The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) is the oldest and largest nonprofit, non-government fish and wildlife conservation organization in Canada. In 2006, the OFAH lead the development of a multi-organization partnership – the Lake Ontario Atlantic Salmon Restoration Program (LOASRP) – whose goal is to restore a self-sustaining population of Atlantic Salmon to Lake Ontario.
The native population of Atlantic Salmon has been extirpated (locally extinct) from Lake Ontario since the 1890s, primarily due to habitat loss from farming and development on the streams that adult Atlantic Salmon return to each fall to spawn and is nursery habitat for the young salmon.
Tree and shrub planting is essential to the health and survival of many sensitive coldwater aquatic species in the watersheds of the Great Lakes. By the end of the 19th century, tree cover was down to 3-4% of its pre-European settlement level on many streams in Southern Ontario. Trees shade the creek, decreasing temperatures, and their roots stabilize the stream bank, reducing erosion. Tree branches, leaves and roots slow down rain, allowing it to be absorbed into the water table and slowly released back into the stream, improving late summer base flow water levels. This is extremely important for migrating fish such as the Atlantic Salmon that enter streams in the summer to spawn in the fall.
The OFAH engages citizens to plant trees, thus empowering communities with a sense of ownership of the health of their watersheds. These plantings will raise awareness of the importance of watershed health to not only fish, but humans, as we to require a clean, abundant supply of drinking water. From 2006 to 2013 LOASRP volunteers helped plant over 55,000 trees and shrubs. We have seen early signs of success, and are pleased to report small numbers of returning adults and wild juveniles in some tributaries already.
In 2014, the OFAH will host six TD Tree Days events across the LOASRP target tributaries of Duffins Creek (Durham Region), Humber River (Toronto/Bolton), Credit River (Halton Region/Peel Region) and Bronte Creek (Burlington). We hope you will join us as we continue work to restore these important watersheds.