Alan Hansell gave an eye opening presentation on the Cootes Watershed. What is it? Why is it important? Why should we all have an interested in ensuring its future?
Stewards of Cootes Watershed is a neighborhood-based team of stewards, each responsible for ensuring the health and biodiversity of a section of Cootes Paradise and the creeks that flow into it. The Stewards goal is to educate local residents about the Cootes Watershed and inspire them to take steps to improve our watershed’s health. It is also to bring the Cootes Marsh back to the condition that it once was. 
Cootes Marsh has been a nature sanctuary since 1927 and it is a bird migratory route. The marsh has garnered international recognition for its variety of amphibians and reptiles. In fact, the entire west end of Lake Ontario is dependent on Cootes Paradise.
Over 100 years of neglect to the Cootes Watershed are being reversed by the Stewards of Cootes Watershed. In the past 4 years, Project Paradise has resulted in over 4000 bags of garbage being collected. That’s not all…additionally 546 automobile tires, 37 000 lbs of metal, 50 shopping carts, and even a ladies makeup bag containing an old gun were recovered. This rubbish posed a significant health risk to all animals that depend on the Watershed for survival and unfortunately many creatures died over the years as a result.
Project Paradise has resulted in significant improvements to Cootes Paradise including the first nesting pair of Bald Eagles this end of Lake Ontario, Chinook salmon spawning in Spencer’s Creek has doubled in size, and 250,000 Spottail shiner minnows have also been found spawning.
Stewards of Cootes are always looking for volunteers from March to December. The organization plans 137 separate cleanup events. Alan says that they are close to being able to say that Spencer Creek is the cleanest it’s been in 150 years. 
Says Alan, “We will remove every piece of garbage no matter how large…how small…or how complicated!"