June 16th, 2016
Since my last update, I’ve been busy. I’ve spent a couple days in the field, had several meetings, and made many plans for the near future.
One of my field days I spent exploring McVicar Creek for the first time. Before heading out into the field, I scoped out locations of previous restoration sites, intersections with roads where parking was available, and paths along the stream on Google maps. Camera in one hand, notepad in the other, I set out to explore the mouth of McVicar Creek at Lake Superior’s shoreline. As the location of multiple restoration projects, human effect on the stream was evident just by walking through it. There were minimal buffers before the industrial lots begin, as well as man-made paths and some destruction present.
Down at the lake, you can see the fishermen’s’ paths and attempts at restoration. Much seems to have failed, however; my guess would be due to the lack of topsoil on the riprap. This makes the plant’s root try to dig deeper for stability, but scratches or destroys the roots when the ground shifts in freeze and thaw processes in the spring and fall. Further upstream, there was evidence of littering and pollution. I found a needle (still in packaging, unused), just laying on some rocks not a metre away from the water’s edge. Many of the lawns of properties were mowed right to the stream.
I came upon a site where there was some construction underway, possibly in the process of being restored. Much of the soil was bare, ready to be washed away during the next rain event. There was a road sign that had fallen in the water. I wondered if perhaps it had been thrown in by vandals.
The last part of the stream I visited was at its intersection with the highway. The south side was a nice park with paths. Some small dead seedling tops could be seen sticking out of the tall grass near the stream bank. The north side of the highway had recently had a grass fire, probably a reason why many of the trees planted there had failed throughout the years. The fire was possibly caused by vandalism, or a someone throwing still lit cigarette butts out their car window driving by. The areas farther north of the highway seemed more grown-in and had healthy forest cover. I did not explore the other past restoration site in the County Park area on this day.
The rest of my week and the following week was filled with mostly office work, and one field day at Birch Beach Creek (see Brent’s update on Superior Streams). I had a few meetings with friends of Superior Streams to learn more about restoration projects: how to do them, where to do them, and how to make sure they’re successful. Werner Schwar, Supervisor of Parks & Open Spaces Section at the City of Thunder Bay, discussed with me locations of the city’s restoration projects and LID (low impact development) projects. I will be working with Werner and other City of Thunder Bay employees to help their restoration projects be successful.
This Friday I look forward to attending a workshop on invasive species along the McVicar Creek, specifically the garlic mustard plant. I have a history with garlic mustard from my hometown. It was a passion of one of my teachers, and so we spent several days out along the river picking the weeds. She often then took it home and made a version of pesto out of it. I’ll report more on it in two weeks. Stay tuned folks!