In the wake of Hurricane Fiona, which wreaked havoc across Prince Edward Island in September 2022, the community of Slemon Park near Summerside was among the hardest hit regions. With sustained winds exceeding 90 kilometres per hour, the storm felled 80% of Slemon Park’s old-growth trees, severely altering the landscape of this small community.
On October 12th, staff from Bedeque Bay Environmental Management Association (BBEMA), Slemon Park Corporation and a local grade 7 class embarked on a mission to restore tree canopy in this area. Together they planted 560 trees of different sizes along a nature trail, 165 of which were funded by Tree Canada’s Treemendous Communities grant program and project sponsor, Wawanesa Insurance.
The Aftermath of Hurricane Fiona
The destruction of Slemon Park’s trees was felt deeply by the community, as they provided shade, beauty, and a sense of connection to nature.
Brown says that the loss of old trees disrupted the ecosystem, leaving local wildlife without their natural habitats. “We would [usually] have birds and [other wildlife] building their nests, and this spring there wasn’t any. And so, we really wanted to make sure that we put some trees back.”
Replanting Slemon Park
The Bedeque Bay Environmental Management Association is a not-for-profit organization that works with community partners to protect the natural resources of the Bedeque Bay Watershed. In the fall of 2022, they applied to Tree Canada’s grant program to help replant a variety of native tree species, suited to the local climate and ecosystem of Slemon Park.
“Slemon Park is located on an old military base. When the military pulled out, they left all the residential housing that the military people lived in. And so, this area was purchased by Slemon Park.”
With a population comprised of mostly seniors and young low-income families, BBEMA’s goal was to enhance the community without putting any burden on the tenants that live there.
BBEMA also prioritized planting the trees in the right spots around the community. “We did a walk around [with Slemon Park Corporation] and asked them, where did you lose the most trees, where can we impact the most people? And so, we selectively picked where were wanted to put these trees, so they could provide the most benefits.”
Tracy Brown emphasized that the tree planting effort is ongoing, with plans for continuous planting over the next few years. Some of the seniors who lost large trees had the opportunity to have 20-gallon trees planted in their front yards.
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