May 25, 2018, OTTAWA — Funding partners and over 60 guests gathered to celebrate the opening of the newly refreshed and rehabilitated Baxter Pond.
Located at the Baxter Conservation Area, the Baxter ASL Pond is visited annually by over 5,000 students from kindergarten to university looking to learn about pond ecology. It is home to frogs, fish, turtles, birds and aquatic invertebrates and visited by children who get to observe the diversity of life hiding along its shores and in its cool waters. It is here where students learn about freshwater pond habitat and how animals adapt to life under water. Equipped with nets, basins and sporting good old-fashioned rubber boots, students get up close and personal with the animals that call the pond home.
Although still teeming with life, the pond wasn’t as healthy and resilient as it could be. Dry summers were taking a toll on the shallow pond. It was time to gently deepen its bed, thin-out excessive vegetation, add wood materials as habitat, plant shoreline shrubs and install new platforms for future outdoor learning. And thanks to several community-minded partners, the pond was able get the TLC it well deserved.
The project was jumpstarted with an in-kind donation by ASL Agrodrain – Earth Works Contractors. From here, additional funders were quick to jump onboard and the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority’s (RVCA) rehabilitation plan was put in motion.
“The pond is a remarkable, vibrant area — and these restoration efforts will only make it better,” said Jennifer Lamoureux, RVCA Biologist who oversaw the project. “Last summer was quite wet, this meant that the pond habitat was really robust and meant that over 4,000 fish, frogs, tadpoles and turtles were relocated by RVCA staff last fall before the restoration project began. This included six largemouth bass and a brown bullhead with eight yearlings. We are confident that deepening the pond will only improve its biodiversity and ensure it continues as a special spot for children to explore and learn.”
The newly restored pond now boasts a variety of side slopes that allow for more diverse plant growth and also provide safe learning areas for keen kids. Wood material, in and out of the water, now acts as homes for fish, frogs and turtles while freshly planted native trees and shrubs will add to the pond’s shoreline vegetation.
In the meantime, educations programs are fully booked over the next few months to the end of the school year. “We are excited to welcome children back to the pond,” said Andrea Wood, RVCA Area Supervisor and Interpreter. “Our programs are interactive and provide students with a hands-on approach to learning and the Baxter ASL Pond is an important part of the experience.”
Special thanks to the funders who made the restoration project possible: ASL Agrodrain, the Canadian Armed Forces Fish and Game Club, Canon Canada, City of Ottawa, Don Maciver Memorial Fund, Kiwanis Club of Manotick, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters Zone F, TD Friends of the Environment, along with Rideau Valley Conservation Authority and Rideau Valley Conservation Foundation.
Photo: Funders of the Baxter Pond Restoration Project gather to unveil the new interpretive sign developed as part of the improvement efforts — (left to right) Jeanine Maciver (Don Maciver Memorial Fund), Michael Poliwada (RVCF Executive Director), Adrian Smith (Manager TD Bank, Manotick), Ryan Polkinghorne (Project Manager Surface Water Engineering Support Services, City of Ottawa), Bill McShane (ASL Agrodrain President), Sommer Casgrain-Robertson (RVCA General Manager), Sandro Ricci (ASL Agrodrain Vice President of Business).