As part of a series of environmental projects being carried out on Markdale’s Armstrong Creek, Grey Highlands council has granted over $24,000 to assist Trout Unlimited Canada to build a trail along the river.
Trout Unlimited recently acquired grant funding to improve the banks and wetland area along the creek, and in Town Pond as part of their restoration work.
The group planned to build a trail along the former dam site, running along the stream to Rotary Park, but they had not yet received funding for this aspect of the project.
Given council’s approval on Jan. 19, funding for the trail is set to come out of the municipality’s parkland reserve fund.
Though there is no hard date for the trail's completion, it is set to be built in conjunction with Trout Unlimited's restoration work, which is scheduled to be finished by the end of March.
“It’s absolutely beautiful down there,” said CAO Karen Govan. “It's going to be such a tremendous addition not only to Markdale but as part of our trail system, and the overall aspect of getting people outside.”
The town has also expressed interest in working with Trout Unlimited to extend the trail around the stream to complete a loop.
“I can't wait to see the unveiling of the trail and how that's going to look, and we're hoping in the future that it'll kind of loop around and go across the bridge and around the other side,” Govan said.
Govan said that the municipality plans on carrying out additional environmental work on the pond in the future as well.
“We were successful in getting a grant from TD Bank – TD has a green program for planting trees,” Govan said. “We're looking at planting a lot of trees in the area and perhaps even having benches and maybe picnic areas.”
The Grey Highlands chapter of Trout Unlimited, Happy Trout, will be involved with seeding and planting trees in the area as well as with the improvements to the creek and pond.
Their current work is part of a multi-organizational effort to restore and protect the river's ecosystem.
In 2019, the local group helped with installing a fish culvert along Armstrong Creek, giving brook trout increased access to the river, which serves as ideal spawning grounds for the trout due to its cold temperature.
In 2017, they helped with removing a dam along the river, which had been in place to create a swimming reservoir, to increase its connectivity and reduce impediments for brook trout and other species of fish as well.
Located within the Saugeen Watershed, Armstrong Creek is one of the largest cold water tributaries in southern Ontario and is instrumental for the health of the native brook trout population.