THE COUNTIES, Ontario - The Raisin Region Conservation Authority is now offering a new land stewardship service to property owners in its watershed jurisdiction in Cornwall and surrounding area of SDG. Thanks to a partnership with Grasslands Ontario, the RRCA can now assist landowners looking to establish, enhance, or maintain grasslands on their properties by covering up to 100 per cent of project costs. The initiative complements other RRCA stewardship programs designed to enhance forest cover, improve water quality, and conserve and restore sensitive ecological habitat.
“Due to changes in land use, there has been a decline in natural grassland habitat over the years,” said RRCA Stewardship Coordinator, Jessica Herrington. “We have also seen a population decline in species that require grasslands to survive, such as the bobolink and eastern meadowlark, both of which are now considered species-at-risk in Ontario.”
Beside providing habitat for these threatened species, grasslands can offer other ecological benefits, such as encouraging pollination by providing bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds with steady sources of nectar, mitigating the effects of climate change by capturing and storing atmospheric carbon, and supporting biodiversity by providing habitat, shelter, and food to a wide range of species.
Planting, seeding, tending, or enlarging native grasslands, controlling encroaching trees, shrubs and invasive species, and delaying hay-cutting during nesting season are some of the activities which could be eligible for funding. Grassland projects may also be supported through ALUS Ontario East, a program that works with local farmers to produces ecosystem services on marginal and ecologically sensitive parcels and on lands that can be managed in a different manner.
Property owners interested in grassland and other stewardship projects, including full-service tree planting, are encouraged to contact Jessica Herrington at (613) 938-3611 or Jessica.Herrington@rrca.on.ca.
Visitors at the RRCA’s Cooper Marsh Conservation Area will be also able to witness a start-to-finish grassland restoration project, as the RRCA is currently restoring a former hayfield located in the eastern edge of the Marsh near County Road 2.
“Over time, this area became overrun with non-grassland and invasive species, which significantly undermined habitat quality,” says Herrington.
The RRCA recently mowed the site and will prepare the soil this fall through deep tilling prior to seeding it with a mix of native grasses.