Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Update on Guelph's Pollinator Park (decommissioned Eastview Landfill site)

I first blogged about this Pollinator Park project in 2012!  Glad to see that it continues to expand!

From the website (Pollination Guelph Planting Sites):

(The) pollinator habitat (is) on the 45ha (112 acre) decommissioned Eastview Landfill site. (It) will be one of the first and largest pollinator initiatives to occur in Ontario, Canada, and internationally. It will also highlight the City of Guelph's commitment to being a leader in environmental initiatives.

The Pollinator Park is a long-term, multi-stage project. Work began in the fall of 2012 and the first hectare was seeded in Fall 2013. We plan to seed another two hectares in Fall 2014 and if we can raise the funds, add two hectares a year in future years.

A bee hotel was added in June 2014 through the "Wild for Bees" initiative, which Pollination Guelph was a site partner in. This initiative is sponsored by Burt's Bees, Sustainable.TO, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, and Pollinator Partnership Canada.

The park borders Speedvale Ave, Watson Road, Eastview Rd

From Guelph Mercury article (written by Chris Seto):

(The) project had to use the herbicide Roundup to get rid of the fescue grass, a species planted to help prevent soil erosion on the mound.

The Eastview Landfill was decommissioned in 2003 after collecting the city's garbage since 1961. For the past 10 years it sat empty, gathering various weeds and invasive plant species. Some flowering species grew out of its clay, rocky soil, but the field hasn't been much of a hot spot for wildlife.

Since 2009, Pollination Guelph has had its eye on this open space as a potential haven for bees, butterflies, birds and native plant species, but it needed to raise enough funds to be able to act on its plan. This year, the charitable organization reached its goal of raising $15,000 – the amount it cost to prep and seed one hectare of land – and was able to sow the seeds of a variety of native species.

These species include coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, milkweeds, Indian grass and several others. The first flowers are expected to appear in the fall, with the majority of the bloom occurring in 2015.

The site will have to be monitored and mowed every couple of years to ensure it isn't overrun by invasive species.  (Burning isn't an option above the methane gas producing landfill.)

Elaine Williams, executive director of Wildlife Preservation Canada, said her organization joined up with Pollination Guelph earlier this year. She hopes the pollination park will become a healthy sanctuary for various species at risk, including the meadowlark and the bobolink bird. She said once the park is more established, it may even be a good place to reintroduce the endangered rusty patch bumblebee.

P.S. Check out my latest "urban wild" nature blog: Wild. Here. (2016 update)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Time to Frog Proof your Yard this Spring (swimming pools and window wells)

From an old 2009 Ottawa Citizen Article worth repeating:
The lives of tens of thousands of frogs, toads and salamanders could be saved each year if homeowners made a few simple changes to their homes and yards, says an Ottawa biologist.  Dan Brunton said backyard swimming pools are particularly deadly, and he has found up to 10 dead amphibians in the filter of his neighbour's pool before.  "The simple thing was they just couldn't get out," Brunton said.  "There's a wonderful commercial opportunity in here. Somebody make a nice little floaty ramp. You just leave it there and the critters climb out of your pool every morning."  A green frog trapped in the filter earlier this week was luckier than most — it was still alive when Brunton visited the pool to demonstrate the problem to a CBC reporter this week. 
While Brunton was renovating his home recently, he discovered another problem for amphibians — window wells. "The day these were put in two toads were found dead the following morning," he said, pointing at his own below-grade basement windows.  Brunton has now built gravel slopes in the wells so toads and other critters can climb out — something he encourages other homeowners to do.  "Since we've put this simple, simple little ramp in there, not one more animal has died in this thing." 
Fraser Veitch, a spokesperson for Benson Pools, a company that sells pool equipment and services, said it's fairly common for frogs to get trapped in pools, but people aren't always sure what to do when it happens.

Someone has now created that device to rescue frogs (and other animals including mice) from pools called the Frog Log. Here is a You Tube video showing the product in action: Frog Log (U.S. Company)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Sustainable Option for Garden Path

Brilliant sustainable landscaping idea by local company Moneca Kaiser Design Build.

An outdoor mosaic pathway using off-cuts from a local granite company.  Close-up below.

All photos by MKDB.