Monday, November 29, 2010

Marsh Creek EcoChallenge (Saint John)

Interesting project to get the community engaged about a local restoration project:

As a part of the most ambitious sustainable development proposal in Atlantic Canada's history - the Marsh Creek Restoration Initiative - Atlantic Coastal Action Program - Saint John is proposing to hold the inaugural Marsh Creek EcoChallenge in Saint John, New Brunswick.

The Marsh Creek Restoration Initiative [MCRI] is much more than a restoration project, it is a strategically-timed sustainability initiative that seeks to set an example for the rest of the country of how a once-degraded and embarrassing ecosystem can be turned into a ground-breaking example of how an urban environment can be integrated with natural systems, rather than just being built on top them. It is for these reasons that the MCRI is beginning to gain international attention from renowned environmentalists such as Alexandra Cousteau, as they look to Saint John to see how a prototypical industrial city attempts to re-invent its most abused ecosystem as not only a safe place for fish and wildlife, but as a catalyst for a new model of urban living and growth (for more information, visit

The proposed Marsh Creek EcoChallenge will continue to follow the MCRI's roadmap of sustainability by directly involving the community on environmental, social and economic levels. The Marsh Creek EcoChallenge will involve two key components:

First, a comprehensive BioBlitz of the Marsh Creek watershed, involving researchers and scientists from organizations such as the University of New Brunswick, the New Brunswick Museum and the Saint John Naturalists Club. Researchers will assess habitat, document species of fish, wildlife and birds, as well as geological features for the Stonehammer UNESCO Geopark, all while social scientists study the community's use of water features, document historical sites and evaluate the socio-economic health of urban neighbourhoods in the area.

Secondly, to help promote community wellness and bring people closer to the amazing natural areas of Marsh Creek, a full scale adventure challenge will take place across the watershed, involving paddling, running, geocaching and cycling through some of Canada's finest urban green areas. This portion of the Marsh Creek EcoChallenge will engage a greater audience into watershed issues while promoting the tourist potential of a restored urban watercourse and active transportation alternatives, all while providing a fun, engaging opportunity to meet new people and learn about nature.

When all is said and done, the Marsh Creek EcoChallenge will have gathered countless pages of invaluable scientific data on this historically degraded and abused watershed, while simultaneously showcasing its potential to local, national and international participants in a unique outdoor adventure racing event, both of which will be unparalleled in eastern Canada. In just a few short days, the Marsh Creek EcoChallenge will have brought the focus of the region onto the untapped natural beauty and geographic diversity of Marsh Creek and will truly showcase the ability of the Marsh Creek Restoration Initiative to transform the worst of Saint John's image into an economic driver for not just the city, but for New Brunswick as a whole.

(Info from the Aviva Community Fund website)

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