One very special thing we can all do for wildlife is to guard our wetlands as though they were the crown jewels. In a way, they are just as precious. These special soggy places provide homes for millions of living things and, at the same time, pour lots of dollars into the Canadian economy.
Manufacturers and merchants of sporting goods, such as boats, canoes, motors, binoculars, field guides, camera equipment, fishing tackle, firearms, and outdoor clothing receive a lot of money from people who use wetlands. So do owners of cafes, motels, and gas stations who serve visitors to wetlands in northern forests and prairie grasslands, provincial parks or sea-coast villages. A1980 survey estimated at least $8 billion is spent each year in the Canadian recreation industry thanks to water!
In agriculture, fishing, mining, manufacturing, and the power-generating industries, where water plays a big part, about $67 billion is produced annually for Canada, according to the survey.
And of course, it's impossible to put a price on the value of canoeing silently through reeds on a misty spring morning. Or the sight of Canada geese splash-landing on to a marsh during a crisp fall sunset.
*A Sign of the Times
Post no-dumping signs at your adopted spot or any watery places in your community used by the public. The signs could say something like "Litter Kills Wildlife — Please, No Dumping." Make sure you have the property owner's permission.
For your signs, use wood, such as cedar, that resists weathering. Cedar and other softwoods are easy to work with.
Whatever project you decide to do, make a media event of it. Otters and osprey can't spread the word about how wetlands help wildlife—but you certainly can! Contact local radio, television, or newspapers with your plans. Write a brief news release outlining project details. Stress the importance of safeguarding our waters for wildlife. Always include a contact person's name and phone number and the name of your school.
Don't forget to pass on your project plans through school and school board newsletters. And ask your teachers to use their network publications, too.
Scrutinize a Shoreline
You can learn a lot about water problems by studying an ocean shore, a river-bank, a stream-bank, or a city beach. You can identify areas of healthy habitat, areas where habitat is somewhat damaged, and areas of severe habitat pollution. With your findings, you can prepare a map of the shoreline to show how it could be better managed for wildlife.
First, prepare a hand-drawn map of the area you want to study. The map should show the outline of the waterway, including landmarks such as roads, buildings, or farms. For larger lakes and rivers, the base map can be copied from topographic maps available from the Canada Map Office, Energy, Mines and Resources Canada, 615 Booth Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0E9; telephone (613) 952-7000.
*Youngsters at Wood Lake School, Winfield, B.C., improved a riparian zone between the schoolyard and creek to stop erosion and allow Kokanee salmon to move upstream to spawn in clean water.*
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