There's always something new to discover at FortWhyte Alive.
FortWhyte Alive’s lake edges are quietly undergoing a magical transformation, thanks to a bit of human effort and some amazing native plants.
On Saturday, May 4, volunteers and members of the public joined in to enhance and stabilize shoreline along FortWhyte Alive’s Muir Lake. Our team followed a bioengineering method commonly used in the UK, involving the use of “soft” materials such as biodegradable coir logs and live willows, guided by Chris Randall, a Project Manager with Seine Rat River Conservation District.
FortWhyte’s lakes were excavated during Canada Cement clay mining operations, starting in 1911. Bulldozers and other machinery left steep shorelines, and a damaged landscape.
Floodwater topped up the pits to form lakes, and in 1966, a small group of nature-lovers established a new private, non-profit organization which would grow up to be FortWhyte Alive.
FortWhyte’s shorelines have grown to host a variety of grasses and perennials, and some shrubs. The steep banks near the lakes continue to be prone to slumping and erosion.
Our project goal is to reduce shoreline erosion while providing songbird habitat and a food source for native pollinating insects.
Willows (Salix spp.) are known as nature’s rebar – they quickly form massive root systems to hold soil together. Willows already grow abundantly in FortWhyte’s wetland areas and were harvested onsite.
Willows produce a rooting hormone at the growing tips of branches, and when placed in water, will produce adventitious roots.
In preparation for our project, over 2,000 live willow stems were clipped and rooted in buckets of water.
We installed coir (coconut fibre) logs and willow bundles in the water, using wood stakes for stability.
Coir erosion control blanket was rolled out underneath to hold the additional soil.
New soil and last year’s flax bales added to fill in the space along the steep shoreline.
Erosion control blanket was wrapped over to bundle the soil.
Rooted willows were planted through the blanket.
Thicker willow stems will be transplanted and additional plants will be introduced throughout the coming season to ensure they take root.
We would like extend a big thank you to the group of amazing volunteers who helped out with this project, both in preparation by gathering willows, and moving materials to the site, as well as doing the hard work of moving soil and wading in the lake. You can now watch your efforts grow over time!
This project is part of FortWhyte Alive’s Model Watershed Project and funded by RBC Foundation.
Let’s Work Together!
FortWhyte Alive is pleased to offer group volunteering opportunities as a teambuilding perk to its corporate supporters. This win-win partnership is a fantastic way to deepen relationships, provide meaningful interactions for employees, and connect your brand to a cause you champion.
Get Your Hands Dirty
We offer a range of opportunities for groups of 5-10 people at FortWhyte Farms. It’s the perfect place for your team to work shoulder-to-shoulder, learn something new, and get active outdoors. FortWhyte Farms is a working farm and no two days look alike. We offer a range of activities depending on the season such as greenhouse chores, planting, harvesting, animal tending, and field cleanup.
Groups can expect an orientation and short tour of the farm, all necessary tools, indoor facilities for lunch and snack breaks, staff supervision, and hands-on tasks. Groups can also expect camaraderie, photo opportunities, and a feeling of accomplishment.
Sound good? Great! Drop us a line with the following information:
Want the teambuilding without the grit? We also offer a wide range of teambuilding programs that will leave your group energized, inspired, and ready to break new ground. These group experiences are designed to encourage teamwork and improve communication – contributing to a more productive, positive, and healthy work environment.
A small group of volunteers at FortWhyte Alive has been quietly working away on a new strategy to protect birds traveling through on migration.
Across North America, the estimated number of migrating birds killed annually in collisions with buildings ranges from 100 million to 1 billion birds. That’s an estimated 1 to 10 birds per building per year, according to FLAP Canada, an organization focused on migratory birds in the urban environment.
As FortWhyte Alive is a birding hotspot located on the Central Flyway, we must protect migrating birds that stop off to rest on their journey through our property.
A small group of volunteers at FortWhyte Alive has been quietly working away on a new strategy to protect birds traveling through on migration. In fact, 10 dedicated volunteers gave over 150 hours completing this project. Wow!
This spring, both the Alloway Reception Centre and Interpretive Centre windows have been retrofitted with homemade bird saving wind curtains.
How does it work?
A window reflects the outdoor environment. When birds see windows, they just see trees and clear skies.
With the wind curtains installed, birds see the cords and adjust their flight path to avoid a collision. This installation is expected to reduce collisions by 90% or greater.
What about anti-strike stickers or decals?
Anti-strike stickers leave gaps that birds still perceive as open sky. For stickers to be effective, they need to be no more than 4” apart, affecting visibility through the window for humans inside.
Want to try making your own bird savers for your home?
Plans and explanation of the wind curtains can be found on this website.
Volunteers are the ones on the ground, cultivating relationships with nature and making a difference in real time. Thank you, FortWhyte Alive volunteers!
On Wednesday, May 1, FortWhyte Alive hosted Dig it!: Skills in Soil Science Day, which connected high school students to current soil science and sustainable agriculture practices in Manitoba through hands-on experiences.
Soil scientists from Manitoba Agriculture and University of Manitoba, along with staff from Manitoba Conservation Districts, ran hands-on learning stations visited by Grades 9-12 students and their teachers from both rural and urban schools.
Student comments following the day indicate that they took away some big concepts:
The six stations visited connected with science, geography and agriculture themes, and sparked interest in careers in environmental protection, agriculture and soil science.
A big thank you to all presenters, especially Mitchell Timmerman, of Manitoba Agriculture, who coordinated the presenters and equipment for the event, and Kent Lewarne, of Nutrients for Life.
It's no secret that spring is the cutest season of the year.
Each spring, we tend to receive a spike in inquiries regarding baby animal sightings. With all the spring newborns around, it's only natural that baby birds and animals are the subject of much curiosity and concern.
"I found a baby animal. What do I do?"
First, it's important to note that, while many species of animals and birds call FortWhyte Alive home, we do not provide animal rehabilitation services.
Concern over these cute little ones is understandable. They are so small (so cute!) and often appear vulnerable out on their own in the wild.
But before you take action regarding a baby bird or animal, please review these handy guides provided by author Shannon K. Jacobs:
As you see here, it's often okay and, in many cases, preferable to leave the babies where you found them and trust that nature takes care of its own.
Public education on the nature of infant wildlife can reduce the number of animals brought to wildlife rehabilitation centres, which are already working in high gear come spring.
Thank you for your concern and cooperation!