March 3, 2020
Quinte Watershed Benefits from Native Plants Thanks to the Natural Edge Program
Watersheds Canada – Ontario’s shorelines faced high flood levels and erosion rates in 2019, but thirty-seven landowners in the Quinte watershed took local action to protect their property by participating in Watersheds Canada’s Natural Edge Program.
In partnership with Quinte Conservation, this program worked with waterfront property owners to restore their shoreline by planting native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers. Each landowner received a full-service restoration program, which included the creation of a shoreline restoration plan for their property using Watersheds Canada’s self-developed App. Each customized plan provided detailed descriptions of native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers suitable for planting based on their site conditions and preferences. The planting was then carried out by Watersheds Canada staff and local volunteers. In addition, participating landowners were only required to contribute 25% of the total project costs, as the remaining costs were paid for through generous funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
In total, the Quinte watershed saw 1560 metres of shoreline naturalized using 3966 native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers. An additional 6,500 native species will be planted in spring 2020.
“We received a very positive response from the community, receiving more calls from interested landowners wanting to take part in the program than we ever have before. It was a great first year of our project and I look forward to continuing in 2020”, said Chloe Lajoie, Natural Edge Program Manager at Watersheds Canada.
Many landowners enjoyed taking part in the program. “Once you realize the importance of having a natural edge along your shoreline, you can do nothing but want to take action”, said Conrad Biernacki. Conrad owns the Black River Bed and Breakfast in Milford, Ontario and participated in the Natural Edge program in fall 2019. “The Natural Edge Program provided us with the perfect solution all for an extremely affordable cost. The Natural Edge Program is for everyone who lives by the water and cares about the environment.”
By planting, landowners worked to improve water quality as native plants filter excess nutrients and toxins out of water run-off. Vegetated shorelines also stabilize the shore and reduce soil erosion as plant roots hold soil in place, and overhanging brush reduces the impact that waves and boat wakes have on a shoreline. In addition, landowners actively created vital wildlife habitat that is home to over 90% of aquatic wildlife at some point in their lifetime.
“Bringing this fully inclusive program to the Quinte region was a huge step in addressing identified barriers to engaging property owners in shoreline stewardship,” says Maya Navrot, Stewardship Coordinator with Quinte Conservation. “Property owners were guided through the entire process, from the site plan to the physical planting. Both the property owner and the natural ecosystem benefit, from slowing property erosion from wind and wave action, to protecting water quality and re-establishing essential habitat for a wealth of wildlife.”
Photo 1: Volunteers planting at Riverside Park in Belleville.
Not only does the project support planting on residential and agricultural properties, but two demonstration sites were planted on public lands. The sites were at Consecon Mill Dam Conservation Area Pond & Park in Prince Edward County, and at Riverside Park in Belleville. Quinte Conservation, The Corporation of the County of Prince Edward, Friends of Wellers Bay, and the Quinte Field Naturalists supported the project, helping with coordination and planting.
This program was generously funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Daniel and Susan Gottlieb Foundation, and was made possible because of partnerships with Quinte Conservation, local lake associations, and volunteers. A big thank you goes out to all who made this project so successful!
The Natural Edge Program has two more years of funding in the Quinte watershed. To learn more about the Natural Edge program and see if you are eligible for a free site visit, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit https://naturaledge.watersheds.ca