A recent nature-based restoration project to protect the long-term health of the Muskrat Lake was led by the Muskrat Watershed Council, Watersheds Canada, and community volunteers. Over 12,500 native trees and shrubs were planted, restoring over 12 acres of shoreline habitat adjacent to agricultural and residential lands.
“The Natural Edge Program has been actively working with property owners across Renfrew County for several years now. The recent addition of 12,500 native trees and shrubs will only add to the important community-led effort to protect the health of Muskrat Lake and the watershed as a whole”, says Chloe Lajoie, Natural Edge Program Manager at Watersheds Canada. “We are thankful to have worked with the Muskrat Watershed Council and amazing community volunteers and tree planters to make this largescale planting a success, and for the financial support from Coors Seltzer as part of the Change the Course initiative.”
Over the past several decades, Muskrat Lake and other areas of the watershed have seen a serious and significant decline in water quality, most specifically related to nutrient loading. Nutrient loading involves an increase in the amount of nutrients like nitrates and phosphates entering a water body.
Nutrient loading has a significant impact on water quality and aquatic ecosystem health, especially when it occurs annually, and can lead to an increase in the frequency and severity of algal blooms. The presence of blue-green algae has been confirmed in Muskrat Lake in three of the past six years. Water quality studies in the area show that much of the poor water quality is linked to a lack of riparian (shoreland) vegetation along tributaries and waterways.
To protect water quality health, many native species were used in this restoration project, including Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus stolonifera), Smooth Arrowwood (Viburnum recognitum), and Pussy Willow (Salix discolor). These native plants were used because they have deep root structures which will reduce soil erosion from overland runoff during heavy rain events. The plant roots will also slow runoff and allow for increased water infiltration which will reduce nutrient loading into Muskrat River.
“Muskrat Watershed Council appreciates the wonderful funders of these projects, as well as the partners and volunteers who help us in our efforts to protect our watershed now and in the future – you help us make a difference”, says Karen Coulas, Chair of the Muskrat Watershed Council.
The Natural Edge Program works directly with agricultural and shoreline property owners and community groups to restore areas using native plants and the Natural Edge iOS App that creates a customized planting plan for each property. Plants are chosen by the landowner based on their personal preferences and the site conditions found on their property. Planting native species of trees, shrubs, and wildflowers is an important nature-based solution to restore terrestrial and aquatic areas that are seeing increased impacts due to climate change.
About Watersheds Canada
Watersheds Canada is a national charity that works with landowners, communities, students, municipalities, and organizations to enhance and protect lakes and rivers through developing effective and transferable long-term solutions. Watersheds Canada envisions people caring for their waters, resulting in clean, healthy lakes and rivers to support humans and wildlife for years to come. Learn more at Watersheds.ca
About Muskrat Watershed Council
The Muskrat Watershed Council is a volunteer, community-based, not-for-profit organization whose main goal is to improve water quality for their local communities by using scientific and local-based knowledge. They seek to engage and empower people and communities in identifying and reducing nutrient loading from all sources within the Muskrat Watershed. Learn more at MuskratWatershedCouncil.com
About Change the Course
Change the Course, a program of the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, is a first-of-its-kind initiative that brings together the public, corporations and on-the-ground conservation organizations to raise awareness about freshwater issues, reduce water footprints and directly support water restoration projects. Change the Course has received contributions from over 90 corporate sponsors; supported over 325 water projects across North America and South America, and Europe; and restored over 45.6 billion gallons of water to date. Learn more at changethecourse.us
Natural Edge Program Manager