SWF and Tree Canada bringing trees back to the Assiniboine River watershed

Tree Canada partnered with the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation (SWF) once again to plant over 32,000 white spruce seedlings on three sites totaling approximately 20 hectares (50 acres) in the Canora area adjacent the Assiniboine River on July 6 and 7. The project is part of Tree Canada’s National Greening program, a mass seedling planting program which targets areas in need of reforestation or afforestation across Canada, said Kelvin Kelly, Saskatchewan community adviser, Tree Canada.

Co-ordinated by a Tree Canada contractor, in consultation with Darren Newberry, the SWF Land Manager and a local branch representative, Doug Lapitsky of Canora, a member of the River Ridge Fish and Game branch of the SWF, the project, continued over two years, will see over 52,000 seedlings grow across 33 of hectares of land, according to Kelly.

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“As the planting sites act as an important green buffer and wildlife corridor, the reforestation will further improve the habitat for wildlife and increase the enjoyment of the area by outdoor enthusiasts,” he continued. “The reduction of wind erosion and the stabilization of the soil brought about by the planting will also result in a cleaner Assiniboine River and watershed for generations to come.”

Tree Canada gratefully acknowledges the work and contribution towards this project from the tree nursery suppliers (PRT and Clearwater Greenhouses), Dunkley Lumber and the in-kind services provided by the SWF for the site preparation. 

Lapitsky, the habitat chair for River Ridge, said his role was to find locations to plant the trees and then co-ordinate the preparation of the land for tree planting.

“The land was disced to remove the tall grass and other weeds by Murray Horkoff of Linden Valley Organics of Veregin,” said Lapitsky. “This gives the trees the best possible opportunity to survive.”

Unlike 2019 when the weather was extremely dry both before and after the tree planting, this year’s conditions were close to ideal.

“The weather was excellent, not too hot and not too cold,” reported Lapitsky. “The area had about three inches of rain in the weeks prior and about an inch of rain since the trees went into the ground.”

The tree planting crew included Mike Gutzer, Ken Chaplin and his twin brother Curt of Smokey Lake Tree Planting. Ken is the Guinness World Record holder, having previously planted 15,170 trees in a single day.