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Milestone in Twelve Mile Creek preservation

Workers lay coir matting as part of an effort to combat erosion. SUPPLIED PHOTO

BY VOICE STAFF

The Niagara Chapter of Trout Unlimited Canada and its partners have completed work on two sections of Twelve Mile Creek in Short Hills Provincial Park. According to a media statement released in late November, the projects are designed to alleviate the effects of heavy erosion that sweeps sediment into the creek, causing it to become shallower, warmer, and poor habitat for aquatic animals.

One of the projects created “wing deflectors”: log obstructions that protrude halfway across the stream, creating meanders that narrow and deepen the channel. The team used dead Ash trees to create the deflectors, and then filled in the “V” created by the logs with last year’s Christmas trees, rocks, soil, and smaller logs, which will catch sediment and eventually create a natural sand bar.

The other project was designed to stabilize a large clay “cliff,” which over the years has eroded from the bank of the stream, depositing huge amounts of sediment into the creek and altering its course. Bundles of live branches were embedded into the face of the cliff to create a root system that will help prevent further erosion. These bundles, called “fascines,” were placed into hand-dug trenches on the cliff face and pinned into place with live stakes. Then native grass species were seeded across the entire clay bank, and finally coir matting (coconut fiber) was unrolled over the clay to help hold the seed and fascines in place and give them a chance to take root before being washed away. This coir mat will degrade over time.

With $159,400 in funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and $94,700 from the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnership Program, the two projects were a combined effort by the Niagara Restoration Council and the Niagara Chapter of Trout Unlimited Canada (TUC), with the co-operation and assistance of Parks Ontario.

The Niagara Chapter of TUC has been working for almost eight years on projects to improve and preserve Twelve Mile Creek, which is the last remaining year-round cold water stream in Niagara. While it is still capable of sustaining trout, the creek is threatened by development in the headwaters that creates flooding events, by deforestation, and by other human interference, such as creating online ponds that warm the water, cutting shade trees and shrubs at the water’s edge, and depositing sand and salt from road clearing. TUC is working with landowners and the municipal government of Pelham to make improvements that will help to preserve this cold water aquatic system into the future.

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