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Great Lakes Article:

Saving the earth pond by pond
Farmer donates acreage for wetland
By Carmela Fragomeni
Hamilton Spectator
Published June 7, 2007

Jim Watson sees something spiritual in making his own small contribution to restoring Canada's wetlands.

"When you work to beautify the Earth, you glorify God," he says.

He's not a particularly religious man, but this is his way of explaining why he would give up 1.2 hectares of his Mount Hope farm so Ducks Unlimited and several other conservation organizations can create a wetland to attract aquatic plants and wildlife.

Watson is also a man who believes in the power and efficacy of many small projects creating real change. He saw that in his travels to Nicaragua with the Canadian Food Grains Bank, which helps farmers in that impoverished country.

Watson's wetland, more importantly to the Ontario Great Lakes Renewal Foundation, will become yet another small filter, cleaning ground and surface water before it runs a long way down ditches, streams, creeks and eventually into Lake Ontario.

The foundation's Larry Kent puts it this way: "A wetland is nature's water filter for the Great Lakes. The best thing we can do (to combat pollution) is to get to the water before it goes into the lakes."

This caretaking of the ecosystem is the only way to remediate the Great Lakes' 41 pollution hot spots, including Hamilton Harbour, he says.

"We more than put a Band-Aid on it. We've gone back to the source."

Although Watson is also building an irrigation pond, and it's only on 1.2 hectares of his 27.5-hectare Christmas tree farm, he is still proud of doing something for the greater good.

"I get irrigation, but also we have some responsibility. As a human being, you have some responsibility for the Earth," he says.

The wetland, to be created in August out of a portion of low-lying, fallow land will be on a spot that was a wetland before there was farming in the area, says Jeff Krete, conservation specialist with Ducks Unlimited, one of the organizations funding the $18,000 project.

Krete will be responsible for water-flow aspects of the site.

"This area would have had many small wetlands in the past under forest cover."

An earthen barrier or berm will be built to hold back water, flooding the area to a depth of one metre, allowing for a broad range of plants such as soft-stemmed bulrush and duckweed. Nesting boxes will be installed for waterfowl.

The opportunities to restore wetlands in Canada, generally lie on agricultural land, where it is also most cost-effective, says Krete.







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