Trees partial antidote to COVID-19 downer

Around the Nation

by Tom Van Dusen

There’s something about Cursed Covid that has many folks looking to Mother Nature for solace. It’s probably the accurate notion that C-19 isn’t likely to get you in the Great Outdoors, that you can hide from the pandemic as you wrap your arms around a tree and ruffle its bark.

Not only are increasing numbers of Eastern Ontario residents seeking refuge in forest conservation areas, but there’s a growing scramble to bring trees closer to home… as South Nation Conservation’s Communications Committee discovered during an online meeting earlier this week.

Before I go on, I have to admit to a bias: I have been a member of that committee for many years and I too love trees. I actually hug them when nobody is looking and I’m working up to letting the whole world know by doing it in public.

Taking it further, I see myself as an environmentalist who appreciates the work SNC does within its 4,300-km jurisdiction, including reforestation, water quality and quantity monitoring, fisheries and wildlife habitat improvement, and education. So I’m biased as all get-out! Now you know and can react accordingly.

Among its duties, the Communications Committee oversees the Community Environmental Grants Program which allocates up to $300 to worthy projects from an annual limited pot of money. The idea is to encourage public involvement in enhancing and publicizing the South Nation River and its shoreline.

Recently, the committee approved amendments to the program allowing applications for tree and shrub planting as well as community garden development in response the C-19 event cancellation, to give folks something to with their sudden spare time.

Wow! Did that open the floodgates! We received 28 applications, much more in one round than ever before, some from municipalities with multiple requests to plant trees in various villages, others from community beautification groups. It was more than we could handle on the remaining 2020 budget… so we had to cut some out, leading to a long, thoughtful debate among members about how to best use the funds and spread the benefits around the jurisdiction.

After what seemed like two hours, we settled on most of the projects, coming in under our spending limit and actually keeping back one potential grant for a worthy late applicant. Otherwise, program funding is fully allocated.

Only one application had nothing to do with trees. The Chesterville Historical Society got $300 towards publication of a new history book filling in from 1987 to the present. The Chesterville Green Gang got $300 to help purchase mature trees to fill in at the arena, and the Chesterville and District Agricultural Society got a grant towards a ‘’learning path’’ featuring a variety of tree species.

The Russell & District Horticultural Society will benefit from $300 to plant a native caliper tree at the Russell Sports Dome, while Russell Township will get an equal sum to help with construction of a community garden. Roxborough Agricultural Society was awarded $300 towards planting mature trees at its Avonmore Fairgrounds, and Boises Est will receive a grant to help maintain the nut arboretum at Alfred College.

North Dundas will use its $300 to plant three sugar maples at Harmony Park, Winchester, while South Dundas will plant shrubs in a bioswale at Morrisburg Beach to help prevent erosion.  Osgoode Township Museum will purchase crab apple trees to replace ones that died, and Greely Community Association will plant trees along the pathway running west of the community centre.

Augusta Township will get $300 to install a windbreak alongside the Maynard Recreation Centre and Edwardsburg-Cardinal will replace three deceased trees at Legion Park, Cardinal… and on it went, with several other communities in Clarence-Rockland and Alfred-Plantagenet to also benefit from new trees.

As gruelling as it was narrowing down the list, it was gratifying to help distribute so many trees for so many projects. Give them all a hug!

 

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