Return of spring weather prompts return of green events

Snow, ice and water put a damper on the Earth Day activities planned over the April 20 weekend, but the Woolwich girls U14 soccer team was one of several groups to come out this weekend for a clean-up.

It’s starting to feel a lot like spring in the townships, finally. For those looking to celebrate the blossoming season in earnest, there is perhaps no finer way than to dig your hands into the soil and plant a tree. Across Woolwich, a number of tree planting events have been planned, and because the season came late, they’re all springing up quickly.

The Trees for Woolwich group has organized a number of plantings for the month of May throughout the township, and anyone can join in.

“The weather’s getting better, and we have several new ones coming up,” said Inga Rinne, chair of Trees for Woolwich.

The first was last Saturday’s annual “church challenge,” where the local congregations challenge one another in a friendly competition of tree planting. A spell of cold weather may have been responsible for a lower than average turnout, but in the end the job got done.

“We got 200 trees planted alongside the Kissing Bridge Trail. So all things considered that went pretty well,” said Rinne. The standouts of this year’s challenge were St. Theresa’s, says Rinne, while newcomers included the likes of the BridgeKeepers group from West Montrose.

“We got the job done with enormous thanks to Grant Bauman, a farmer whose land is close-by to where we were who came out and augured most of the holes and brought watering equipment to get all the trees watered,” added Rinne. Bauman, for the past two years, has also helped keep the snow fence spry by watering the trees in the area.

A second planting was organized yesterday with help from Waterloo Region students. Students spent the morning infilling sections of the living snow fence, north of St. Jacobs, that lines Arthur St.

“Next Saturday on the 5th, we have a big tree plant happening along the Hopewell Creek down of Spitzig Road,” added Rinne. “Then on the 8th, we have the Enviro-Stewards who has for the last two years, they shut down their office for half a day, and their staff comes out to plant. So they will also be planting down by Spitzig Road.”

On the same day, May  8, another group of volunteers will be congregating for a planting alongside Durant Road, between the villages of Bloomingdale and Maryhill. Another group of students will also be out that week at the Trees for Woolwich nursery to help prepare the site for its new tenants. The trees grown at the nursery eventually become part of the plantings when they become sturdy enough.

The Clean Water Ways Group also has its main event planned in Woolwich May 8 and 9, after it was delayed from earlier in April. The original event had to be postponed after a beaver took up residence along the river and caused all kinds of havoc by building a dam and flooding the site. Clean Water Ways held off on the planting while they decided what to do, but, fortunately, the little critter seems to have moved on for another location, clearing the way once again for the plant.

Trees for Woolwich were out with volunteers from Waterloo to work on the Arthur Street living snow fence.

Like Trees for Woolwich, Clean Water Ways organizes tree plantings in the township, though with a focus on planting on private properties along natural waterways. The goal of the group is to protect riverbanks from erosion and runoff, as well as keep cattle and livestock out of the water and improve the water quality.

“It’s a way that people can give back to the environment,” said the group’s Art Timmerman. The equipment is all provided and the event is open to everyone, and there will be a group there to supervise and help participants and the event. In total, the group hopes to plant 300 trees and shrubs, from maples to cedar trees.

“Planting trees is always a good thing, it has many benefits. This is just one of many opportunities out there to plant trees and improve water quality in the region,” he added.

It’s a good thing not just for the environment, though, but for the individuals doing the planting too.

“I have to say, it’s tremendously satisfying. I mean, it’s a very concrete thing that you do,” said Rinne. “The physical work is not that hard, but to see the end result and not only the end result at the end of a couple of hours. But you can go past that site every year and look at the progress.”

Wait a few years, and you could someday be taking your kids, or your grandkids, for a walk under the very trees you once planted.

Those hoping to get involved in any of the tree plantings being run by Trees for Woolwich or Clean Water Ways are encouraged to reach out to Ann Roberts at Woolwich Township by calling 519-669-1647, ext. 7027.

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