Raisin Region Conservation Authority (RRCA) board members and staff were recently joined by Township of South Stormont Council members and staff, as well as members of the Ontario Provincial Police and the general public in planting nearly 300 native tree and shrub species on the grounds of the Township’s municipal office, which border the south branch of the Raisin River.
“When it comes to improving our local environment, every effort counts” says South Stormont Mayor and RRCA Chair, Bryan McGillis. “I’m very pleased to see yet another successful partnership between the Township of South Stormont and the Raisin Region Conservation Authority.”
The Township is working towards creating a recreational path alongside the newly planted trees, most of which are edible species such as black chokecherry, wild plum, and beaked hazel, to name a few. A variety of heritage apple species, as well as American paw paw, will be added at a later date.
“What a great way to learn about, and also taste, some of the native edible plants in our region,” says South Stormont Deputy Mayor and RRCA Board Member, David Smith. “I’m excited to see the continuing evolution of this site as these trees mature and grow.”
The community planting event was part of a larger riparian enhancement project by the RRCA, which is adding close to 13,000 trees this fall to lands bordering watercourses in its watershed jurisdiction. The project received $50,000 in funding support from the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks’ Great Lakes Local Action Fund.
“I think this is a great program,” says Jim McDonell, MPP for Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry. “We’ve come a long way. A hundred years ago, tree cover in the region was down to 2 or 3 percent. Now it’s close to 30 percent.”
The RRCA’s tree planting efforts began in 1994. Last year, the local Conservation Authority planted its one millionth tree, with an additional 60,000 trees being added this year alone.
“It is thanks to partnerships, especially private landowner and municipal partnerships such as this one, that we have been able to achieve such a milestone,” says RRCA General Manager, Richard Pilon.
For landowners in the RRCA’s watershed jurisdiction who are looking to add trees to their own properties, the RRCA offers an over-the-counter tree seedling sale program, as well as full-service tree planting for orders over 500 trees.
The community tree planting event was safely held with COVID-19 precautionary measures in place, in line with public health advice.