Naturalizing Fort Erie's Creek Drains (2012 to 2015)
The Niagara Restoration Council is proud to announce the approval of funding for a new project in Fort Erie. "Naturalizing Fort Erie's Creek Drains" is a project that will focus on restoring habitat by creating wildlife corridors, enhancing core forest habitat, building vegetated buffers, and initiating garbage clean-ups along Fort Erie's creeks.
The NRC, with its partners, will do this through the planting of over 50,000 trees and shrubs, in addition to thousands of wildflowers, along disturbed areas of Miller Creek, Six Mile Creek, and Beaver Creek in order to increase biodiversity and establish sustainable wildlife habitat.
Up until now, these creeks have been off limits to wildlife restoration as they were partially maintained as municipal drains. While these are natural creeks that support critical fish habitat and wildlife species, sections have been historically modified for draining surrounding lands for agriculture. With the Town of Fort Erie as a partner, town staff has agreed that these creek drains can provide excellent wildlife habitat while still maintaining their functional value. As a result, this project will restore municipally and privately owned parcels of land along these creeks, which will increase and create linkages to core wildlife habitat throughout Fort Erie.
The in-kind support for this project is a vital part of this project. Many partners have come together in order to lend a hand towards the various project components that are a part of this new initiative. The project partners include the Town of Fort Erie, the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, Niagara College, Niagara Environmental Corps, Peninsula Field Naturalists and many more. This project will be successful due to the hard work from the many volunteers who continue to show an active interest in bettering our environment.
This project is being undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Federal Department of the Environment.
Update: Building a green future
Courtesy Cathy McCabe
It all began with a birch tree.
Frank Raso, of Fort Erie, who owns a 24-acre property, was interested in doing reforesting. He began researching native tree species for what was once farmland. Raso said, “I was trying to get a Carolinian forest re-established and if you’re going to do that, you might as well find the rarer trees.”
Raso said he was researching the rare black birch tree, also known as cherry birch, when “I was going for a walk along the parkway and I saw what I thought was a black birch.” He contacted the Niagara Parks Commission and spoke to Corey Burant who informed Raso that the tree was a yellow birch. Through his correspondence with Burant, Raso was introduced to Barry Porter, the project manager for the Niagara Restoration Council (NRC).
Porter did a site visit and offered to supply trees to Raso as part of the NRC’s Naturalizing Fort Erie’s Creek Drains Project. This project involved restoring the land around Miller Creek, Six Mile Creek and Beaver Creek. Raso’s land is considered part of the Miller Creek watershed.
In November, a group of NRC volunteers spent a day at the property planting 239 native trees including black birch and Kentucky coffee trees. Raso said, “I thought, well, if you have some trees, I’d be grateful, drop them off and we’re figure out how to get them planted. The next thing I know, he’s offering me 239 trees and a crew to plant them.” Raso said he doesn’t understand why landowners wouldn’t want help from the NRC. “They’ll provide you with the trees and then they’ll plant them. You can’t lose.”
Raso said, “It started out with my quest for the cherry birch and if they survive, I think I’ll have the most cherry birch in the entire country.” He said, where they are native in Port Dalhousie, there are only about 20 left. He said he believes his interest in native trees began with a friend from high school who had gone into forestry. Raso said his friend was involved with the Niagara Parks School of Horticulture and he ended up giving Raso a Kentucky coffee tree. Raso said when he was moving the tree from his father’s house, to his own, he noticed something. “It turns out that it propagates through root propagation, so I not only have one tree, I have eight of them.”