Last Friday I had the pleasure of working with 35 other volunteers in a regeneration project near the Ottawa River organized by the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA) in association with the National Capital Commission, who had donated the land. They had excavated some grass near a natural water spring (cattails grew there, so they knew water sat there even before the excavation), and so they determined that it would be a great place to build a wetland. Learn more about the project here.
This area, near Remic Rapids along the bike path, had already been dug out to prepare for this planting session. They had left the cattails in place, and added a sandy area for turtles to lay their eggs. Their excavator had also built a snake hutch in a place they believed wouldn’t get flooded in the spring. These areas need to be south-facing, in order to keep them as warm as possible. The before site looked rough but ready to be planted!
Volunteers began by placing out all the native trees and shrubs according to planned zones. Each zone had specific species that would do better in wetter areas and create a space that wildlife could thrive. Trees like willow and red maple were up higher on the banks, and some other native species of bushes were inter dispersed. They had also included many fruiting bushes such as highbush cranberry and many others to provide more food for local animals and birds.
The big dig!
We were all placed in zones, given shovels, some buckets of woodchips, and set to work. The ground was challenging but it was hot and sunny and everyone seemed in great spirits. I was placed in zone 3, higher up the banks. My team was lucky– we had mostly clay, but other teams struggled against the rockier ground closer to the river.
Labour of love
The project was organized by Jen Lamoureaux from the RVCA. She was a real star in staying organized, even with us enthusiastic volunteers badgering her asking ‘Where does THIS tree go?”.
Jen expects about 30% of the trees to not make it through the winter, so that’s why we plant more trees than necessary. She also hopes that beavers from the river will come over and help cull a few as the years go on.
This project required extensive planning. From getting permission from the National Capital Commission to making sure that trees were planted in the right places, Jen had spent the last year making sure this project was a success. As a group, we planted 385 shrubs and trees, including: nannyberry, highbush cranberry, black elderberry, sweetgale, common buttonbush, speckled alder, red maple, silver maple, dogwood, and variety of willow species.
I met some great people, passionate about conservation, and excited about the new diversity we were supporting.
Happy to help!
I loved planting trees and can’t wait to come back in the spring to see how it’s doing! Thank you to the whole RVCA team, including City Stream Watch members, Chelsey and Justin, who are all so nice and welcoming!