Pond Creatures find a friend
April 22nd is Earth Day, a day when activities and events in support of the protection of the environment are held in more than one hundred and ninety countries worldwide. This year’s Earth Day may be an historic one as the long-awaited Paris
Agreement, the climate protection treaty adopted at the United Nations Climate Change Conference last year is scheduled to be signed by over one hundred and twenty countries, including Canada, the United States and China.
But when it comes to the environment, sometimes the ‘little’ stories are just as important as the big ones. Like the story of Ogden resident Sharon Levin, known locally for her talent in wildlife photography, and her attempt to bring back a small nature reserve to an area along the Tomifobia Nature Trail, in Stanstead.
“It is a natural wet area, a part of Hall’s Creek,” began Ms. Levin, a retired librarian, as we walked along the Tomifobia Nature Trail near the North Derby Road, heading to the spot where a healthy pond once provided food and habitat for a wide variety of wildlife, including some rare species. The pond is now almost dried up, with just enough water to support some bulrushes and a healthy frog population, following an intervention by the town of Stanstead a few years ago to control some flooding in the Beebe sector which was caused by some beavers.
In a letter recently sent by Ms. Levin to the town of Stanstead to shed light on the situation, she wrote: “I have seen all sorts of animals, especially when Hall’s Creek, which parallels the bike path, is full of water because of beaver dams. With three feet or more of water, ducks, turtles, small fish, make themselves at home. People come out after supper, walking their dogs, enjoying the view. It becomes a community asset, one that gets us out together and that adds to the value of the nearby houses. One boy told me it gave him a place to walk his dog. It gives this part of Stanstead something unusual and precious.”
“We did some beaver trapping near the Junction Road a few years ago. Every so many years, the water gets backed up. A resident was experiencing some flooding on their land and the extra water could also cause damage to the town’s sewer pump,” explained Stanstead mayor Philippe Dutil when asked about the circumstances.
Ms. Levin continued: “When the beaver dams were destroyed, the pond went from a few feet deep to just a few inches. It was no longer a good home for wildlife; they left.”
Considering what a resource the pond once was, for the animals living in and around it and the people who enjoyed lingering on its banks, Sharon is wondering if the town might take a different approach to the problem of active beavers doing their important environmental work, if and when they return. “Perhaps money could be raised to help protect people’s properties, and we could just let the beavers do their thing. I think the beavers will come back to this area. The town could put in a few benches and it would be a place where people could gather again. When the pond here dried up, quite a lot was lost,” concluded Sharon.
A pair of Mallard ducks that used to live at the pond.
Sharon Levin, seen at the site of the dried up pond, hopes the area will one day be home to a variety of wildlife again. photo Victoria Vanier
Painted turtles, expected to become endangered soon through loss of habitat, lived in the pond before it dried up.
A rare sighting of a camouflaged Bittern.