The calm waters of the Maskinonge River welcomed a group of 40 paddlers Sept. 10 as part of the annual “Up the Maskinonge with a Paddle” event.
The event, hosted by the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA) and Maskinonge River Recovery Project (MRRP) volunteer committee, celebrated completed restoration projects and the improved health of the river.
“A few years ago there was so much duckweed in the river that you could hardly paddle through it,” explained Mei Lan Shepherd, who participated in the event as part of the Georgina Dragon Boat Club. “It’s obvious to us that restoration work is making a big difference in the health of the river.”
Paddlers hit the water in a dragon boat, canoes and kayaks to tour restoration projects along the shoreline. Along the way, participants were awed by multiple sightings of the great blue heron and a quick peek at the elusive black-crowned night heron.
“By working with residents to complete simple projects like planting healthy river buffers, we’re slowly restoring the health of the river and improving wildlife habitat. We’re starting to see animals like river otters playing along riverbanks, and mottled sculpin, a fish species that indicates river health, reappear. That’s worth celebrating,” said Brittany Ballagh, LSRCA stewardship technician.
Residents interested in restoring and protecting the Maskinonge River may qualify for funding grants through LSRCA.
Funding is available until March 31, 2017, for projects including planting native buffers, planting trees and shrubs, and enhancing wildlife habitat.
MRRP is a community-led initiative aimed at improving the water quality and wildlife habitat in the Maskinonge River subwatershed, in partnership with local landowners. Funded by Environment Canada, restoration efforts hope to lessen damage caused by excess nutrients, low water flow, and lack of natural cover and vegetation.
In the photo: Lorrie Mackness, chair of the Maskinonge River Recovery Project committee, hit the water with Gudrun and Grace to paddle down the river to celebrate improved river health and enhanced wildlife habitat.
Article and photo courtesy of the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority.