Thu. Feb 29th, 2024

Today’s post comes from Sheila Wiebe, Marketing and Development Specialist at Bronte Creek Provincial Park.

I recently celebrated the midpoint of my life. The milestone of 50 years on this Earth, half a century.

As I usually do around my birthday, I reflected on the past year: the accomplishments, the challenges, and everything in between.

I felt like I needed to do something to commemorate the occasion.

The challenge

Sheila and her daughter complete the 50km canoe trip.

As the date approached, I decided to have fun with the approaching “doomsday.” Turning the frown upside down, so to speak. I developed a series of daily challenges for the 50 days leading up to my actual due date.

I completed tasks like donating 50 things to charity, trying a new recipe, visiting a new place, paddling 50km on a canoe trip through the countryside, and finally planting 50 trees. These trees and their history is what I would like to share with you.

The reason

Image showing the damage caused by these invasive species.  Several fallen trees and stands with their tops torn off.

The forests here in Bronte Creek Provincial Park have gone through considerable changes in the last 7 years. First, it was the gypsy moth that defoliated the host trees, followed by the emerald ash borer that ate them, and then the beech blight that sucked out all the sap.

As a public park, these damaged trees posed a safety hazard and those adjacent to campsites, trails and picnic shelters needed to be removed.

Along with other chainsaw-certified park staff, I worked to cut down these dangerous trees. The Trillium, Maiden’s Blush, and Halfmoon Valley trails looked like one big set of sticks when we were done.

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Photo showing the forest floor slowly returning after recent tree felling.

Under our vegetation management plan, fallen wood is left in the area where it falls to decompose and add its nutrients back to the soil and provide food and habitat for wildlife.

To many visitors, these places now seem horrible. However, over time, seedlings trying to grow under these fallen trees can now enjoy the much-needed sunlight to grow.

If you have visited the trails recently, you will see how after a few years the young trees grow between the trunks, where it is harder for deer and rabbits to reach them.

The opportunity

As it happens, around this time, our park managers saw an opportunity they couldn’t pass up. They found and organized the delivery of 400 seed kits to the park.

Image showing the small trees growing in their crowns.

The maintenance department offered to install and care for 350 white pine seedlings. You guessed it, I took care of the other 50 myself.

Now, if you have ever planted these seed kits, you know that there is usually more than one seed per package. We wanted to make the most of this opportunity. We had opened each one and planted one seed per container, using small cups instead of the peat pots in the kits for the extra seeds. In the end we created approximately between 600 and 700 little cups of possibilities.

Sheila, staff and volunteers pose in front of newly planted trees.How long do you think it took to transplant 500 trees?

We care for these “seed cups” over the winter and recently transplanted about 500 3-inch tall white pine trees and moved them outdoors. We still plan to take care of them a little more. This will give them a good head start to perhaps become the forest of tomorrow.

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I can now look back on the year of my 50th birthday and know that my 50-day challenge helped make the world a little greener.

my challenge to you

Can you complete the following 5 actions before your next big birthday?

  • Volunteer for an event or project.
  • Become a “Friends of” member.
  • Donate to projects to help improve Ontario parks.
  • Introduce a friend to the wonders of the parks!
  • Participate in cleaning the park.