Mill Creek Stewardship Rangers work through the hot summer to maintain the creek as a cold water stream.

Although 2015 may have been the warmest year on record,  the Friends on Mill Creek (FOMC) and the Mill Creek Stewardship Rangers are doing their best to ensure that Mill Creek remains a cold water stream which provides a home for trout, dace and other coldwater species. Every summer since 2003, the FOMC have supported a crew of four high school students and a crew leader who work to maintain and improve Mill Creek, a groundwater fed cold-water stream which originates in the uplands and woodlands/wetlands of Puslinch Township and winds for more than 30 km through the Township before joining the  Grand River in Cambridge. The 2015 Stewardship Rangers crew consisted of  Cambridge residents, Evan De Melo and Mitch Walker, and Guelph residents  Drew Huggins and Sam Neumann, with returning University of Guelph student, Adam Riggi, as crew leader. Supervision and technical guidance was provided by Robert Messier and Crystal Allan of the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA).

Again this year, the Rangers’ program focused on habitat improvement and stream rehabilitation of Mill Creek but also included training and education. On both Mill Creek and a tributary steam, the Rangers worked on removing wood and other debris obstructing the stream and then using it to re-configure a more natural channel. At the end of the summer, the Rangers were introduced to electrofishing, a fish sampling technique in which a weak direct electric current is used to attract and temporarily immobilize fish for easy capture and release. When they used electrofishing to sample the stretch they had worked on over the summer, the Rangers collected and released a dozen brown trout and several other species of cold water fish. The Rangers also helped in removing two beaver dams which were interfering with stream monitoring instruments and participated in the annual Mill Creek Clean up at Soper Park in Cambridge.

The Ranger`s first week started with safety and CPR training at the GRCA and  ended with a streamside lecture by Jack Imhof, National Biologist with Trout Unlimited Canada on  the unique history and characteristics of Mill Creek. In mid-July, the Rangers applied their newfound knowledge and experience to help young campers collect and identify critters from the stream and surrounding grassland at Shades Mills Conservation Area during the Alison and Fiddlesticks Neighbourhood Associations` Junior Camper Days. Their enrichment days also included tours of the University of Guelph`s Hagen Aqua Lab, the Nestle Water Plant, Dufferin Aggregate operations and the CBM Aggregates aquaculture operation in a former gravel pit. At the end of August, the Rangers presented a summary of their summer’s work to the Friends and their supporters at the  FOMC ‘s Annual Barbecue.

Over the summer, the Rangers were also nourished by delicious lunches donated by local restaurants. They included The Sunset Villa Danish Restaurant, A Change of Pace Restaurant. The Aberfoyle Mill and The Village Family Restaurant.

The Mill Creek Student Rangers Program is supported by the Friends of Mill Creek, a volunteer, community-based organization dedicated to maintaining and enhancing the Mill Creek watershed.  The Ranger program is funded through generous donations from local community members, businesses and organizations. The Friends of Mill Creek acknowledges and thanks our partners who contribute their time, money, expertise and equipment to help us achieve our goals. Our partners included:  Aberfoyle AquaScience, Benson Tire, Brenda Law, Car-Store Automotive Inc., City of Cambridge, County of Wellington, Dufferin Aggregates (a division of Holcim (Canada) Inc.), Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Grand River Conservation Authority, Grand River Conservation Foundation, Halltech Aquatic Research Inc., LRG Environmental, Michelle Cassar, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Nestle Waters Canada, North-South Environmental, Optimist Club of Puslinch, Cam Percy, Sovereign Fusion Inc, Steed and Evans Limited, Township of Puslinch, Wellington County  Stewardship Council and the WSP Group.

Planning for next year’s program for Mill Creek is already underway. The Friends are open to anyone who can spare a few hours, and shares our passion for protecting this precious resource for future generations and in helping to develop the next generation of conservationists. We meet at the Puslinch Community Centre at 3:30 pm on the third Wednesday of every month.