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Non-profit, volunteers planting trees along N.B.'s Nashwaak River to help prevent future flooding

The Nashwaak Watershed Association and a group of volunteers spent their day Thursday planting about 300 silver maple trees in Neil's Flats, N.B., in an effort to prevent flooding in the future.

"Where we're standing right now, in the spring, I would be completely under water, and I'm six-feet tall, so that gives you an idea that, for many weeks at a time, it's a flood plain here,” said Marieka Chaplin,  the executive director of the Nashwaak Watershed Association -- a non-profit organization in New Brunswick.

According to the organization, the area of Neil’s Flats was once clear-cut for farmland. Now, reforesting the area is necessary to reduce flooding.

"It's a critical strategy for combating climate change, specifically flooding,” said Simon Mitchell, the vice president of Resilient Habitats at WWF Canada.

“So, by planting silver maples in this case, you're getting the right tree in the right place for the right reason, and the trees help to stabilize the bank,” Mitchell said.

Volunteers say they came out to plant for many reasons Thursday.

Randall Haslett's house has flooded several times and he hopes the new trees will prevent that experience for someone else in the future.

"There's nothing worse than coming home and your house smells of sewer, and backwater and dirt,” Haslett said.

Ahead of this flood season, the Nashwaak Watershed Association planted 11,000 trees in Neil’s Flats.

"The reforestation work of the riparian forest just up the river here has dramatically reduced the amount of flooding,” said William Millar who came out to plant trees.

“It used to come all over the trail, but in recent years, the silver maples have been stabilizing the bank and have really been helping mitigate some of the flooding."

The organization's goal is to plant 24,000 trees in total -- most of which will be silver maple.

"At maturity, (silver maple) will absorb 220 litres of water per hour,” Mitchell said.

“So, its taking it out of the river system, which hopefully, if we have enough trees planted and we're doing this at a large enough scale, we can minimize the amount of water that's ending up across the landscape and in peoples homes and businesses,” he said.

The Nashwaak Watershed Association is inviting people to come out and volunteer for their next planting event Tuesday.

"We want to bring people along with it because if people can see the kind of difference this project makes than it's even more valuable,” Chaplin said. Top Stories

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