I’m never leaving the Maitland!
Growing up in southwestern Ontario, I had heard tales of the Maitland River near Goderich, and Ontario’s west coast along Lake Huron. However, it wasn’t until I started working with the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) that I began spending a lot of time there.
My first trip to NCC’s Lower Maitland River Valley properties was in winter. I remember walking on snow-covered trails surrounded by towering conifers and frosty, leafless shrubs. I saw white-tailed deer, wild turkeys and woodpeckers there.
This spring, those same properties just exploded with life. The ground was bursting with spring flowers. Many more species of birds and other wildlife could be seen observing you as you walked along the trail. At any point on these properties, you could be next door to a groundhog burrow, walking beside a salamander’s rock or have a basking turtle silently watching you.
My first Conservation Volunteers event involved planting trees at the John and Marylo Graham Nature Reserve. Dedicated volunteers Michael Strickland, Derek Strickland, Rachel White and Eric Conway helped restore parts of the forest. These volunteers weren’t scared of a challenge, walking more than eight kilometres and planting their hearts out until the job was done. We couldn’t have done it without them!
A couple of weeks later, we held a weed pull at the Blacker Property. With volunteers joining us from Goderich, Clinton and London, we pulled 15 garbage bags of garlic mustard out of a sensitive seepage area (a place where groundwater emerges from the soil) on the property and hiked it all the way up the hill back to the truck. A special shout out to one 92-year-old woman in particular who came with us and who passed me on the way up the hill when we were leaving! She has been a supporter of NCC for many years, and she said she loves to see the stewardship activities we’re doing on the ground.
Needless to say, my first few months working in the Maitland have been memorable! From hog-nosed snakes to shoreline birds, this is becoming one of my favourite natural areas. Thank you to everyone in the Maitland for making my experience so great!