40 Years – 40 Trees

Gina Pannunzio, Stephanie Marshall and Ian Naisbitt

“Trees indeed have hearts.”

~Henry David Thoreau

Essex County Nature and the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) created a tree planting project to help the WindsorEssex Community Foundation (WECF) celebrate their 40th Anniversary. Our idea was to plant 40 native trees in a natural area or park in the Detroit River Watershed. Gina and I filled out the WECF application form for funding and we were successful → 40 Years – 40 Trees was a GO!

“A tree is our most intimate contact with nature.”

~George Nakashima

We contacted the City of Windsor through the Parks Department and requested their help in finding an appropriate site for planting. After meeting at Derwent Park in East Windsor, it was agreed the plan would work there. It would include a grove of trees at the north end of the future perimeter trail and trees would be planted alongside the trail as it followed the perimeter fence. We scheduled Saturday, 13 May, 2023 for the event.

“Walk in nature and feel the healing power of the trees.”

~A. William

There were 45 community volunteers that included: children, their parents and grandparents, the staff and Board members of ERCA and the WindsorEssex Community Foundation. They planted 40 very large native trees. How large were they you ask, the largest trees we have ever planted! What a surprise it was to see them all planted and they looked fantastic, you could see every one of them, even the ones on the other side of the park. Fortunately for us the City had the holes for the trees augured beforehand. Refilling the holes with soil and mulching the base of the trees had us on our hands and knees. Our Community Partnership included: City of Windsor, Essex County Nature, Essex Region Conservation Authority, Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario, How To Volunteers, Rotary Club and the WindsorEssex Community Foundation. Some of the species of trees we planted were: Red Maple, Burr Oak, Downy Serviceberry, American Elm, and Honey Locust.

“Touching the Earth compares to having Harmony with Nature.”

~Lakota Proverb

Two Weather forecasts:

  • Mainly cloudy. High 24 C. Humidex 25. UV index 9 or very high.
  • High 24 C. UV 3 out of 10. Slight 15% chance of a rain shower.

Winds 10 to 15 km/h. Mr. Beaufort calls that a “light to gentle breeze.”

As it turned out, the weather was great for tree planting. A few sprinkles, nothing major and the temps did reach the low twenties, our brows were damp with sweat.  

“Those who plant trees love others besides themselves.”

~Thomas Fuller

The WECF 40th Anniversary Commemorative Trees will benefit our community:

  • First and foremost, these trees will help address two critical issues of today, climate change and biodiversity. The trees will help combat climate change by absorbing and storing the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. They will also provide shelter and food for the biodiversity of the wildlife that live in the Detroit River Watershed. There are several Species at Risk in the Windsor-Essex Region that will use woodlands to survive and breed
  • Urban trees will improve air quality by releasing oxygen back into the air. They will clean the air by filtering and trapping dust, pollen and other tiny particles in their leaves, branches and trunk bark.
  • Trees retain stormwater runoff by breaking rainfall thus allowing the water to flow down their branches and trunks to be absorbed by the earth below. This prevents stormwater runoff from carrying pollutants to the Detroit River. Trees act like a sponge that filters this water naturally and uses it to recharge groundwater supplies.
  • The 40th Anniversary Grove will have a cooling effect on the land and air shaded by the future canopy provided by these trees

“All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Most meaningfully, trees naturally add spiritual value to a local community.

The connection humans have with trees touches the soul. Essentially, trees make people feel good. City dwellers value the view of a tree outside their windows.

Urban trees calm people during their commute to work. The WECF’s Commemorative Grove will help to improve the mental health of the people who visit this peaceful, natural setting and reflect on their life with the help of the trees.

“Listen to the voice of nature, for it holds treasures for you.”

~Huron Proverb

Our project will create a legacy in the Windsor-Essex Region. Mature trees will be spreading their seeds over time and eventually nature will select which species will survive on the site. Despite insect infestations, diseases or major storms, some of the trees in the grove will live for hundreds of years. Naturalisation will run its course and the 40 trees will disperse their seeds and the natural area will live on in perpetuity.

“Listen to her – our Earth, our Mother; listen to what she is saying.”

~Mohawk Proverb

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, we have planted 40 more trees to help heal Mother Earth.

“Nature is never a place to get to, it is around us always, it is our home.”

~Lakota Proverb

We acknowledge that the Detroit River Watershed is in the traditional and ancestral territory of The Three Fires Confederacy of First Nations, which includes the Ojibwa, the Odawa and the Potawatomi Peoples. We recognise that Indigenous Peoples had an original connection with their ancestral land. 

We are dedicated to learning about and helping First Nations to protect, preserve and restore their ancestral lands and waters. We value and respect the contributions and relationships of the Indigenous Peoples in their ancestral territory.

Volunteers clean up Detroit River watersheds

April 17, 2023

Media Release

For Immediate Release

Volunteers clean up Detroit River watersheds

Windsor, ON – On Saturday, April 15, 2023, volunteers from across the region came together to participate in two litter cleanups in the Detroit River watershed. In total, 519.82 kg (about 1146.01 lb) or 0.52 metric tonnes of litter was removed from the Detroit River shoreline and Little River watershed.

“Litter cleanups are imperative to the Windsor-Essex region, as waste can persist in the environment and negatively impact green spaces and waterways for a long time,” said Tom Henderson, Chair of the Detroit River Canadian Cleanup Public Advisory Council. “Every item of litter that is removed from our watersheds and shorelines and disposed of safely means there is one less item in the environment that can harm local fish and wildlife populations.” 

In Sandwich, the Windsor Port Authority, Rotary Club of LaSalle Centennial and its Youth Interact Club, HMCS Hunter, UWindsor Alumni, Detroit River Canadian Cleanup Public Advisory Council, City of Windsor, Essex Region Conservation Authority and 65 volunteers removed litter from various properties in Sandwich, Windsor.   

In the Little River watershed, Caesars Windsor CodeGreen, 35th Tecumseh Cubs (Scouts), Deputy Mayor Joe Bachetti of the Town of Tecumseh, MPP Andrew Dowie, Councillor Angelo Marignani, members of the Little River Enhancement Group, Essex Region Conservation Authority, the City of Windsor, the Detroit River Canadian Cleanup and volunteers worked together to remove litter from the tributary, slopes and surrounding Ganatchio Trail.  

Litter and waste removed included single use plastics, take out materials, glass bottles, smoking and drug paraphernalia, an animal skull, a bicycle and bike lock, personal clothing items, an iPOD, fishing line, wires, concrete, shingles, stuffed animals, diapers, COVID19 tests, an old metal car jack, and bricks.  Henderson goes on to caution we should all be mindful of what waste we are producing, and that every effort should be made to dispose of our own litter properly, and never thrown into a waterway.

These cleanups are part of the binational Earth Month stewardship initiatives held by partners of the Detroit River Coalition representing organizations from Canada and the United States. The partners represent a binational environmental resource hub for the purpose of plastic pollution removal & protection of the Detroit River. 

The Detroit River Canadian Cleanup is a community-based partnership between the federal, provincial, and municipal governments, industry, academics, non-government organizations, and concerned citizens. Our main goal is to cleanup, enhance, and sustain the Detroit River ecosystem.


Digital Media Attached: Dozens of volunteers came together to cleanup the Detroit River watershed.

Media Contact:                Paul Drca, Remedial Action Plan Coordinator

                   519-776-5209 x356    drca@detroitriver.ca         

Great Lakes Marsh Monitoring Program – Windsor/Essex Volunteer Orientation

Adopt a wetland route in Windsor-Essex County this spring! Birds Canada in partnership with the City of Windsor and the Essex Region Conservation Authority, are looking for wetland enthusiasts willing to adopt a local marsh and spend about 10 hours per year as a volunteer surveyor of aquatic birds and amphibians. The MMP offers everyone – from amateur naturalists to professional biologists – a unique and rewarding opportunity to help learn about and conserve Great Lakes amphibians and marsh birds, and their threatened habitats.

Come join us on Wednesday April 5th 2023 from 7pm to 8pm to meet Jennifer and Gina, the Regional Coordinators for the program, seasoned surveyors and new volunteers for the season! At this session you will also be able to sign up for your route.

Please note, we recommend watching the Birds Canada webinar on YouTube BEFORE attending this orientation…titled, Is the Great Lakes Marsh Monitoring Program right for you? You can view this on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4G_9Yk5mH0.

Amphibians are surveyed three times: first week of April (or earlier), beginning of May and beginning of June – in the far south west of Ontario these surveys tend to occur earlier than average). Surveys can take a few minutes or a couple of hours depending on the number of stations on that route. Amphibian surveys are a great option for people beginning to participate in Citizen Science surveys.

Bird surveys are conducted two to three times between mid-May and July 5th. Surveys may take as little as 20 minutes or up to 3 hours depending on the number of stations on that route. The majority of bird routes require evening surveys. Bird surveys require additional skill; participants need to be able to identify at least 50 bird species commonly found in marshes (without referring to a field guide). If you are new to bird identification I highly recommend spending at least one season learning first, perhaps with the assistance of apps like Merlin Bird ID or Larkwire.

Commonly volunteers are assigned to a single route near their home (or work) and can choose to survey amphibians, birds or both. All volunteers are asked to ensure simple habitat descriptions are competed on their route annually. Each participant will receive the necessary resources from Bird Studies Canada including training materials, protocols, route information and data forms.

More information

Visit www.birdscanada.org/volunteer/glmmp or contact Kathy Jones at volunteer@birdscanada.org ; 888-448-2473 ext. 124. To learn more about each route visit https://goo.gl/zKB3aJ. and click on the dot for additional information and a route map link.

The Windsor/Detroit/Essex River MMP coordinators are Jennifer Nantais (jennifer.nantais@gmail.com) and Gina Pannunzio (519-776-5209 x 245; GPannunzio@erca.org).

2023 Guide to Eating Ontario Fish

On behalf of the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, we are pleased to inform you that we have released the 2023 fish consumption advisories through the online Guide to Eating Ontario Fish.

We encourage Ontarians to check the fish consumption advisories before they go fishing. This will help them to make informed choices about the types and amounts of fish that are safest to eat from over 2,600 Ontario lakes and rivers.

The updated guide features new and easier-to-use information, including:

  • the sizes and amounts of fish you can safely eat
  • how to quickly and easily choose the safest fish to eat
  • how to best prepare fish
  • special advice for children and people who are pregnant or may become pregnant

The government continues taking action to protect the health of Ontarians and improve the health of lakes and rivers in the province, including the fish that live in these waters.

Thank you for helping us share important information regarding safe fish consumption in Ontario. If you have any questions, please contact: fishguide@ontario.ca

Backyard Stewardship and Habitat Creation

All are welcome to attend the upcoming Backyard Stewardship and Habitat Creation presentation hosted by ERCA and Darlene Bernyk from Native Trees and Plants. This event will take place on Tuesday February 28th from 6pm to 8pm in Committee Room C (second floor) at the Essex Civic Centre, 360 Fairview Avenue, Essex, ON. Currently, the public only has access to the north and west entrances.

Attendees will learn about the importance of gardening with native plants, discover how to source them for their spring projects and learn about best practices for starting, planning and stewarding a sustainable native garden and habitat at home.

Please register in advance via Eventbrite.

For more information, please contact ERCA’s Partnerships and Outreach Coordinator, gpannunzio@erca.org or 519-776-5209 ext. 245.

Get Involved!

From tree plantings and clean ups, to advocacy and education programs, CLICK HERE to find out how you can be involved with protecting and enhancing the Detroit River.