Planting Trees, Restoring Waterfronts

This is a guest post from the Muskrat Watershed Council. Text by Meagan Rae. Photos courtesy of Muskrat Watershed Council.

With the coming of 2019, the Muskrat Watershed Council (MWC) (Profiled in the Winter 2018 edition of the PEN!)is looking back and reflecting on last year’s projects – including the Natural Edge Project. In Spring 2018, Watersheds Canada partnered with the MWC and Algonquin College’s Office of Applied Research to undertake the monumental task of planting 45,000 native trees and plants over the next three years along agricultural stream banks and shorelines in the Muskrat Lake watershed.

A golden retriever lays in the grass next to a hole and newly planted shrubs.
Sometimes you need a canine friend to help out with digging holes and such. It’s hard work.

The goal of this project, created by Watersheds Canada, is to restore shorelines to their natural state. This in turn will stabilize the soil, reduce erosion and sedimentation while offering new habitat for wildlife and fish. The new trees and shrubs will also help absorb excess nutrients and prevent them from entering the water which causes problematic algae growths commonly seen in Muskrat Lake.

With funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and LUSH Cosmetics, Watersheds Canada, MWC and Algonquin College set a goal of planting 15,000 trees and shrubs on five agricultural properties before the end of 2018. A planting steering committee of local

Woman in a red coat instructing a group of high school students outdoors in a windy field.
Student volunteers receiving instructions.

volunteers was formed to oversee planning and preparation and keep the project on schedule. Notices were sent out through email, the press and social media asking for local volunteers to donate their time to help plant shorelines. And in traditional Ottawa Valley style, the community responded!

Three young men in fall clothing stand together displaying some tree planting equipment.
Planting buddies.

More than two hundred local and Ottawa-area volunteers came out to plant the five sites over the ten day period. Students from Algonquin College’s Pembroke and Ottawa campuses came out to help, and so did local high school students from Fellowes High School in Pembroke and Opeongo High School in Cobden. Local businesses, such as Pembroke’s Jp2g Consultants, also took time out of their busy work

A toddler in an orange rain jacket using a small shovel to start a hole, helped by a woman carrying an infant on her back in a carrier.
Even some pint size volunteers pitched in to rehabilitate shoreline habitats.

schedules during the week to lend a hand. On November 6, 2018, the last shrub out of 15,000 plants was safely secured in the ground and year one of this three-year project was complete!

Watersheds Canada, MWC and Algonquin College’s Office of Applied Research send out their thanks to all the volunteers who came out last year to complete this goal. We would love to see them return again for next fall’s plantings. Thanks also goes out to the 2018 property owners for agreeing to join in on this project to improve the future of the Muskrat Lake watershed.

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