Have I mentioned before that brook trout are my favourite fish? I mean, I love them all, but if I had to choose one single species of fish to interact with for the rest of my days, it would be the beautiful Salvelinus fontinalis. So when I got the chance to help at a Credit Valley Conservation (CVC) tree planting that would improve brook trout habitat along the Credit River, I couldn’t pass it up.
A couple of Saturdays ago, October 22nd to be exact, Darrell and I woke up to snow on the ground and quickly added an extra layer of clothing. It was downright chilly when we climbed into the car and headed for the Upper Credit Conservation Area in Alton, just outside of Orangeville.
The tree planting was a joint effort between CVC and the Greg Clark Chapter of Trout Unlimited Canada. The Greg Clark Chapter has organized a great restoration initiative called Bring Back The Brookies (BBB), aimed at restoring and improving the habitat along the Upper Credit River to once again make it suitable for brook trout. BBB has many great workdays and ways for people to get involved, so be sure to check out their Facebook page for more info.
Those of us early risers there for the setup had the fun of placing out trees in appropriate areas for planting, and trying to avoid getting wet feet. A resident beaver has a dam right at the planting site and the water was encroaching on the paths along the river.
Placing trees and shrubs out for planting involves more thought than some might realize. For this particular event, the goal was to quickly provide shade and bank stability for the river. For that reason, the birch and poplars – quick growing trees tolerant of the wet conditions – were placed closest to the river. Native shrubs that will provide habitat and food for wildlife were placed in ways to create an understory. Other trees were placed strategically, careful to avoid shading them out with the mature trees, and leaving enough space around them to allow them to grow properly. The tree I most closely associate with brookie streams – Eastern White-cedar – was present in abundance for the planting.
After getting the trees placed out, it was time for the rest of the volunteers to arrive, and after a quick safety talk and demonstration from CVC’s Lindsey Jennings, shovels hit the ground.
I love attending any tree planting, but those associated with a river and with restoration work always bring out anglers and are even more fun for me. Whether it’s having a chat about how the fishing has been, hearing stories of the big ones, or listening to talk about future restoration plans, it always reminds me of how glad I am to have found fishing, and how many awesome people are brought together by a love of fish.
With 40 or so volunteers, the 200 trees and shrubs went into the ground in record time. The ground was easy digging, which always helps, but the enthusiasm of the volunteers really makes the difference. Though the temperature didn’t warm up much during the morning, everyone looked plenty warm as they headed back to the CVC truck to unload shovels and take a group picture. Tree plantings have a special way of bringing groups of people together, and most people hung around to chat after the work was done.
As we took a final walk through to make sure no trees had been missed and no tools had been left behind, I once again felt thankful to have spent so much time along the Credit in my life. The smell of the cedars, the babble of the water as we neared the beaver dam, the quiet interrupted only by our own talking, and the thought of maybe one day seeing brook trout spawning in these upper reaches of the river. All are pretty great reasons to get up on a chilly Saturday morning and go plant some trees.