Conservation authority offers technical expertise to landowners

·3 min read

The Grand River Conservation Authority is sharing its technical expertise with the public in a live webinar series covering topics of interest for landowners in the watershed.

The four-part series includes sessions on the conservation authority’s popular cost-sharing tree planting program, invasive tree diseases and pests like the gypsy moth and oak wilt, aquatic species at risk in the Grand River watershed, and the water quality program where conservation staff work with landowners to customize a cost-sharing plan to reduce pollutants entering the river.

Each webinar will consist of a presentation given by a conservation expert followed by a dedicated time for participants to ask questions.

“We all have a role to play as landowners in improving watershed health,” said Louise Heyming, supervisor of conservation outreach at the Grand River Conservation Authority.

“This series of webinars focuses on supporting rural landowners with information on programs that they can access to help make further improvements to benefit the watershed, and their properties and water quality.”

The program was announced earlier this week and 40 participants have registered. The series is designed for rural landowners with more than two-and-a-half acres of land but is open to anyone. The sessions are free of charge but require registration.

Recordings of the webinars will also be posted to the conservation authority website and will be free to access.

Typically, the conservation authority hosts in-person workshops or attends outreach events to interact with landowners. An online format is being piloted this year because of COVID-19. If all goes well and there is enough interest, Heyming said more sessions will be added.

Two of the webinars will focus on the Grand River Conservation Authority’s private land tree planting and rural water quality programs — programs the conservation has been running on behalf of the watershed’s municipalities for decades.

“I love working with the individual landowners and those relationships that we have,” said Heyming. “We have a team of staff that has been delivering the program, some of us, for 20 years.”

“When we drive through the watershed now, we see the individual projects on the landscape, and know that they’re still there and we get to play a role in supporting those landowners.”

The private land tree planting program has been running for more than 60 years, said Heyming. The conservation authority works with an average of 70 landowners to plant about 100,000 trees in the watershed each year.

Trees provide multiple benefits for a watershed, including preventing erosion and providing habitat for species at risk.

The rural water quality program is a cost-sharing program between the Grand River Conservation Authority on behalf of municipalities and landowners to complete projects designed to improve the watershed’s water quality.

Since the program began in 1998, nearly 7,000 projects have been completed with more than $56-million invested in water quality.

In Waterloo Region, nearly $500,000 was invested into 65 water quality improvement projects for the 2020 year.

More information and registration details can be found at grandriver.ca

Leah Gerber’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. The funding allows her to report on stories about the Grand River Watershed. Email lgerber@therecord.com

Leah Gerber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Waterloo Region Record