photo of hedley slough forest, trees and water
photo of hedley slough forest, trees and water

10.19.2020

NPCA AND PARTNERS TAKE ACTION TO RESTORE AND IMPROVE THE NIAGARA PENINSULA WATERSHED

The application period to the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authorities’ 2021 Restoration Grant Program is now open and seeking projects for consideration. The selected restoration projects will work to improve habitat, water quality, and agricultural practices, as part of ongoing efforts to restore the Niagara Peninsula watershed’s natural heritage and water resources.

“The past year and a half has seen tremendous success as we’ve worked hard to foster collaboration among many partners with the same mission—to protect and restore water quality and diverse habitats in our watershed,” says Geoff Verkade, Senior Manager, Integrated Watershed Planning and Information Management at NPCA. “We are looking ahead into 2021 with the goal of building on this new foundation, which is a culmination of the many successful projects we accomplished since the program’s launch in early 2019.”

In its inaugural year, NPCA staff re-engaged private and public landowners, non-governmental organizations, Nature Clubs, and “Friends of” groups, to leverage funds set aside for the grant program, and completed 25 projects with a three to one return on investment ratio through this partnered approach. The 2019 campaign also established 57,817 trees, 1,019 shrubs, and 1,806 herbaceous plants, resulting in 31.6 hectares of reforestation, 2.37 hectares of wetland creation, and 8,191.5 square meters of streamside riparian restoration opportunities. The projects implemented will deliver invaluable environmental services such as the provision of wildlife habitat, surface water purification, and retention for years to come.

Momentum with the program continued in 2020 despite the onset of COVID-19. Prior to the pandemic, the NPCA was able to allocate its restoration project funding provided by Niagara Region, the City of Hamilton, and the County of Haldimand to a final selection of qualifying projects through its evaluation process. This year saw the completion of 29 projects in compliance with all health and safety precautions, with an additional 13 planned or ongoing.

The renewal of two important partnerships have played a key role in the program’s positive local impact. The NPCA recently renewed its long-standing partnership with Ducks Unlimited to construct 4.4 hectares of wetland habitat. Both organizations engaged with private landowners across the watershed to identify project sites with high potential for wetland restoration. These sites included floodplains, marginal farmland, and restoring areas of historical wetland which all help improve water quality and habitat on the landscape.

In the spring of 2020, the NPCA partnered with Land Care Niagara, Forests Ontario, and landowners to plant 30,600 trees, extending existing woodlands and improving the connectivity between fragmented forests. Over time, these plantings will become migration channels for wildlife, increase the amount of valuable interior forest, and help mitigate the effects of climate change.

Research by various agencies has shown that the Niagara Peninsula watershed is highly degraded in contrast to what conservation literature suggests is required for a healthy and sustainable watershed. In 2011, NPCA studies estimated that the watershed’s remaining natural areas contribute only 56 per cent towards what the system needs to remain viable, and therefore persists as a highly environmentally degraded and fragmented landscape. 

“Our Restoration Grant Program is one of several ways the NPCA is partnering to address the performance gap of the watershed’s natural features to these ecological objectives,” adds Verkade. “Our goal is to embrace partnerships, leverage funding opportunities, promote adaptive management to meet the changing needs of the landscape, and convey awareness of the benefits of environmental restoration.”

The first application intake date for 2021 Restoration Grant Program projects is fast approaching on November 9. Projects eligible for grants of up to $15,000 include wetland habitat creation, tree planting, establishment of stream buffers and fencing, application of cover crops, building manure storage facilities, and water conservation practices. Additional calls for project applications may follow, funding dependent. 

To learn more about the NPCA Restoration Grant program or to download the application form, visit npca.ca/restoration. For information about the state of the watershed, click here.

For more information about the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, please visit www.npca.ca. Follow on Facebook and Twitter for more updates.  

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About NPCA:  

The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) is a community-based natural resource management agency that works to protect, enhance, and sustain healthy watersheds. With 60 years of experience, the NPCA offers watershed programs and services that focus on flood and hazard management, source water protection, species protection, ecosystem restoration, community stewardship, and land management. 

The NPCA is one of 36 Conservation Authorities in the Province of Ontario and manages 41 Conservation Areas within the Niagara Peninsula watershed held in public trust for recreation, heritage preservation, conservation, and education. These natural and shared greenspaces marry nature, culture, and adventure to create limitless opportunities for discovery. 

Questions related to the above release should be directed to: 
Erika Navarro, Communications Specialist  
905.788.3135 ext.262 
Mobile: 905-650-4027 
enavarro@npca.ca 

Questions specific to the Restoration Grant program should be directed to: 
Geoff Verkade, Senior Manager, Integrated Watershed Planning and Information Management  
905.788.3135 ext.244 
gverkade@npca.ca