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Shorelines at FortWhyte Alive

Posted on October 23, 2019

Shorelines along the lakes at FortWhyte Alive are great places to watch a sunset, go fishing, or launch a canoe, but shorelines are also important spaces for wildlife habitat, erosion prevention and water quality protection.

Shoreline projects at FortWhyte Alive, funded this fall by the Conservation Trust, involved habitat improvement and shoreline stabilization with innovative biodegradable structural materials and native plantings, including willows harvested locally.

Willows have been used for millennia by different cultures around the world to stabilize shorelines; records exist from the Middle Ages from France and the Netherlands. Willows have an amazing property of forming roots from their branches if planted in wet soil.  Bundles can be laid down under soil layers, or live sticks can be poked into the soil by hand or with a jet planter. 

Willows grow quickly, with some species attaining their full height in four years, providing habitat benefits such as a source of nectar and pollen for insects in the early spring, and a feast for migratory songbirds looking for fuel for their journey north.

With help from partners and volunteers (see below), we…

  • Harvested willow brushwood bundles to create shoreline structures.
  • Placed coconut fibre logs at the water’s edge to be planted with cattails and other aquatic vegetation in spring.
  • Moved soil to fill in an eroding bank, then planted willow stems to grow quickly and stabilize the soil. 
  • Planted other native shrubs such as dogwood, snowberry and wild rose along shoreline areas. We planted upland, bur oak and balsam poplar trees. Plans are underway to seed native grasses and wildflowers before winter.
  • FortWhyte Alive also took the opportunity to create some new access areas for humans to get closer to the lake to fish or just take in the view by adding a riverstone beach at Loly Lookout and a limestone reinforcement to stabilize and beautify a fishing spot west of the Interpretive Centre.

Thank you to…

Chris Randall at Seine-Rat River Conservation District, for donation of time since fall 2017 to this project. Chris was involved this fall in installing shoreline structures of innovative biodegradable materials for erosion control, and the donation of water-jet planter for willow planting.

Bruce Jasperson of Jasperson’s Greenhouse and Landscapes, for donating 3 days of labour to move soil and rock.

Peter Paulic at Brandt Tractor for donating the use of machinery for landscaping work. 

Merle Balsillie at Standard Limestone Quarries for donation of a load of beautiful limestone rock, and a big thank you to Darcy Wakshinsky and Wakshinsky Brothers Ltd. for providing delivery.

Reimer Soils for discount on riverstone for our boat launch space.

Native Plant Solutions for consultation on native species seeding for dry and wet meadow areas.

Volunteers from FortWhyte Alive, Stantec and general public who contributed hours to planting along the shorelines this fall.