Creeks, Rivers, and what about Trees?
A country drive looking at degraded Sub-Watersheds and Stripped Riparian Zones.


So what is this stuff?  In one word... Topsoil. 

Canadians have made good progress decreasing the amount of effluent, chemicals, and garbage dumped into our creeks and rivers.  Despite this progress, the watersheds are still in vary poor condition, suffering with degraded water quality, warm water temperatures, low oxygen quantity, and high amounts of silt.

Although we have tightened up regulations, and general practices in many areas effecting water quality, not enough has been done to restore the environment either side of our creeks and rivers - the riparian zone.  As a result, our precious and irreplaceable topsoil's are literally ending up at the bottom of our lakes.  Paying attention to the riparian zone will the difference.

The riparian zone is that narrow ribbon of land that slopes down to the waters edge.  Its importance is in vast disproportion to its size, and is therefore easily overlooked.  As a waterway makes it way from it's source to it's mouth, it twists and turns, creating countless micro climate areas with varying amounts of sun shine, shade, air temperatures, slopes, drainage, soil conditions, and most dramatic - increased levels of biological diversity.  A healthy riparian zone literally is the proverbial "happy hunting ground".  When they build dams, this is the area that is flooded.

For our discussion here, remembering the plumes of brown water in Lake Ontario, we are concerned with the amounts of tree cover mainly effecting water temperatures, and soils effecting filtration of water as it flows into the creeks.  A healthy riparian zone acts as a buffer between farm fields and waterways, keeping topsoil on the land, and shade on the water.  Shade in turn keeps the water temperatures low, and dissolved oxygen levels high, allowing for the kind of mix of aquatic species that would have existed before European Contact.  The water runs clear, even after heavy rains, and during spring runoff.  

The riparian zone also acts as a continues corridor for the movement of wild life.  In relation to woodlots on farms that you see here and there like a checkerboard, riparian zones are a larger habitat area affording much greater diversity.  Plenty of people have written entire books on this subject but that's not where we are going here.  We are just going to go for a virtual drive.


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