More than just trash removal was on tap for Saturday’s community cleanup of Sarnia’s parks and trails.
As more than 700 people across 25 parks combed through bushes for garbage, and tidied up leaves and brush, environmental educator Kim Gledhill was leading a small group transplanting dune grass into a sparse area of sand on Canatara Beach.
“Usually it’s done in the fall, but because of the cleanup, we do plant a few in the springtime,” she said.
“It’s not as successful but we’re finding it is fairly successful, so it’s worthwhile,” she said.
Gledhill, with Natures Way, has been organizing dune grass planting on the beach for the last few years as part of the spring cleanup day, since volunteers are there already, she said.
She’s been doing the transplanting six years with school groups, she said, noting the first marram grasses were brought in from Pinery Provincial Park, where they’re prevalent.
Well-grown clumps at Canatara now feed the sparse sections, she said, building up the root structure that keeps beach sand from washing away.
“There’s no cost to the city and it really makes a huge difference to the health of our water quality, and it provides incredible habitat for so many species,” she said.
People wanting to learn more can contact Gledhill at 519-403-3870, or [email protected].
Around 400 people, meanwhile, were expected in Canatara Park alone for the fifth annual cleanup day, said organizer Rachel Veilleux, that this year included elements throwing back to Sarnia’s former Envirofest festival – including guided walks through Tarzanland, and talks about composting and native-plant gardening.
“They’re just little snippets of what Envirofest used to be and we’re hoping to kind of expand that as we go,” said Veilleux, recreation coordinator with the City of Sarnia.
The city worked with the Sarnia environmental advisory committee for the Envirofest elements; the Rotary Club of Sarnia-Lambton After-Hours put on a free barbecue for participants; and public health and the North Lambton Community Health Centre were on hand this year to assist with picking up any needles found, Veilleux said.
Few have been found over the years during the community cleanup event, she said, but dealing with them can be uncomfortable.
“That’s why we’re fortunate to have these two groups,” she said. “They’re the experts.”
Last year’s cleanup bagged 300 bags of garbage and recyclables, and the event provides good corporate bonding for businesses and organizations, Veilleux said.
“It’s a huge help to our parks staff as well.”
Those who want to do more can also participate in environmental advisory committee events coming up every Thursday in May.
Starting May 2, the group is cleaning the prairie garden at the Art Teasell Wildlife Refuge on Blackwell Road.
May 9, 16 and 23, the task is removing invasive garlic mustard and spreading wood chips in Tarzanland in Canatara Park, and May 30 the garden at the corner of Christina and Davis streets is being cleaned.
All events go 6:30-8:30 p.m. The committee asks participants to bring gloves and shovels.
Similar events in past years have had good turnout, said the committee’s Brenda Lorenz.
“We just like to have the public come out if they want to help out.”