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FortWhyte Alive

Shoreline Restoration with Natural Landscaping

FortWhyte Alive’s lake edges are quietly undergoing a magical transformation, thanks to a bit of human effort and some amazing native plants.

FortWhyte Alive is a 660-acre space for humans to connect with nature--but it hasn't always been this way.

Our 5 lakes were excavated during Canada Cement's clay mining operations starting in 1911, leaving steep shorelines and a barren landscape. Although today our shorelines host a variety of grasses and perennials, the steep banks continue to be prone to slumping and erosion. To combat this problem, FortWhyte has been gathering groups of volunteers to help improve our shorelines.

Expert advice from Manitoba Conservation Districts Association has us using native willows (Salix spp.), which quickly grow massive root systems to hold soil together. Willows are amazing shrubs, which already grow abundantly on FortWhyte’s property.

Our willow clipping crew meets up and heads out to clip hundreds of stems for shoreline restoration sessions. Stems are soaked in water for 14 days or more, and on planting day, we push the stems into the ground near water so that only about a thumb length appears above the soil surface. Over time, these willows will grow to help maintain a naturally stable shoreline.

With these instructions, why not try to harness this botanical magic and plant your own willows on a shoreline in your own backyard or at the cottage? You’ll protect your property from erosion, and help support a healthy environment.

Interested in being involved in shoreline restoration at FortWhyte Alive? Join FortWhyte Alive and Seine-Rat River Conservation District’s Chris Randall on Saturday, October 5 from 10:00 am-3:00 pm to help install innovative natural erosion control materials and plant living willow stems.


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