Preserve Parker Wetlands & Aspen Forest!
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My name is Jess Woolford and I am writing to you on behalf of Winnipeg’s Parker Wetlands Conservation Committee. We desperately need your help to save our Parker Wetlands & Aspen Forest.
Spend a little time reviewing World Wildlife Fund-Canada’s new Watershed Report and it quickly becomes clear that here in Manitoba we are doing a poor job of protecting our water, especially in the Assiniboine-Red Watershed in the southern portion of the province. In fact, WWF-C rates the overall threats to our area as Very High. This is its worst ranking.
Focusing on Winnipeg for the moment, let’s break the overall threat down into specific pieces. Our capital city is located in a sub-watershed called the Red, and the direst threats to its health are pollution, habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, and overuse of water.
Travel to the heart of our city and you can actually witness the first three threats occurring. The Parker Wetlands & Aspen Forest, the only significant green space in the West Fort Garry/Beaumont neighborhood, is currently under siege. The site of a new transit route, much of the wetland is being laid waste by heavy equipment, which is dirtying and draining the water, as well as fragmenting and destroying habitat.
The remaining 42 acres of forest and wetland is slated to be sacrificed to a housing development. “Developing” this area would exacerbate the already profound threats to our watershed.
As you know, wetlands may not look like much but they play a crucial role in our environment. Often referred to as “nature’s kidneys,” they remove pollutants including agricultural runoff from our water. They also prevent flooding by sopping up excess water, which they hold onto during drought. As if that wasn’t enough, wetlands also reduce greenhouse gases, an astonishing ability we must appreciate if we are serious about coping with climate change.
Yet in spite of these super-powers, wetlands have received so little love that Ducks Unlimited Canada estimates that on the prairies, up to 90% of our wetlands have been sacrificed to agricultural drainage, urbanization, and resource extraction. This makes the Parker Wetlands & Aspen Forest an exceedingly unique and precious place, one we need to move quickly and decisively to protect. To do otherwise would be a crime against our environment and our citizenry, as well as a denial of the fact that water is life.
The Parker Wetlands & Aspen Forest is home to myriad wild creatures including whitetail deer, foxes, frogs and toads, a great horned owl, a family of Cooper’s Hawk, swallowtail butterflies, milkweed, yellow lady-slippers, the mysterious bottle gentian, and big bluestem (as well as vestiges of both Mixed-grass and Tall grass prairie ecosystems), to name only a fraction of the population. In March the tracks of a short-tailed weasel were spotted, and recently a Canada warbler and a whip-poor-will, both classified in Manitoba as Threatened under The Endangered Species and Ecosystems Act, were observed.
As well as providing habitat, the Parker Wetlands & Aspen Forest offers people an escape from the hustle and bustle of our urban environment. It is a place to experience the restorative practice known in Japan as “forest bathing.” Walk the trails, breathe the sweet air, listen to the trill of the red-winged blackbird, and you will depart renewed.
Recognizing how fortunate Winnipeg is to possess this irreplaceable wetland workhorse, many citizens have signed petitions, written to politicians at all levels of government, pleaded with city council, and rallied to save it. You might think it wouldn’t be difficult to get governments onside; after all, in its Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, the Government of Canada states, “Forests, wetlands, and agricultural lands across Canada will play an important natural role in a low-carbon economy by absorbing and storing atmospheric carbon… Protecting and restoring natural areas, including wetlands, can also benefit biodiversity…”
However, although we have spent eight years fighting for our green jewel, those in power have consistently failed to take any substantial action to save it and every day we face the possibility that the developer will bulldoze it. If, despite the work of activists like Maude Barlow and David Suzuki, we didn’t know it before, the WWF-C’s Watershed Report sums up our situation neatly: now that we know better, it is imperative that we do better.
We need to end the threat to the Parker Wetlands & Aspen Forest right now, and protect our green space in perpetuity, but we can't do it alone. PLEASE help us preserve our wetland, protect our watershed, and ensure clean water for all!
To learn more about the Parker Wetlands & Aspen Forest and the Conservation Committee, please visit http://www.parkerwetlands.doodlekit.com/ or follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ParkerWetlandsConservation/
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