Do you want to have a role in conserving our natural environment? If so, the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority (GRCA) has numerous ways in which you can help. The Clean Water-Healthy Land Stewardship Program offers many projects, programs and services that are tailored to homeowners, rural property owners, farmers, students and teachers, businesses and service clubs. Anyone, young or old, can do their part to conserve and enhance our local watersheds.

Learn more about...

Clean Water-Healthy Land Financial Assistance Program
Tree Seedling and Planting Program
Trees for Rural Roads
Town of Cobourg Water Conservation Garden
Private Water Well Management
Yellow Fish Road
Volunteer Opportunities
Program Accomplishments
Stewardship Library

Clean Water-Healthy Land Financial Assistance Program

Do you want to do something on your property to conserve, restore or enhance the watershed and environment? Do you need technical assistance or financial resources to complete the project? If so, consider the Clean Water-Healthy Land Financial Assistance Program.GRCA staff can offer environmental technical assistance, tools and information to any resident, business, school or service club within its jurisdiction. Sometimes a helping hand is all that is needed to implement an environmental project. Contact the GRCA Stewardship Technician to learn more.

Financial assistance is also available to those who reside, own property or operate within the Municipality of Clarington (within the GRCA), the Municipality of Port Hope, the Township of Hamilton, and the Town of Cobourg. For more information on financial assistance, view our factsheet. Contact the GRCA Stewardship Technician to apply for funding.

If you are looking for additional funding opportunities, other local or provincial wide funding opportunities may apply to your project idea. In addition, many funding programs can be combined to give you even more access to funding. Some of these programs include:

Growing Forward 2 (for agricultural producers)
Species at Risk Financial Incentive Program
50 Million Tree Program

To learn more about other funding opportunities, contact the GRCA Stewardship Technician. 

Tree Seedling and Planting Program

Have you ever stopped to think how the Ganaraska Forest and other large forest tracts came to be? In today's busy world we tend to take things like forests for granted. We enjoy their beauty, recreational opportunities, cooling effects on hot days, and their timber products, but we never think of the men, women and youth of the past that had the foresight to plant the trees that give us our forests today.

With the help of Edmund Zavitz (1875 - 1968), many local families planted thousands of trees on private lands across Northumberland County and the Regional Municipality of Durham. The original impetus was to control soil erosion on barren lands such as the Oak Ridges Moraine and to mitigate downstream flooding in settlements such as Port Hope. In order to help property owners plant trees and shrubs, and build their family legacy, the GRCA offers different options.

Participating in the GRCA Tree Seedling Program allows property owners to purchase bare root native tree and shrub seedlings at a minimal cost. Seedlings can be ordered in late fall through winter for a spring delivery. The minimum order is 25 seedlings. All seedlings come in bundles of 25. The total cost includes the cost of the seedling, an administrative fee and HST. View our latest tree seedling catalogue. To request a catalogue or to learn more about planting trees, contact the GRCA Stewardship Technician.

If you would like to increase the number of native trees and shrubs on your property, but are unable to plant them yourself, let the GRCA do the hard work for you. Five hundred or more native trees and shrubs can be planted for a fee. A planting plan is developed with your property goals in mind. The total cost to plant a tree varies; however costs include planting stock, hand or machine planting, an administration fee, shipping fee, site preparation, one-time post-planting tending and HST.

To find out more about the GRCA Tree Planting Program or to arrange for your free site visit, contact the GRCA Stewardship Technician.

Funding for tree planting may be available, please see Clean Water-Healthy Land Financial Assistance Program

Consider celebrating Canada’s 150th Birthday with family and friends with the planting of 150 native trees that represents Ontario’s Forests and Official Trees. To order your package for $150.00, please fill out the order form and return to the GRCA by March 3, 2017.

Trees for Rural Roads

In the middle and late 19th century, farmers planted native maples, taken from their woodlots, along their property edges and on their lane ways. This gave rise to an important element in the rural landscape-lines of stately maples alongside roads and separating farmer's fields. The legacy of maple trees is embedded in many people's memories and part of the rural aesthetic. These century (and older) trees are now succumbing to old age, exposure to wind, insects and disease. They are often not being replaced and that party of the rural/cultural landscape is now in jeopardy.

In order to restore trees along rural roads, the Municipality of Clarington offered the Trees for Rural Roads program in 2012 to all municipal residents/property owners. In 2014, the Municipality of Port Hope began implementing the program. Trees are provided to approved applicants to be planted next to a municipal road on private property. Applicants are available from January to March of each year, and trees are available for pick-up late April/early May.

To learn more about the program, contact the GRCA Stewardship Technician


Town of Cobourg Water Conservation Garden

Built in partnership with the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority, Lakefront Utility Services Inc., the Town of Cobourg and the community, the Town of Cobourg Water Conservation Garden showcases and demonstrates techniques, products and plant materials that help to conserve water. All aspects of the garden can be easily incorporated into residential, commercial, or public setting.

So why focus a garden on water conservation? Because water is one of our most precious resources, and often taken for granted. The Town of Cobourg relies on treated water from Lake Ontario for drinking. In order to protect this important source of water, we must consider our everyday actions and how those actions affect water quality and quantity.

What's at the garden?

Native Plants and Shrubs
More than 40 species of native flowers, grasses and shrubs have been planted in the gardens. There are numerous benefits of native plants:

 - drought tolerance
 - pollinator friendly
 - wildlife food source
 - biodiversity enhancement 

Remember, plants native to Ontario are better adapted to the local climate and soil conditions, and more resistant to disease and pests than highly bred, cultivated, and exotic species.

Permeable Walkways
Two types of materials have been used to create permeable walkways through the garden. Permeable concrete is a product that has the durability of concrete but with environmental benefits due to its porous nature, making it a great alternative to traditional hard surfaces.

Ecogrid is a durable recycled plastic product that is laid over top of permeable soils. The grid can be filled with sand, gravel or decorative stone, or can be filled with soil and seeded with a native groundcover.

Both products allow rain or snowmelt to drain into the ground rather than running off the surface.

Rain Barrels
Installing a rain barrel is perhaps the best first step you can make toward conserving water and protecting water quality. Consider the benefits of using a rain barrel:

 - reduce storm runoff from lawns and paved surfaces into local creeks and Lake Ontario, which provides drinking water and protects water quality and quantity;
 - conserve water during hot, dry summer months when water restrictions are in place:
 - lower water bill costs - rainwater is free;
 - use soft, chlorine-free water for vegetable and flowering plants; and
 - use rainwater to wash your vehicle, soft rain water does not leave spots.

Discovery and Relaxation
Many pollinator species frequent the garden, including wild bees and butterflies. Discover who else is visiting the garden while learning about water conservation. Take advantage of the shelter on hot or rainy days.

Visit the Town of Cobourg Water Conservation Garden today. The garden is located on the south-east corner of Ewart Street and Division Street. 

Private Well Management

Approximately 30% of the population within the GRCA is dependent on private groundwater supplies for drinking water, bathing and household tasks. However, many well owners do not regularly test their water or inspect their well.

Consider having a free site visit from qualified GRCA staff. Staff will evaluate the structure of your well and the surrounding area. Recommendations will be given on how to better protect your important source of water. It is then up to the well owner to determine how to best proceed. Generally, problems with water quality area a result of poor well structure that allows surface water to enter the well. To book your free well site visit, contact the GRCA Stewardship Technician.

Consider testing your water a minimum of two times per year, ensuring you are testing the actual water, not water treated by a water softener or treatment device (e.g. UV filter). These tests are free and indicate the concentration (if any) of total coliform and E. coli.

To learn more about well water testing, contact your local agency:

Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit 
Durham Health Department

Yellow Fish Road

Urban stormwater is one of the biggest sources of pollutants in rivers, streams and lakes. Storm drains, the grates found next to the curb which collect runoff from the street, are the main entranceways of pollutants into local water bodies. During snowmelt and springtime rains, litter, sediments and chemicals can end up in local water bodies, entering through the storm drain system.

So what can you do to reduce and prevent storm water runoff contamination? Besides the everyday actions you can undertake, consider participating in the Yellow Fish Road Program. Through this program, participants paint yellow fish next to storm drains and distribute brochures to nearby households informing them of the program and actions they can take to reduce urban runoff pollutants. The Yellow Fish Road Program is a great activity for schools, community groups and those that require volunteer hours.

To find more about Yellow Fish Road or to register your school or community group, contact the GRCA Stewardship Technician

Volunteer Opportunities

The GRCA offers many volunteer opportunities to school groups, service clubs, businesses, individuals and students requiring volunteer hours. Stewardship volunteer opportunities range from tree planting, plantings at the Town of Cobourg Water Conservation Garden, and assistance at community events.

To find more about stewardship volunteer opportunities contact the GRCA Stewardship Technician. Other ways to stay connected on available opportunities is to subscribe to our quarterly e-news or follow us on Facebook.


From 2007 to 2016, and across the GRCA, more than 350 projects have been implemented through the Clean Water-Healthy Land Financial Assistance Program by property owners, schools, businesses and community groups.

The Regional Municipality of Durham, Municipality of Clarington, Municipality of Port Hope, Township of Hamilton and Town of Cobourg invested over $455,000.00 towards these projects, while landowners have contributed more than $1.4 million to the projects. The approximate monetary value of these projects is more than $2.1 million.

Project types funded include tree and shrub planting, livestock fencing from streams and woodlots, well upgrades and decommissions, agricultural best management practices (no-till drills and GPS units), clean water diversion, and many more.

See the 2016 accomplishments for:

Municipality of Clarington
Municipality of Port Hope
Township of Hamilton
Town of Cobourg

Stewardship Library

Welcome to the Stewardship Library. This is a one-stop shop to learn more about stewardship issues and management techniques.

Conservation Land Tax Incentive Program
Invasive Species - Doc 1, Doc 2, Doc 3
Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program
Pollinators - Doc 1, Doc 2
Septic Systems
Swimming Pool Discharge
Tree Planting Extension Notes - Doc 1, Doc 2, Doc 3, Doc 4, Doc 5
Water Well Management - Contractors & Well Records
Wetlands - Doc 1, Doc 2, Doc 3, Doc 4, Doc 5
Windbreaks - Doc 1, Doc 2

Township of Alnwick Haldimand Township of Cavan Monaghan Clarington Town of Cobourg Region of Durham Hamilton Township Port Hope City of Kawartha Lakes Conservation Ontario
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