Hundreds of people gathered at the Twin Forks Playground to release 3,500 brook trout into Junction Creek as part of the annual Junction Creek Festival.
Activities and information booths were scattered throughout the park, but the main attraction was the trout trucked in from the Harwood Fish Culture Station in Baltimore, Ont.
Ministry of Natural Resource and Forestry hatchery staff member Brad Kegyes netted small trout into buckets of water for families to personally deposit into Junction Creek.
“The important thing is that everyone does this, it’s not just us doing the work,” Junction Creek Stewardship Committee board member and volunteer Franco Mariotti said between greeting families at the creek. “It’s all Sudburians doing it so they’re empowered to take ownership.”
Dropping trout off at their new home in Junction Creek is a memory children will carry with them for many years to come, he said, adding that in the future, if one of their friends moves to drop a soda can or chip bag in the creek they might stop them.
“It has a tremendous power that they do the work and take ownership,” Mariotti said, adding that there’s a clear parallel between their effort and the regreening program that found countless Sudburians play a role in planting trees in the region.
Today’s fish release was among the largest deposits of trout into the lake for the annual effort yet, he said, adding that for the past 22 years the committee has been striving to restore Junction Creek to its former glory.
Alongside the annual trout release, members join the community in garbage cleanups four or five times per year and have engaged in planting trees around the creek to help keep the temperature cool for fish.
Brook trout were chosen because it’s a species of fish historically known to habitat the creek.
“In fact, we’ve talked to old-timers who used to fish for brook trout right downtown … before all the acid rain hit, when the water quality was good.”
The Twin Forks Playground was full of families during the afternoon event, soaking up the sun and taking part in various activities, including arts activities with Early Childhood Creative Collaborations.
Similar to the trout release itself, artist in residence Sophie Edwards said connecting the art with environmental acts helps establish lifelong commitments among children.
“We learn things in different ways … and the arts can reach different ages and people in different ways,” she said. “In our work we found that when people are engaged creatively with their ecosystems they build different kinds of connections.
For more information on the Junction Creek Stewardship Committee, visit their website at junctioncreek.com/.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.