Youth enviro squad effort results in tree planting

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A number of trees were planted along a creek bank in Glen Huron this week, a culmination of two years of environmental focus and fundraising by a group of young environmentalists.
Evening Martin and friends Dryden Dinsmore, Hazel Dempsey and Izzy Mitchell have reached a fundraising benchmark of $1,000 and decided to put the money toward stream rehabilitation.
The friends joined forces as a garlic mustard squad in 2019 to raise awareness about the invasive species. They also gave out 100 trees at the Dunedin Literary Festival, which yielded significant donations, and in 2020 they sold handmade goods at their roadside stand and in a couple of Creemore shops, including pottery magnets, pendants, flowers, baked goods and lavender sachets. The lavender was donated by Doug and Emily Finley, who put Martin in touch with landowner Joe Hamilton, who gave his permission for the tree planting.
Martin said trees are very beneficial along waterways because the roots hold the soil together and protect against erosion, and they shade the creek and keep the water cool, which is essential to healthy fish habitat.
“It makes me happy and I’m glad that we got to do something because we worked really hard… and we wanted to make a difference and I think this is going to make a little bit of a difference, at least for the fish that get to spawn in that river,” said Martin.
The squad plans to continue its environmental work through tree planting, and broadening focus to the oceans.
“We’re just going to keep doing what we can to help out,” said Martin. 
The original plan was to have a volunteer tree planting day, but due to pandemic public health protocols, they have left the planting to the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority (NVCA), with whom they have partnered for the project.
NVCA Healthy Waters Program Coordinator Shannon Stephens said 230 native trees and shrubs were planted on May 4, along with materials to improve their chance of survival, such as tree tubes, stakes, and mulch mats.
NVCA staff planted the trees on the Hamilton farm along the creek, which is a small tributary stream of the Mad River.
Normally, said Stephens, trees are planted on properties throughout the watershed with the help of roughly 1,000 volunteers but with the public health measures in place, that’s not possible. “Thanks to the generous support of other donors and funders, we were able to hire on a few great planters for May. We’ll be planting every day this month at different properties around the watershed, to make sure the trees get planted and aren’t wasted,” said Stephens. “By planting trees along streams and wetlands, they help restore and protect these sensitive ecological features. For example, planting trees and shrubs along streams helps stabilize the banks, reducing erosion to natural levels. Naturalized stream buffers help filter pollutants of adjacent lands, like fertilizer, sediment, and bacteria. They provide habitat for birds, pollinators, fish and other wildlife.  They also help shade and keep the stream cool enough to support fish, like trout. Cool water holds more oxygen. And like us, fish and other aquatic organisms, rather like to the breathe!”
This spring, the NVCA will plant over 100,000 trees through the professional planting program, and the Healthy Waters Program, to help keep rivers healthy from brook to bay.
These projects are only possible because our farmers and landowners are interested in planting trees.
Landowners interested in planting trees are encouraged to get in touch. For plantings on two acres or more, contact forester Rick Grillmayer at rgrillmayer@nvca.on.ca. For streamside and wetland plantings (100+ trees), contact Stephens at sstephens@nvca.on.ca.
Volunteers and volunteer groups interested in getting involved, can contact Stepehens to get on the NVCA volunteer list for future ecosystem restoration events.

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