In partnership with Watersheds Canada, the Shawnigan Basin Society is now offering a new program that will help waterfront property owners in South Cowichan use natural plants to help restore their properties. (File photo)

In partnership with Watersheds Canada, the Shawnigan Basin Society is now offering a new program that will help waterfront property owners in South Cowichan use natural plants to help restore their properties. (File photo)

Waterfront property owners in South Cowichan encouraged to plant their shorelines

Watersheds Canada’s Natural Edge Program now offered locally

In partnership with Watersheds Canada, the Shawnigan Basin Society is offering a new program that will see the society work with waterfront property owners in the South Cowichan watershed to restore their shoreline by planting native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers.

With shorelines facing the likelihood of increasing high flood levels and erosion rates, the SBS said it is proud to be engaged in Watersheds Canada’s Natural Edge Program by becoming the first program partner in British Columbia last year.

Under the program, each landowner can receive a full-service restoration program for their property using Watersheds Canada’s self-developed app.

Each customized plan provides detailed descriptions of native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers suitable for planting based on their site conditions and preferences.

The SBS said many landowners in other areas have enjoyed taking part in the program.

“Once you realize the importance of having a natural edge along your shoreline, you can do nothing but want to take action,” said Conrad Biernacki, owner of the Black River Bed and Breakfast in Milford, Ontario who participated in the NEP in the fall of 2019.

“The NEP provided us with the perfect solution all for an extremely affordable cost. The NEP is for everyone who lives by the water and cares about the environment.”

By planting, landowners can work to improve water quality as native plants filter excess nutrients and toxins out of water run-off.

Vegetated shorelines also stabilize the shore and reduce soil erosion as plant roots hold soil in place, and overhanging brush reduces the impact that waves and boat wakes have on a shoreline.

In addition, landowners actively create vital wildlife habitat that is home to more than 90 per cent of aquatic wildlife at some point in their lifetime.

“Bringing this fully inclusive program to the South Cowichan region is a huge step in engaging property owners in shoreline stewardship,” said Shirley Astleford, the SBS’s board member who is leading the program in Shawnigan.

Property owners are guided through the entire process, from the site plan to the physical planting.

Both the property owner and the natural ecosystem benefit, from slowing property erosion from wind and wave action, to protecting water quality and re-establishing essential habitat for a wealth of wildlife.

Not only does the project support planting on residential and agricultural properties, but could also be offered on public lands in cooperation with local and provincial entities.

The NEP will be offered by SBS for all three communities in the South Cowichan watershed.

To learn more about the program and see if you are eligible for a free site visit, email admin@shawniganbasinsociety.org or visit the link to the NEP on the SBS’s website at https://www.shawniganbasinsociety.org/

Environment