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  • Dave Barnes

Wetland Regeneration – our Signature Project

AFFI’s second anniversary approaches, and we are poised to launch our wetland regeneration project … the construction of a dam to capture the landscape’s annual runoff in a pond/wetland ecosystem.  Ducks Unlimited Canada’s engineering firm from Winnipeg, Native Plant Solutions Inc. (NPS), was on-site last week to do the field portion of its feasibility study, digging eight 3-meter pits to expose soil profiles. And the first looks were very positive … most test pits revealed thick layers of quality clay, a resource that is needed to plug the dam and line the basin so it retains water. Glacial Lake Agassiz and the once huge Assiniboine River deposited rich alluvial sediments here over thousands of years, and undisturbed evolution from prairie through deciduous forest has yielded a permaculture designer’s bonanza … a full metre of beautiful black topsoil with thick layers of quality clay below.

These soils have never been turned, so despite modern civilization’s clear cutting of this forest, the building blocks are still in place to restore magnificent ecosystems here. And step #1 in that process is harvesting runoff, largely the Spring freshet, or snow melt, that runs out onto the Assiniboine ice in early April.  With a dam to stop precipitation loss and a pond/wetland adjacent, the overall ground water level of the parcel will rise, and all of our future tree plantings will have better health as a result. And a thriving pond/wetland is an amazing biological community, hosting frogs, salamanders, snakes, turtles, as well as countless birds, mammals, and insects. This winter, NPS will analyze their data, merge expertise from technical staff, and generate cost estimates for the various possible outcomes of the project. But no matter what, it seems that we won’t have to truck in clay to build the dam and basin liner, steps that can make a wetland project prohibitively expensive. The price tag is looking manageable!

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