Wise seedling spree
When I went on to the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) website and read over the Conservation Volunteers (CV) events, I noticed the Wise Seedling Spree. I had planted trees before when my son was in Cubs and Scouts. I registered myself for the event and also put my name down to join a carpool.
On Saturday, May 7, 2016 we left Regina very early in the morning. Somewhere north of Saskatoon, I saw a flock of Canada geese grazing in a field. A little farther north, I saw a whole field covered in snow geese resting and having a bite to eat before they continued their journey north. On a grid road south of Hwy #3, I saw a herd of elk lazing about enjoying the mild May weather. We also passed an old abandoned church with shrubbery growing up around it, and I wondered if turkey vultures used it for a nesting place.
We met more vehicles of volunteers at the turnoff that would lead us to the NCC property. A local landowner, Giles Lalonde, came out to spend the day with us. Sarah Ludlow, Conservation Volunteers coordinator in the Saskatchewan Region, introduced staff members to the volunteers. Volunteers were also given insect repellent to put on to ward off wood ticks and mosquitoes.
Next, Giles showed us where to park. We all piled into the two NCC vehicles and crossed the property to where we would be planting the seedlings.
NCC staff handed out shovels and gloves for the volunteers to use. There was also a water jug available for all to refill their water bottles. We walked out onto the property and Giles gave a step-by-step lesson on how to plant the seedlings. Then we dispersed and planted on our own, with Giles checking on our progress, making recommendations on how to improve our planting technique.
While we were all busy planting seeds, someone called out. I stopped what I was doing and looked up to see three turkey vultures circling over our heads, checking us out. Giles pointed out a four-foot tree that had been used as a rub by an elk or deer.
We continued planting until it was time to break for lunch. We found a shady spot to sit, rest and enjoy the lunch we brought. After lunch we continued to plant the trees until we ran out of seedlings.
After a morning of hard work, Giles took us for a walk on the cross-country ski trails through the mixed parkland forest, pointing out the different kinds of trees in various stages of growth. He told us about the animals he that had seen in the area: beavers, porcupines, fishers and even a lynx! Fortunately, most of them were only visible to us by the scat they had left behind.
Matthew Braun, NCC manager of conservation science and natural areas in Saskatchewan, explained how NCC, with the help of Giles, was working on creating a management plan for the property site.
I like attending NCC’s CV events because it gets me out of the city. I can usually join a carpool, and even though I have some knowledge, when you go out on events with NCC you always learn something new, see one or two items really well, and learn something you did not know before from the NCC staff who are often fresh out of university.
The day’s activities complete, I was dropped off at home; sunburnt, tired, worn out, exhausted, lungs full of fresh air, expecting sore muscles by the next morning but feeling quite happy. I always feel like I am seeing Saskatchewan on foot, one small section at a time.