Hundreds of trees felled near Mud Lake to be replaced, NCC tells residents

The National Capital Commission has told residents near Mud Lake it will replant hundreds of trees cut down to fight the emerald ash borer.

NCC will also clean up trees damaged in wind storm last summer

Residents near Mud Lake are concerned with the way the National Capital Commission cut down hundreds of trees and left behind debris and wood chips. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

The National Capital Commission has told residents near Mud Lake in Ottawa's west end that it will replant hundreds of trees cut down to fight the emerald ash borer, and finally deal with other trees felled during a wind storm last summer.

The NCC made the promise at an evening meeting organized by Ottawa–West Nepean MP Anita Vandenbeld in response to constituent concerns about the trees that were cut down along two of the main paths in the conservation area.

Daniel Brunton, a lifelong user and advocate for Mud Lake, near Britannia Beach in west Ottawa, was among the two dozen residents who raised concerns about the rationale for cutting so many trees and leaving thick piles of wood debris.

"It looked like pulled pork barbecue," he said. "What I saw was nationally significant natural habitat being treated like the shoulder of a southern American interstate."

The NCC says the 60-hectare site includes 269 bird species, 44 rare and 15 uncommon plant species and wildlife species at risk.

Daniel Brunton holds pieces of wood he found in Mud Lake after the trees were cut. He said they include elm and not ash trees. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Brunton also raised the issue of the future of the park and its pathways.

He said the cutting had effectively created a new path that would need to be filled with stone according to NCC policies.

"The damage is long-term," Brunton said. 

"You can't just plant a bunch of ginkgo trees and suddenly, it's going to be nice next summer. It's going to take a decade or more — at least."

Plan to re-plant

Marc Corriveau, the NCC's director of urban lands for Ontario and the Greenbelt, said the controversy seemed to focus on a swath of 200 trees near the eastern trails that were cleared for safety reasons.

Corriveau said 75 local native trees will be planted soon with the help of the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority, along with 200 shrubs in the next week.

In the fall and next spring, he said more trees will be planted and that will speed up recovery.

"Our intention is if we cut one tree we will be replanting one tree and we are dedicated to our protocol," Corriveau said.

"That's something we will be doing on that site." 

Marc Corriveau, NCC director of urban lands for Ontario and the Greenbelt, attended a meeting organized with concerned residents by Ottawa West-Nepean MP Anita Vandenbeld. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Some residents said they were concerned the wood chips would be a fire hazard for the park.

Corriveau said most of that material will be removed.

"That's one of their concerns, but again we have to look at that balance," he said.

"There will still be stumps and logs that will be left on that site, that is very good for ecosystems and biodiversity."

The NCC told the meeting it would work to solve the consultation problems that were exposed in the process.