By Jack Carver
Belleville’s wetlands are getting the help they need with a donation from the Canadian National Railway.
CN is donating $850,000 over the next three years to Ducks Unlimited Canada to help preserve and restore wetlands in and around Belleville.
The funding is going towards a large wetland conservation on the north side of Rice Lake and the restoration of about 20 new wetlands in the Belleville area.
Restoring wetlands can be a long process, said Erling Armson, a biologist at Ducks Unlimited. Plugging and filling in drained wetlands can only take place after a year’s worth of talking to landowners and applying for the proper permits.
Armson said that this first year of the three-year partnership will be for getting the projects started, so they can start by next year.
Owen Steele, head of conversation programs at Ducks Unlimited Canada, said Belleville is lucky for having the wetlands that it does.
“Belleville is pretty fortunate from a wetland standpoint, wetland loss has been lower than other parts of Ontario, but in Hastings they have lost 60 per cent of their wetlands,” Steele said. “We’re not only trying to make sure those 40 per cent stay there, but also we want to bring a portion of those lost back.”
Steele said that the donation is significant for Ducks Unlimited.
“As a non-profit conservation organization that’s interested in not only keeping wetlands on the landscape but also restoring some that have been degraded, its pretty significant,“ said Steele.
Lindsay Fedchyshyn, public and government affairs communication officer for CN, said the partnership with Ducks Unlimited will help reduce their impact on the environment.
“Once railways are actually built, there’s tree clearing and development that takes place, so we have to make sure sight lines are in place. So this project is another way to help reduce our footprint.”
The donation funds will help build 20 new wetlands projects that will equal to about 250 acres of habitat.