This summer, staff from Ducks Unlimited Canada and Calgary MarshKeeper volunteers planted over 400 seedlings in the marsh at Calgary’s Bow Habitat Station. The seedlings—which included short shrubs like raspberry bushes, tall shrubs like chokecherry and fast-growing trees like balsam and white birch—represent the beginning of an ecobuffer that will provide habitats for birds, insects and the small mammals that complement and build from the nearby wetland and natural forest, as well as block out a development being constructed to the south of the marsh.
“With planting this ecobuffer, [we’re] bringing a little nature back into the park in the middle of the city,” explains Lee Ann Singleton, MarshKeeper program coordinator.
The event, which included an educational seminar from the Agroforestry and Woodlot Extension Society about how the area’s wildlife interacts with the various types of seedlings, was a surefire success. MarshKeeper volunteers have since reported a 90 to 95 per cent success rate with the planting they’ve done.
“All the volunteers were so engaged in doing this, and I know they’ve been going back to the marsh outside of just watering to check the seedlings, because they feel like it’s something they did and they’ve taken personal ownership of it,” says Singleton.
Planting seedlings isn’t the only way Ducks Unlimited Canada and Calgary MarshKeepers are raising awareness about environmental conservation during Canada’s sesquicentennial. In September, they celebrated Duck Days at Frank Lake, which was a free event open to the public and families. The itinerary included educational activities like building birdhouses, nature scavenger hunts, ATV ecotours and bird watching.
“Without these funding programs [like the Community Fund for Canada’s 150] we couldn’t pull off days like that and this education, especially to children, is tremendous—to be able to get them outside and see what they’re preserving for the future is priceless,” says Singleton.