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Severn man converts pipeline corridor into wildflower meadow

'Corridors like this provide very important foraging areas for pollinators,' explains Matt Thomson

A local man’s hope to convert a pipeline corridor into a pollinator habitat is coming to fruition, and now nature just has to do the rest.

Almost a year ago, Severn Township resident Matt Thomson set out to beautify a four-acre stretch of pipeline land with various pollinator plants.

After working with the County of Simcoe and TC Energy Corporation to carry out the project, Thomson and 10 volunteers tilled the land and seeded it with more than a dozen flowering species earlier this month.

“Corridors like this provide very important foraging areas for pollinators. A lot of these companies that manage these areas don’t realize how much value that these spaces hold because they’re just here to maintain their infrastructure,” Thomson told OrilliaMatters.

“I said, well, here’s an opportunity, so why don’t we restore it into a wildflower meadow?”

Beyond helping pollinators, the species that were planted should be beneficial for many insects and animals.

“It’s not just for pollinators. A lot of other wildlife, like birds, all kind of provide a central food source, I guess you can say. Birds will feed on certain seeds,” Thomson said. “They’ll go after different caterpillars or the butterflies, and it’s just kind of spatially rebuilding that food chain.”

After receiving approval to move forward, Thomson sourced tillage discs and a John Deere tractor from people he knows, and he set out with volunteers to seed the land May 3.

Although it will take some time to establish itself as a wildflower meadow, it’s “an awesome feeling” to see the project in motion, he said.

“I’m extremely grateful for the collaboration with county staff, and as well as the staff from (TC Energy Corporation). They’ve been very helpful,” he said. “(We) had about 10 volunteers all together, at different age groups, and it was so exciting to see everyone just kind of doing their thing.”

Thomson hopes to establish additional wildflower meadows in similar spaces, and he has already had discussions with people from around Canada about setting up similar projects.

“I want to believe that this is one of the first projects of its kind across Canada in a corridor space,” he said. “It’s kind of a unique thing for the area I’m hoping that future generations can enjoy.”

In the next year or two, residents near the pipeline corridor on the Silver Creek tract on Division Road, just outside of Orillia, can keep their eyes open for the following species: New England aster, wild perennial lupines, purple coneflower, lanceleaf coreopsis, lemon mint, black-eyed Susan, borage, butterfly weed, white clover, corn poppy, partridge pea, sweet mignonette, wild bergamot, forget-me-not, and perennial gaillardia.

Thomson has long been an advocate for nature in the area, and he runs community gardens in the Cumberland Beach area.