Above: NAIT Instructor & Senior Faculty Researcher- Biological Sciences Debbie Webb speaking to the MCHS students about the riparian buffer and how to handle and plant the more than 250 that are in the trays.
Below left: MCHS students Marina Casavant and Brianna McMow planting a dogwood.
– Lucie Roy Photos
by Morinville News Staff
Morinville Community High School (MCHS) Biology 20 students gathered at Little Egg Creek May 28 to hear a presentation on riparian buffers and to help build one. NAIT brought more than 250 willows, dogwood, rosebushes, cranberry, poplar and currants, some of which were planted by students that day, others to be planted June 10.
Debbie Webb, Instructor and Senior Faculty Researcher and Biological Sciences told students she and colleague Laurie Hunt have been working in the Sturgeon River watershed for the past six years. Initially, their work was getting a basic idea of what was out there, but the past couple years they have been working to restore some of the riparian habitats with the help of a federal grant.
“Riparian is basically that vegetation, that zone of vegetation that likes to be not in aquatic systems but near the water,” Webb said. “If you look throughout the Sturgeon River watershed and Little Egg Creek running through, it is a little tributary to the Sturgeon River and the Sturgeon River then flows into the North Saskatchewan River so it is a part of the big scheme of things”
The riparian buffers in addition to stabilizing river and creek banks from erosion, also provide habitat for small animals and birds that like to live along the stream. The vegetation provides shade for the stream and keeps the water’s cooler.
Webb said the recent planting included 10 spruce trees placed in a pod grouping. Students planted densely around the spruce trees, approximately 12 to 18 inches apart. The trees and shrubs planted are all native to the area.
Town employee Allen Jacobson said the project ties into the Town’s Communities in Bloom and Incredible Edibles initiatives.
There are 5,000 plants NAIT will try and get into the ground in the Sturgeon River watershed by the end of June.