Students, Stewardship Rangers, take part in annual M’Chigeeng Creek cleanup

An assembly line of Stewardship Rangers helped to haul small rocks from the Mindemoya River.

M’CHIGEENG—For the last three years, Grade 8 students at Lakeview School have been helping to clean up the M’Chigeeng Creek, assisting the Manitoulin Streams team with stream rehabilitation and getting a first hand look at the work of Stewardship Rangers.

Late last month, 15 members of the Grade 8 class had an in-class session with Manitoulin Streams, learning of the work they were about to undertake and the kinds of in-stream rehabilitation that Manitoulin Streams does. The following week, 15 students, 10 Windy Lake Provincial Park Stewardship Rangers and five Sudbury District Stewardship Rangers got to work on the M’Chigeeng Creek.

Lakeview Students work at clearing the M’Chigeeng Creek of debris, including tires.
Lakeview Students work at clearing the M’Chigeeng Creek of debris, including tires.

Seija Deschenes, Manitoulin Streams project coordinator, explained to The Expositor that the M’Chigeeng Creek is a substantial creek that flows throughout M’Chigeeng proper and feeds into both West Bay (behind Lillian’s Crafts) and Lake Mindemoya.

For the last three years, the students have undertaken a portion of the creek, clearing it of debris and large rocks and learning firsthand the elements of stream rehab. Ms. Deschenes said that an entire dump truck full of cobble and rubble was removed from the river, thanks to an assembly line formed by the students and Rangers, passing up large rocks or pails of smaller rocks.

This year the group built up rock ‘wing deflectors,’ which help to regulate the speed of the flow of the stream, in turn scouring it out and clearing the water of large gravel. This, Ms. Deschenes explained, gives salmon and rainbow trout clean spawning gravel.

The students also installed a weeping weir, a C-shaped rock formation that also helps to increase the water movement, and planted 150 trees along the shoreline.

Interesting items the students found include a children’s bicycle and even a tire or two.

Considering the length of the M’Chigeeng Creek, Ms. Deschenes explained that it is still a few years away from being fully restored. While hard at work, the students received a visit from Chief Linda Debassige who praised their work and what it means for the health of the community while Lakeview Principal Neil Debassige shot video with a drone. This footage may be included in a future edition of Fuel the Fire TV.

The strangest things are pulled from the M’Chigeeng Creek,  including this children’s bicycle.
The strangest things are pulled from the M’Chigeeng Creek, including this children’s bicycle.

While the Windy Lake Provincial Park Stewardship Rangers were here, Manitoulin Streams enlisted their help with the Mindemoya River restoration work, clearing up two significant log jams that had constricted the flow of the water. Ms. Deschenes noted that the cause of one of the jams was a footbridge that had been swept downstream. Maria Diebolt and Mike Laende of Manitoulin Tree Service also assisted with Ms. Diebolt yielding her chainsaw to cut the bridge and logs into smaller, more manageable pieces.

The in-water work on this year’s Mindemoya Stream restoration project was completed as of August 31 with shoreline work, such as sloping and tree planting to commence.

Last week saw Manitoulin Streams, in partnership with Central Manitoulin, undertake the annual dredging of the Mindemoya River at Providence Bay, allowing for the annual salmon spawn to take place.