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Morinville creek planting vandalized … again

Conservation project damaged within hours of completion

By: Kevin Ma

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jun 18, 2014 06:00 am

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Morinville’s mayor says she’s disappointed that vandals have smashed a tree-planting site near Little Egg Creek less than a day after it was completed.

Morinville residents discovered last week that someone had uprooted about 60 of the 120 trees, shrubs and plants planted along the shores of Little Egg Creek less than 24 hours after they had been put into the ground.

The plants were part of an ongoing effort by the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology’s (NAIT) Sturgeon River Research Project to restore riparian vegetation along local waterways. This year’s planting was also part of the town’s Incredible Edibles project and featured edible fruit trees.

About 130 students from Georges H. Primeau and Morinville Community High School, plus town and NAIT staffers, planted the plants in pouring rain and blowing wind on June 9, said Laurie Hunt, a biologist with the Sturgeon research project.

Town community development co-ordinator Allen Jacobson said he discovered the vandalism when he visited at around 10:30 a.m. June 10.

NAIT staffers checked the site on June 11 and found that about half the plants were missing and that the stakes marking the planting site had been uprooted, Hunt said.

“I do feel bad for the students that energetically volunteered and spent their time planting on Monday in the rain,” she said.

Hunt said she does not believe the plants were stolen, and suspects they have been tossed into or over the creek.

Last year’s planting on the creek was also vandalized within days of completion, Hunt noted. This sort of vandalism was very rare – none of NAIT’s other plantings had been hit – and she could not recall any similar incidents at St. Albert plantings.

“It’s a little frustrating.”

Town officials have reported the vandalism to RCMP and local peace officers, Jacobson said. NAIT students have already re-staked the area and will likely replant it later this summer.

“We want this to carry on every year and eventually re-vegetate that entire stream side.”

Town staffers plan to erect a large sign by the planting site to explain its purpose and to conduct more frequent patrols in the area in the future, Jacobson said.

Town Mayor Lisa Holmes questioned the motives of the vandals, noting that this was the second year in a row that the site had been struck.

“We deserve to have beautiful spaces and beautiful parks and trails and we need to come together to support that,” she said.

“It really makes me disappointed that someone was callous enough to do this.”


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