Day 2 of the Harper Creek shoreline project

The People Behind the Project

I know that it is never wise to try and thank all of the people who make a project possible because there is always the risk of missing someone, and unfortunately it is the same with pictures.  For instance, I don’t have a picture of our photographer Gina Varrin, or of Sheila Nabigon-Howlett from the Council of Canadians who sat at the information table on Friday afternoon, of J.B. Jaboor who fixed our anchor driver, or of my husband Mark who helped with so many of the logistics, but had to work elsewhere during the two days of the project.

However, pictures are fun and they tell the story, so with apologies to those whose lovely countenances are missing from this post, on with the story….

Day Two

The day started with transporting our 97 native shrubs the short distance from the Zippel house over to the site: two trips in the back of Roy Perdue’s truck!  With the shrubs unloaded, and grouped into species, the next step was to set up our student volunteer, Megan Krempa, at the information table.  Megan remained diligently at her post greeting the public and handing out information making it possible for the rest of us to disappear behind the trees where the final coir logs were installed, and the majority of shrubs planted.

Future environmental scientist, Megan Krempa, educates the public on the many benefits of choosing native plants for their gardens. (Photo by Gina Varrin)

Before getting down to business, Gina had us pause for a group photo where we discovered that saying the word ‘creek’ makes you smile: imagine that! 

One, two, three…say Creeeeek!
(Photo by Gina Varrin)

As promised, the day began with a demonstration of the techniques involved in installing coir logs to reestablish the stream bank.  Lauren Sharkey, CSSP coordinator, instructed the

group and HPSI member, Thomas Muller, was quick to volunteer his assistance and pick up a new skill.

Lauren uses the ‘pile driver’ tool to hammer the anchor into the upstream portion of the bank. By placing the anchor upstream, less movement of the log occurs when the strong currents, that occur following a rain event, force the steel tether in the downstream direction. (Photo by Kim Zippel)
Thomas installs the second anchor as Lauren secures the cable by weaving it around the coir log. (Photo by Kim Zippel)

And then the planting team swung into action

Gina called this shot “many hands” as she captured the action on the south bank Saturday morning. (Photo by Gina Varrin)
Fleming College student, Lacie Martin, cuts and separates the mesh of the erosion blanket to prepare a planting spot for a new shrub. (Photo by Kim Zippel)
Michelle Young prepares a spot for a Speckled Alder, one of the larger specimens to be planted near the Pinewood Drive reach of Harper Creek. (Photo by Kim Zippel)
Harper Creek flows directly behind Frank VanHorssen’s Fortye Drive home. Frank stopped by the project site to see what our project was all about on Friday, and then generously spent his afternoon helping install logs and prepare the site for planting. Just as we got started Saturday morning, Frank appeared with his wheel barrow, set to dig in for another day. It was wonderful to have a creekside resident so enthusiastic about remediating the stream and we really appreciated his help and local knowledge. (Photo by Kim Zippel).

After planting, the next step was to apply mulch to the site.  We had hoped to use the trees chipped on Friday, but City forester, Scott Keller, wisely advised against this as the Buckthorn berries would create future problems if we used the chips generated at the site. So, City of Peterborough Utility Services staff graciously supplied us with clean chips.  The wood chip mulch will help protect the new shrubs by reducing evaporation (important for shrubs planted away from the stream), suppressing weeds and marking planting sites when lawn mowing occurs.

The City of Peterborough donated 3.5 yards of wood chips to the project. As the project site is on municipal property, the assistance of Councillor Lesley Parnell, in contacting and guiding us to the correct City Departments, was invaluable. As can be seen above, Lesley (left) also “chipped in” with help on the day of the project, planting and mulching all Saturday morning. (Photo by Gina Varrin)

Early Signs of Change


Clearing away the European Buckthorn and Manitoba Maples made significant changes to the canopy.  Several native species, already in situ, will now flourish with diminished competition for nutrients, and more access to light.  Red Osier Dogwood, Common Elderberry and Sugar Maple were revealed following clearing of stream side invasive species.  

Newly planted shrubs will flourish along the banks of Harper Creek and will soon shade the stream with overhanging branches. (Photo by Kim Zippel)

We were all surprised with how rapidly the stream regained a riffle/pool physiography.  This reach had become a silent flow of water wending its way through dense emergent vegetation.  With defined banks reestablished, the flow has already increased and the sound of rippling water can be heard once again. The increased flow will also bring about changes  in sediment transport and deposition as the stream, once again, finds its own course.

Sediment removal has already revealed a stream bed of small pebbles. (Photo by Kim Zippel)
As the creek substrate changes from heavy sediment to a more coarsely pebbled bottom, the green frog (Rana clamitans) population will benefit as the predominately worm based benthic population diversifies to include a wider variety of invertebrates, and hence prey species, for tadpoles and adults alike. Newly planted shrubs will also attract terrestrial species such as spiders, caterpillars, butterflies and moths that will be of particular interest to adults, such as the little green frog above, who emerged from hiding shortly after volunteers left for the day. (Photo by Kim Zippel)

Monitoring Change

We will be observing changes to this reach of Harper Creek by recording monthly temperatures and by documenting evolution of the creek through photographic evidence.  In addition, monitoring of shrub survival will allow the HPSI to assess the need for additional plantings in the future.  Established native plants, such as the Common Elderberry in the left field of the picture below, will be recorded. Also of great interest will be any regeneration of native species that may emerge from the seed bank lying beneath the recently disturbed soil of the stream side.  Both Solomon’s Seal and Equisetum species were noted in small numbers following clearing of taller herbaceous plants such as golden rod.

Information on creek changes will also come from the community as adjacent land owners have shown a great deal of interest in the project and the impact it will have in years to come.  Thus, the citizen science aspect of this project will prove financially beneficial to the City of Peterborough and Otonabee Conservation as HPSI members, and adjacent landowners, will provide project follow-up and monitoring.

Reflected light at sunset reveals curves and swerves regained. (Photo by Kim Zippel)