creating a legacy for their community
WRITTEN BY: RICHELLE MARTIN
With a network of over 45 nature preserves across the province, having local volunteer stewards on the ground as the caretakers and experts of these natural spaces is key to ensuring that ecological features are protected and is vital to our work. Each nature preserve has at least one voluntary land steward, with eight having major community involvement in the form of a stewardship group like the “Friends of Ferris Street” in Fredericton.
Over the coming years, we will be devoting more time and resources into the development of stewardship groups. This will include increased collaboration with partners and naturalists to offer site specific training workshops to each group, equipping volunteers with the skills necessary to take on the monitoring of their nature preserve, along with some new citizen science projects.
The Friends of Ferris Street is a perfect example of the power that lies in collaborating with a community group that is passionate about conservation. The group came together in 2012 with the common goal to have the Sunset U-Pick berry fields and surrounding forest and wetland protected from development after it had been re-zoned from green space to residential land. Over the next three years, they campaigned and collected over 5000 petition signatures in support of their cause.
Last year, we became involved when the City of Fredericton agreed to enter into a 10-year license agreement with us to co-manage the land surrounding the berry fields. This ensures that the land will remain green space for at least the next 10 years, as we work together to create awareness for the area to keep it this way. Naturally, the Friends of Ferris Street have become the stewardship group for what is now referred to as the Ferris Street Forest and Wetland Nature Preserve — a 30 acre area of mature mixed forest, Provincially Significant Wetland and riparian zone with approximately 3 km of walking trails.
In the past six months since entering into the agreement with the City, we have received tremendous support and interest from community members. UNB Fredericton’s first year forestry students spent two days on the nature preserve in the fall to complete a forest inventory, an Environmental Management graduate student helped with the development of a management plan, and the Oromocto High School Youth Stewards of the Environment joined us for a tour of the preserve in the fall.
A successful public event with over 30 people was held there on the evening of the full moon in February, which included outdoor yoga led by Moksha Yoga Fredericton, a hike, and some owl interpretation by biologist and wildlife photographer Arielle DeMerchant. The Friends of Ferris Street have also been maintaining the trail system, cleaning up garbage and debris, and have been meeting regularly to help in getting the preserve established. Currently, we are working on completing a trail study with funding received from the Government of New Brunswick’s Trail Infrastructure Fund.
Crandall Engineering is taking the lead on the study, which has involved mapping out all of the trails that currently exist on the preserve, hosting an Open House event to get public feedback on some ideas of trail systems that could be established, reaching out to the neighbours of the preserve, and summarizing their findings and recommendations in a report. At the same time, we are also wrapping up a fundraiser for the preserve, with just $2,600 remaining to reach our $20,000 goal for stewardship funds for the property.
Specifically, in December and January, we were able to raise close to $6000 for Ferris Street through an online crowdfunding campaign made possible by Small Change Fund and the Aveda Atlantic Water Fund. This was a fantastic opportunity to raise funds and awareness for the project and was greatly promoted and supported by the Friends of Ferris Street.
Thank you to all who contributed to the campaign. All that was accomplished would not have been possible without the leadership and passion of the Friends of Ferris Street.