*Editor's note: Every good day should begin with coffee and tasty pastries, and end with feeling like you're saving the world! Enjoy this creative piece about our October 2017 Restoration Event - it's dedicated to our volunteers, partners, and funders.*
Every good field day begins
With coffee, tasty pastries, and grins.
Volunteers dressed warmly in anticipation
Of a day doing backcountry restoration.
Our site this year was Racehorse Creek,
Part of our headwaters that is unique
Due to the presence of Westslope Cutthroat Trout
Whose populations are at risk of dying out.
The willows were harvested two days before,
While dormant, when carbohydrates are stored.
They were trimmed, tied in bundles of twenty-five,
Then kept in water so they’d survive.
On site, they’re unloaded, along with the tools.
Everyone gathers for introductions, instructions, and rules.
Spray Lake Sawmills, Cows and Fish, and OWC
Explain the importance of this work bee.
Shouldering tools, we all begin.
Soon the valley echoes with the din
Of striking sledge hammers that pound
Holes to plant willows into the ground.
Once the hole is dug, the angle quite steep,
The willow’s inserted, a couple feet deep.
Then soil is tightly packed all around
So the roots can spread deep underground.
The tops are trimmed short so they don’t dry out
From transpiration, or in times of drought.
In the spring new twigs will start to grow
And leaves will shelter the creek below.
Roots stabilize streambanks, provide erosion control,
Filter runoff, and mitigate flooding’s toll.
Leaves shade the water, keeping it cold and clean
For cutthroat trout and those downstream.
None of this critical work would be achieved
Without partners and volunteers, who perceived
That everyone has a role to play,
And our funders, who the costs, defray.
We’re building skills and community capacity
With students from the College and University,
Helping to train the next generation
In how to do hands-on riparian restoration.
It takes many hands, working hard
To help restore this land that’s been scarred.
So if a restoration site you one day discover,
Please give it some space and time to recover.
If you, too, believe that watershed health
Contributes to our wellbeing and wealth,
Contact OWC and you can arrange
To Volunteer. Donate. Make a change.
This project was funded by Alberta Environment and Parks Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program, Environment Canada Habitat Stewardship Program, Alberta Conservation Association, and Alberta Ecotrust Foundation. Thank you!