ll need help spreading native seed on the Preserve as well.

Swaner is hoping to get about 12 volunteers to come out to help with this week's willow plantings. Snacks will be provided and volunteers will also take home a Swaner water bottle as thanks. If you're interesting in volunteering you can email andrew.potter@usu.edu to sign up!

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