Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Friends of Rosebough Creek (Greensville): Creating Paradise in Their Neck of the Woods.

Guest post by Greensville resident Nancy Henley, Chef, teacher and food writer at Tree House Kitchen. Nancy has formed a small group called Friends of Rosebough Creek with her two neighbours, Lorraine Moir, a specialist in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and founding Board Member for Trees For Hamilton, and Neal Bonnor, an environmental data analyst and Provincial Officer with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change and founding member of Stewards of Cootes Watershed.

Picture playing with a little paper sail boat and setting it down in Rosebough Creek near a park in Greensville. Follow it in your mind’s eye as it meanders under and over farms and neighbour’s backyards...pooling into stormwater management wetlands and under roads and into the rare eco-zone of Carolinian forests...past some of the most biologically diverse natural areas in the whole world...joining waterfalls of the internationally recognized Niagara Escarpment and coursing down streams…coursing though provincially significant Cootes Paradise wetlands and around places of commerce and industry...ending up in Hamilton Harbour--the bay at the western tip of Lake Ontario of the greatest lakes in the world. What a journey!

Like dowsing rods to groundwater - we are a small group of 3 Dundas (Greensville) neighbours bent on raising awareness in our little area about the importance of stewarding the magical life-sustaining flow of water and fostering its ecological health.

Our mission is to thread environmental education through active outdoor play, knowing that through increasing connectivity with nature, play and exercise, comes long-ranging, long-term health benefits and respect for ourselves and our local and wider ecosystem and ultimately the globe.

Recently, we adopted Rosebough Park in Greensville (through the Adopt a Park program at City of Hamilton) to engage neighbours and motivate others to be watershed stewards or adopt a park in their neighbourhoods.

That small creek described above winds along the side of the park - being part of the greater mid-Spencer Creek Watershed. Baseline stream health assessment studies have been very positive indicating that our little tributary is considered “pristine” with a healthy diversity of organisms in the sediment/benthic zone of the stream, a good cool temperature supporting wild watercress and lacking invasive species to date. Good news!!

We have hand delivered comprehensive, informative flyers and newsletters to neighbours since 2011 about maintaining stream health and posted signage around the neighbourhood and almost no one is calling us. We have hosted nature walks, talks and outdoor educational adventures to find many species including algae, amphibians, birds, fishes, invertebrates, aquatic plants and terrestrial plants with sadly very low attendance. Bad news!

Community Support

Stream of Dreams community painted fish
City of Hamilton has earmarked some funds for freshening our children’s play equipment which is wonderful. Community art projects will further engagement and we are happy to have Bay Area Restoration Council donate carved wooden fish for a community hand-painting session courtesy of Stream of Dreams - helping to teach kids that “all drains lead to fish habitat.” We plan to have a mural painting and interactive blackboard posted as well and are presently making speeches and stomping the ground for financial support.

Planting Native Plant Habitat.

Fall tree plant 50 trees and shrubs courtesy of Trees for Hamilton.
Recent actions at the park include planting Prairie and ‎Tall Grass Prairie & Savanna - Carolinian Species & Habitats Carolinian plants, shade trees and shrubs that will thrive in the area with the help of the City of Hamilton Forestry Department Trees Hamilton and Trees for Hamilton. Great advice has been received from Hamilton Conservation Authority.

We have created no-mow areas to encourage wildlife and habitat “corridors” for marsh plants, travelling animals and pollinators to range and thrive in the neighbourhood. Around these corridors we have dreams/plans to add masses of edible berries, herbs, flowers and other plants that will be nice for people and pollinators to eat!

We have already strewn local wildflower seeds - thanks to the Pollinators Paradise Project and look forward to the results. Longer term plans include phasing in outdoor fitness equipment and hosting Tai Chi in the park - watch for it you must come and tell your neighbours!!

Lately we have been feeling full of hope as we marched with 25,000 people in Ottawa taking action for limiting global warming and 100% possible climate change.

Good luck to all friends of the environment from Friends of Rosebough Creek! 

Incidentally, our colleagues at Stewards of Cootes watershed to date have pulled over 175,000 lbs of garbage out of these neighbouring waterways. The Greater Hamilton Watershed includes a huge 479 square kilometres of watershed area - made up of land-based and water-based areas. This is an example of the fruitful work being done in our backyards but illustrates a larger and confounding disconnection to nature.