Stream Tender Magazine

November 2012

Cochrane Foundation’s Willow Planting



    In the early spring of 2012, a total of 500 + willow and tree plants were planted on Bighill Creek by BVHD, with funding support from the Cochrane Foundation.

    The Cochrane Foundation has been a strong support NGO and partner, for a number of BVHD fish habitat enhancement projects in the Cochrane area. Primarily on the Millennium Creek Restoration Program.

    BVHD has monitored the willow crop that was planted on the BHC this spring and the results are very promising. Most of the plants are doing very well and they have made it thru the summer and into the late fall dormancy period!

    A large percentage of the crop was planted in Glenbow Park, in the heart of the Town of Cochrane, so the plants will be quite evident to many Cochrane residents, after a few years of growth.

    All 500 of the willow and poplar trees were Stage One pre-rooted cuttings, when they were planted into the ground along the streambanks.

Cochrane Community Grant Program’s Willow Planting



    Later on in the spring of 2012, another 500 + willow and poplar trees were planted on the Bighill Creek. The planting was a partnership effort between the Town of Cochrane and Bow Valley Habitat Development.

    BVHD provided the plants and completed the planting along the stream banks. The project was funded by the Town of Cochrane Community Grant Program.



    Although these Stage One pre-rooted willow and tree cuttings were planted a little later on in the spring, they are still doing very well. Over the next growing season in 2013, the plants will show major development, with root systems already well established!

    With the methodology that BVHD uses in its willow and tree planting programs, willows and trees can be planted throughout the spring, summer and well into late fall.

    This full season planting option can be quite advantageous for many different planting requirements. The key factor is that the ground along streams is always moist and ideal for planting willows and poplar trees!

Left: This photo was taken in late September and it shows how one of these willows are doing.

Left: This photo was taken in late September of 2012 and the leaves are just starting to change color on the plant.

Bow Valley Habitat Development’s Willow Planting

Above:  This is a photo of one of the many poplar trees that were planted along the banks of the Bighill Creek this year. The poplar trees are fast growing, but they are also prime targets of rodents when they are in this early stage of their development.

“ Many Trees From One! “

Basal Shoots

Or Suckers

Spread Out

From The

Mother Tree

Roots Move Up Into Dried Soil Conditions and

Meristems Develop New Shoots

The Mother Tree draws moisture and nutrient from the soil close to the creek and feeds the spreading root system and Basal Shoots, which develop into new trees

    One of the major advantages of planting poplar trees along a stream bank, is their ability to produce many trees from the same network of root systems.

    After a poplar tree has matured enough to spread its root system and develop meristems off of the main root, they will grow Basal Shoots. These shoots are commonly referred to as suckers, and they are new trees that grow out of the ground in close proximatey to the mother plant.

    The advantage of this type of new tree recruitment is that poplar trees will start to grow in areas of soil that are low in nutrient and possibly too dry to support seed growth.

    This makes the poplar trees an ideal choice for riparian planting programs. Once the plant is established along the stream bank, in a moist and nutrient rich habitat, its roots will spread out over the years and develop multiple trees from the first one that was planted!

    During the spring 2012 planting program, BVHD planted 440 Large Diameter willow plants, 10 Stage One and 100 Stage Two pre-rooted cuttings along Bighill Creek. The large diameter plants are a little more labour intensive to plant, but they are by far the fastest growing and better surviving willow plant cuttings.

    There is a photo of one of these plants on the cover page of this issue, at the bottom left hand side of the page. If you zoom in on this photo, you can see how long the branches are, and all of this development occurred over one growing season on the BHC.

    Because the large diameter plants are placed deeper in the ground, I often plant them a little further back from the waters edge on the creek. With the larger diameter stock of the cuttings, they are less likely to be damaged by rodents, especially the 3M’s (Mice, Moles and Muskrats). The new limbs are also a lot higher up the trunk of the plant, where some rodents are less likely to climb.

    The 100 Stage Two plants that were planted by BVHD are also doing very well by the end of this growing season, and I expect to see some rapid growth this next year!

    BVHD provides the Stage Two plants for volunteer planting programs. The developed tops and established root systems give the cuttings a better chance at survival, especially if they are planted properly, and with care!

Left: This is one of the Stage Two willow cuttings that was planted this spring. The photo was taken in mid-September when the leaves were just starting to turn color. The roots continue to develop after the leaves are gone, right thru until there is frost in the ground!

“Old poplar trees provide ideal habitat for a number of native birds!”

Above:  This is a photo of what a Stage One Pre-rooted willow cutting looks like, before it is planted in the ground.

Above:  This is one of the chosen planting sites located

              along Bighill Creek, in the Town of Cochrane.