The trash heap doesn't live at Kerr anymore

Group photo at Kerr property (Photo by NCC)

Group photo at Kerr property (Photo by NCC)

October 10, 2016 | by Megan Quinn

One of the most rewarding parts of working as a conservation technician with the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the opportunity to explore NCC’s beautiful and ecologically diverse properties. The Kerr Property in the Frontenac Arch Natural Area has been one of my favourites ever since the first time I visited it.

The 64-acre (25-hectare) site features a combination of granite rock barrens, heavily forested valleys and wetlands. These habitats support a wide variety of plant, animal and invertebrate species.

There is currently an old homestead on the property that had accumulated a lot of garbage and waste. In order to clean up and protect the ecological integrity of the Kerr property, NCC organized a Conservation Volunteers (CV) event on August 6, called “The trash heap doesn’t live here anymore.”

The event was generously sponsored by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) and local resident Jim Spencer, who kindly offered up his tractor and truck for use during the day.

Hauling a big piece of scrap metal is a job for two! (Photo by NCC)

Hauling a big piece of scrap metal is a job for two! (Photo by NCC)

A total of nine volunteers contributed five hours of their Saturday to clean up Kerr. This is the second CV event I have co-hosted, and it always brings me a sense of overwhelming pride to see the hard work our volunteers put into the day.

We removed windows, wooden boards, barrels, plastic bottles, a stove, roofing, bricks and even an intact spice rack. Despite the hot weather, and sometimes unglamorous work, there was a smile on the face of every volunteer. As we worked, the volunteers shared their stories of growing up in the area, and we soon had a rich history of the property and its neighbours. CV events can be incredible community-building opportunities.

Volunteers were treated to an authentic fieldwork lunch of hummus, vegetables, cookies, bread and bean salad served on real plates, napkins and cutlery (as opposed to the Tupperware we normally use). Biologists Aleta Karstad and Fred Schueler also gave us a 101 on some of the invertebrates they found underneath the garbage.

The day's result: three-quarters of a dumpster filled and 24 cubic metres pile of trash collected (Photo by NCC)

The day's result: three-quarters of a dumpster filled and 24 cubic metres pile of trash collected (Photo by NCC)

In total, we filled almost three quarters of a dumpster and collected a 24-cubic metre pile of scrap metal. Not bad for a day’s work!

It would be impossible to complete the work we do at NCC without the dedicated volunteers and sponsors who support our Conservation Volunteers events. It has definitely inspired me to give more of my time to environmental causes, and I encourage you to do the same. Even if you only have an hour or two to donate on one day a year, it really makes a big difference in your community. You can ask any of the attendees: there is nothing better than looking at a site, and knowing you’ve left it better than when you arrived.

To all the volunteers, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for all that you do.

Find out more about the Conservation Volunteers opportunities in your area >

Megan Quinn

About the Author

Megan Quinn is the the Nature Conservancy of Canada's coordinator of conservation biology in Eastern Ontario.

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