SHaRP members Jenna McBeth and Kyle Prakash remove invasive plants.

SHaRP members Jenna McBeth and Kyle Prakash remove invasive plants.

Remaining SHaRP

Environmental program approaches its 16th year.

One of Surrey’s most successful and long-running environmental stewardship programs is heading into its 16th year.

The Salmon Habitat Restoration Program (SHaRP) has been operating in Surrey since 1996, rehabilitating Surrey streamsides to improve fish habitats.

In the mid 1990s, Surrey staff recommended using students to repair stream banks, hauling out invasive species of plants and replacing them with healthy ones.

The students would learn, the city would get a bargain for the work, and the salmon habitat would benefit greatly.

Carrie Baron, who was a consultant for the city in 1995, was charged with putting the program into action.

Now the City of Surrey’s manager of drainage and the environment, she says she’s not surprised that the program is doing so well.

“I’ve never seen how it couldn’t be a good program,” Baron said. “I don’t know how people could say it’s not having an effect.”

Since its inception, 430 students have tackled riparian areas, bringing them in to a healthier state.

Much of the stream side work would not be in the city’s budget, Baron said, adding it gets done because of the program.

She points out it’s a win from every aspect, the kids learn and gain meaningful work experience, the city gets a deal on riparian work and the habitat benefits.

The 2011 program will increase from 22 students to 28, if external funds come through.

It would consist of six team leaders with post-secondary education and 16 team members with high school education.

For more information, visit www.surrey.ca/SHaRP

kdiakiw@surreyleader.com

Surrey North Delta Leader