Last year was good one for the Mill Creek Stewardship Rangers.
They continued their enthusiastic rehabilitation and educational work on Mill Creek, a spring-fed cold-water stream which originates in the uplands and woodlands/wetlands of Puslinch Township and flows through the township and the City of Cambridge, where it joins the Grand River.
The 2014 crew consisted of four high school students (Peter Silk, Sean Wyse, Aisha Hufnagel and Ally Penwarden) and a crew leader (University of Guelph student – Adam Riggi), who worked through July and August under the supervision of Robert Messier and Crystal Allan of the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA).
As in previous years, the Rangers` activities included habitat improvement and rehabilitation work, as well as training and educational experiences.
The stream work, which was conducted on several sites along Mill Creek, included: removing woody debris and using it to direct the stream to a more natural channel; moving rocks to divert the current to an existing deflector; clearing obstructions and adding gravel to a tributary steam to improve trout spawning and nursery habitat; and taking part in the annual Mill Creek Clean up at Soper Park in Cambridge.
Off-stream work included helping the GRCA at Shades Mills Conservation Area with trail mulching and a goose roundup and relocation.
The Ranger’s training and educational program included a stream rehabilitation lecture by Jack Imhof, of Trout Unlimited, which was conducted in the stream with Jack and the Rangers in their chest waders….true “immersion education.”
The Rangers received safety and electro-fishing training, and had tours of the University of Guelph’s Hagen Aqua Lab, Wellington County’s Green Legacy Nursery, and the Nestle Water Plant. In turn the Rangers were able to able to apply their knowledge and experience to help young campers collect and identify critters from the stream and surrounding grassland at Shades Mills during the Alison and Fiddlesticks Neighbourhood Associations` Junior Camper Day.
The Rangers also assisted Peter Pautler with a fishing camp at Shades Mills, where a group of YWCA campers learned the basics of fishing and to identify the fish they caught.
The Mill Creek Student Rangers Program is supported by the Friends of Mill Creek, a volunteer, community-based organization dedicated to maintaining and enhancing the Mill Creek watershed.
The Ranger program is funded through generous donations from local community members, businesses and organizations.
The Friends of Mill Creek acknowledges and thanks our partners who contribute their time, money, expertise and equipment to help us achieve our goals.
Although Mill Creek is now under ice, planning for next year is already underway.
The Friends are open to anyone who can spare a few hours, shares our passion for protecting this precious resource for future generations and believes in helping to develop the next generation of conservationists.
The group meets at the Puslinch community centre at 3:30pm on the third Wednesday of every month.
For more information on the Friends of Mill Creek, visit the website http://www.friendsofmillcreek.org/.