Dis­carded Christ­mas trees help keep carp at bay

Nat­u­ral berm beefed up stop­ping de­struc­tive fish from go­ing into marsh

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - MARK MCNEIL mm­c­neil@thes­pec.com 905-526-4687 | @Markatthes­pec

Here is a cu­ri­ous sign that spring is on the way — Christ­mas trees.

Out in Grind­stone Creek, Royal Botan­i­cal Gar­dens work­ers have been us­ing more than 2,500 trees dis­carded from Christ­mas to for­tify a berm across the creek that is de­signed to keep carp from trav­el­ling into the marsh.

They want to have the berm in place be­fore the ice melts. And with soar­ing tem­per­a­tures this week­end, that’s a real pos­si­bil­ity.

“It’s kind of Plan B for not hav­ing a carp bar­rier over i n the Grind­stone Creek marsh,” said Tys Theysmeyer, head of nat­u­ral lands at the Royal Botan­i­cal Gar­dens.

Carp are de­struc­tive to marsh ar­eas be­cause they stir up the bot­tom and cloud the wa­ters, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for plant life to grow and a healthy food chain to be cre­ated.

Back in the 1990s, the RBG built a $2.3-mil­lion carp bar­rier and fish­way at the Des­jardins Canal.

The bar­rier stops carp from pass­ing through, but de­sir­able species, such as sport fish are al­lowed through with hand-sort­ing of fish caught in bas­kets.

The Christ­mas tree bar­rier stops spawn­ing carp from pass­ing through, but species smaller in size can still pass.

The trees are also used to build up banks of the creek.

Theysmeyer said the marsh has been steadily im­prov­ing each year.

“It’s been like two steps for­ward and one step back. The most ob­vi­ous im­prove­ment is the wa­ter is a lot clearer most of the time. Aquatic veg­e­ta­tion has gone from noth­ing to many hectares. It’s grow­ing and am­phib­ians are com­ing back,” he said.

The trees are ac­quired from re- tail­ers clear­ing out their left­over stock after Christ­mas and from peo­ple drop­ping off their trees after Christ­mas.

In a sep­a­rate project, the city in re­cent days used old trees it col­lected to re­store the banks of Bronte Creek in Court­cliffe Park, which is in Flam­bor­ough.

The re­cy­cling and waste depart­ment picks up trees in Jan­uary. Most are then dropped off at the city’s trans­fer sta­tions, where they are sent to be com­posted at the mu­nic­i­pal leaf and yard fa­cil­ity.

GARY YOKOYAMA, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

An­drew Borer, left, and Rob Dier­mair, both biotech­ni­cians with the RBG, toss some of the 2,500 Christ­mas trees needed for this year’s tree berm buf­fer at the mouth of Grind­stone Creek. The RBG needs to add new trees to main­tain berm heights to pro­tect the flood­plain ponds dur­ing any an­nual high-wa­ter lev­els.

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