The Friends of the Tay Watershed Association has announced the recipients of their 2018 Environmental Awards, recognising three individuals and organisations that have made a significant contribution to the protection and care of the Tay watershed and the environment in general.
Noelle Reeves, Tay Valley Township Planner, received the association’s award for Contribution to the Tay Watershed. As the municipal planner for a rural municipality with 26 lakes and several rivers, Noelle has taken to heart her very important responsibility for guiding the sustainability of those tremendous assets for the public benefit of the residents of Tay Valley Township and the natural environment which forms such an integral part of what makes the Township so special.
For ‘Contribution to Water Resources at the provincial, national or international level’ the recipient was Ontario Nature. Ontario Nature was one of the leaders in the province-wide movement that resulted in the removal of Schedule 10 from Bill 66. Schedule 10 of the “Open-for-Business” Act would have permitted development to bypass the legislative protection in several provincial acts, for water, natural heritage and farmland in municipalities across Ontario, undermining safeguards to our environment and the health of our communities.
Graham Beck, Little Stream Bakery, was the recipient of the award for ‘Contribution to the General Environment’. For many years, Little Stream Bakery has quietly provided grants to area organisations as a member of the international organisation known as “1% for the Planet”, a volunteer community of businesses dedicated to increasing charitable assistance to the environment, with the donation of 1% of their revenue.
These 2018 award recipients were voted the best in their categories from a list of 10 dedicated candidate individuals and organisations. The Friends of the Tay Watershed thank the recipients for their significant contributions to the stewardship of our natural environment.
The Friends of the Tay Watershed is a non-profit charitable association founded in 2001 to deliver programs and activities, and cooperate with other organizations with complementary interests, to ensure the health of the water and related natural resources of the Tay Watershed for present and future generations.
On January 30, Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust is hosting a fun Nature Quiz Night at the Golden Arrow Pub, 71 Foster Street in Perth.
This fun evening is a part of the current campaign to raise the funds needed for the stewardship of the 100-acre Byrne Big Creek Nature Preserve located near McDonald’s Corners. This ecologically significant property was bequeathed to the Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust by Joel Byrne, a true nature lover who, through this act of giving, fulfils his dream of protecting forever this special place.
Come to socialize with friends, tell stories about Joel and test your general knowledge of nature trivia. The Quiz Night starts at 7:00pm and there will be a cover charge of $10 that will go towards the fund.
More than 80% of the $48,500 goal has already been received. The MMLT hopes that all those who care about preserving wilderness in Eastern Ontario will visit the MMLT website at mmlt.ca and donate generously to the cause.
Saturday, October 3, will mark the dedication of the renewed walking trails of the Palmerston Canonto Conservation Area. These seven trails ranging from 300 meters to one kilometre in length have been well trodden by area residents and visitors over several generations. As the trees, bushes and grasses grew, the trails became more difficult to pass and the disappearance of earlier signage made some people nervous about finding their way. In response, community volunteers and the Township of North Frontenac formed a partnership to not only restore the trails but maintain and monitor the close to five kilometres of paths.
Originally established by the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority, the township has undertaken a responsibility for the trails, a responsibility that is considered to have become more do-able through this partnership with community volunteers. According to John Inglis, Councillor for Ward 3, “In an area with the natural beauty of North Frontenac, trails not only enhance the outdoor life of residents, but make the area attractive to visitors as a weekend and vacation destination. As such, trails offer a potential contribution to the local economy”.
The trails are colour coded with line of sight markings making it easy to reach either of the two summits - the Lakeview and Vista Lookouts. Maps along the way make navigation very convenient. The trails start from the dam between Palmerston and Canonto Lakes being approximately 4.5 kilometers down the Canonto Road from Hwy 509.
“When the community and the municipality work together, sharing in not only deciding what needs to be done, but also in the actual doing of the work, it is amazing how we can together make the community better” according to Bruce Moore, who coordinated the volunteer effort. Moore reported that “Twenty-four volunteers contributed 194 hours toward putting the trails back into good walking and snowshoeing condition. If this had to be paid for, the cost may have made this project prohibitive”.
Calling this a partnership cannot be understated. The Township of North Frontenac invested significant effort in this project: coordination; developing and installing GPS-based coloured maps located at the starting points and along each of the trails; ensuring the amenities, and also outhouses were restored.
According to Corey Klatt, manager of community development, “The re-opening of the Palmerston-Canonto Trails network is an example of the spirit of cooperation that makes it possible for a township, known to have limited resources, to do so much more for itself, its residents and visitors, when we all work together”.
Come walk the trails on Saturday, October 3. Walks will begin at the Palmerston-Canonto dam. Drop by between 10am and noon and one of the volunteers will happily introduce the trails network and set you off for a walk or accompany you if you would like them to join with you, your friends and family. Trail walks will be continuous through this time, so when you get there you will not need to wait – just get walking.
The name of the company, Mazinaw-Lanark Forest Incorporated (MLFI) sounds like it might have come from corporate Toronto, but the company owners and staff are more comfortable in the deep bush than in the corporate backrooms.
Made up of family owned logging companies, sawmill operators and Norampac, a pulp mill in Trenton, MLFI oversees harvesting activities on Crown forests in Addington Highlands, North Frontenac and northern Lanark County, a million hectare territory of which 306,000 hectares are Crown land. The productive land base that MLFI manages is 109,000 hectares, and its members harvest less than 1% of the managed forest in an average year.
Some of MLFI's main functions are to prepare and ensure compliance with a 20-year forest management plan that is approved and audited by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. The plan is updated on a regular basis, the latest update being completed in 2012.
Last Friday, August 21, MLFI invited members of the public to a tour of some of the forest it manages in the area of Machesney Lake, north of Cloyne.
The tour was structured around three sites where cutting has taken place in recent years, each of them examples of the three kinds of harvesting MLFI members engage in.
Based on the principles of Silviculture (the practice of controlling the establishment, growth, composition, health, and quality of forests to meet diverse needs and values) MLFI foresters use selection 40% of the time, shelterwood 45% of the time, and clearcutting 15% of the time.
The first site visited was a Selection cutting site, which had been last cut about seven years ago. The only obvious remaining signs that the cut had taken place were some piles of brush in varying states of decomposition in the area.
Jan Smigielski, silviculture forester with MLFI, described the site and answered questions from the 30 or so participants in the forestry day.
The site contained a mixture of young, middle aged, and older trees, all indications of what is called an uneven aged forest system. This technique is suitable for harvesting sugar maple, beech, basswood, black cherry, ash, and other species. The stands are harvested in 20- year intervals and through management the proportions of the forest remain stable, with the target species gaining from each cut for commercial and environmental reasons.
“Other factors, such as wildlife preservation, not interrupting water courses such as streams, maintaining heritage and habitat trees, etc. are also taken into account by the tree markers who mark trees for removal and the foresters themselves,” said Smigielski.
The second stand that was shown is a Shelterwood stand, which was located on higher ground. Shelterwood cutting is a phased cutting program, requiring two or three separate cuts over a number of years. One of the goals of this cutting system is to encourage habitat for certain species that can grow under moderate shelter conditions, such as white pine, red oak and yellow birch, as well as mixed hardwoods.
The idea behind Shelterwood is to open up the forest to more light in order to encourage certain species. In some cases, the forest is regenerated through seed production and in some cases seedlings are planted. The stand that was used for demonstration purposes included a number of red pine seedlings.
“In general, natural regeneration is preferable,” said Smiegelski, “but as you can see, plantings have their place as well.
The final location on the tour was a Clearcut site, which is now filled with young poplars.
“Typically we clearcut small sites in order to encourage shade-intolerant species such as poplar, white birch, jack pine, spruce and red pine. You can see here how the poplar have taken to the site. They need full sun to do this,” he said.
Among those taking the tour were Amp and Wayne Snider, who both come from multi-generational logging families in the area, and are members of MLFI.
Amp Snider had done a lot of the work on the Shelterwood site that we visited on the trip, and imparted some of his hard-earned knowledge of how the forest reacts to logging.
“The ministry (MNR) has certain ideas about what is here, but we find that on the ground the situation is different. That's why our tree markers, and the members who do the work are all taking stock and evaluating what they find every day before they do anything,” said Tom Richardson, the General Manager of MLFI.
The forest that MLFI manages is the southernmost crown land managed forest in Ontario, and it features the most diverse population of trees and wildlife in any of the crown forests in Ontario, being part of the Frontenac Spur of the Canadian Shield.
“We know what we have here, and we are careful to manage it for the future,” he said, “but as you can see, it is a complicated process.”
“We have learned a lot about the forest, but it has been here for longer than we have and there are things such as soil composition, terrain, and relationships between different plants and animals that we are only starting to figure out,” concluded Jan Smigielski.
Information about the operations of Mazinaw-Lanark Forest Incorporated is available at their comprehensive website MLFI.org, which contains links to their current forest management plan. They can also be reached by phone at their office in Cloyne at 613-336-0816.
Preserving the health of a river begins with care of the land throughout the watershed, and the shoreline is one important part of that care. The vegetation near the shores provides most of that care without our intervention. We can simply let it do its work.
The Friends of the Salmon River recognizes the Ribbon of Life standard: the first 30 metres or 100 feet back from the water's edge should be left in a natural state as much as possible.
Roots of vegetation near the shores mechanically stabilize the banks. Incorporated into the soil, the organic matter produced by shoreline plants helps bind soil particles together into aggregates that resist flowing into the river. The leaf litter under shoreline trees and shrubs becomes infiltrated by the mycelial mass of fungi and much of the nutrient-enriched runoff from your land is absorbed by these fungal strands and kept out of the river. All together, the natural vegetation and its litter will do a good job of keeping the river ecologically healthy and beautiful.
If there are large trees between your home and the river, cutting them down to improve your view damages the beauty you are trying to see. A smarter method is to prune the bottom half or two-thirds of the branches. Most healthy trees can withstand this intensity of pruning. This way, the roots remain in the soil to hold the bank together and you have a nice view of the river.
Balance a desire for river views and reasonable access to the water with the natural processes that maintain the health of the river.
When cutting wood, keep in mind that branches or trees left to float in the water can be very dangerous for paddlers and boaters on the river, so these should be removed. Habitat piles for wildlife on your land is a good use for leftover brush. For more information, see: friendsofsalmonriver.ca.
Vehicles in the River: When water levels are low in the Salmon River, ATVs and trucks are sometimes seen driving right into the riverbed - even being washed there. This is damaging in many ways: gas, oil, grease and other chemicals from vehicles contaminate the waterway. Driving on and trampling the vegetation on the shore leaves it open to erosion, which can degrade water quality and fish/wildlife habitat. This practice is so harmful. Perhaps our ancestors washed their horses in the river, which was fine. Vehicles in the river are not. Our children learn from our actions, and surely we want them to grow up with a respect for our rivers and waterways.
The desires of the people on the land and visitors on the river can all be satisfied and the river can be cared for if we can all act as good stewards.
Landscape ecologist and Friends of the Salmon River founder, Gray Merriam, was invited to speak at the Cloyne and District Historical Society's regular monthly meeting on April 20. In his talk titled “The Relationship of Cloyne to the Salmon River”, Merriam began by explaining that the Salmon River watershed formed as a result of the bedrock that exists underneath Cloyne, which was laid down over 100 million years ago. He spoke of the clumps of pillow lava, some two feet in diameter, which can be seen at the junction of Road 506 and Highway 41 just south of Cloyne. They are the result of lava bubbling up when the bedrock was molten over 100 million years ago. The watershed resulted when glaciers, which formed 13,000 years ago, receded and left behind huge chunks of ice that melted and resulted in so many of the ponds that make up the region.
The Salmon River watershed is roughly 80 km long. It begins on the Precambrian shield about 200 meters south of Mazinaw Lake and drains south, emptying into the Bay of Quinte in Shannonville. Cloyne is located at the rivershed’s top end and Merriam stressed that “The most important part of the river system is its top end since, if you put something in there, they will get it in Shannonville sooner or later.”
He also said, “We are the last lake district in southern eastern Ontario that is still in pristine condition.”
Merriam spoke of a survey carried out in the 1990s by Rob Snetsinger, whose aim was to characterize the wetlands in Southern Ontario. Around Kennebec Lake, Snetsinger’s work underscored the fact that there are so many connecting pieces of wetland, each within 750 metres of each other. As a result, the area required the title “The Kennebec Wetland Complex”.
Merriam added that this unique and expansive wetland area scored a total of 743 points in a rating system used in the survey, which in turn deemed it a “provincially significant wetland”. He spoke of the wetland’s ability to manage flood waters, as well as the importance of managing the area’s forests in a sustainable way. “All of this is to say that we should value the land here since it is indeed very special and unique.” Merriam stressed the importance of making efforts to document these lands now and into the future and that local people need to be the driving force behind maintaining them.
Following the presentation Merriam said he feels this land is so valuable that we need to think about how we are going to look after it, not just now but well into the future.
Coincidentally, two power projects are being discussed this month at local councils. One is at the bottom edge of Frontenac County, near the border with the City of Kingston.
Since it is a solar power field, little controversy is expected. The 106 acre site will end up being shielded from view by some vegetation and will silently produce up to 15 megawatts of power.
By contrast, another project is being proposed at the far north western edge of Frontenac County and neighbouring Lennox and Addington County. Instead of being located in the fertile, sunny south, it is in the highlands of Vennachar and Denbigh. The population is a fraction of that in the south. There are a few dozen dwellings within a 20 km radius of the site and a couple of hundred people at most.
Yet, a proposed 300 megawatt wind project that is proposed for the region is already starting to generate the first vestiges of protest. Stories about the impact of wind turbines on bats and migrating birds are common. Turbines can be seen, and heard, from long distances, etc.
The controversy that came with the wind project on Wolfe Island and the proposed project on Amherst Island may not exactly be duplicated in North Frontenac and Addington Highlands, but there are and will be people who wish the whole thing would go away.
This is understandable. No one wants their way of life to be challenged, and no one wants their property to lose any of its advantages. Property owners like to control their surroundings. They buy the land surrounding their house when it becomes available.
While it is very much a fact that wind power has huge environmental advantages over coal-fired stations or nuclear power plants, that is easier to say when the turbines are not located within shouting range of our own back yards.
Renewable energy is still a small player in the energy generation market. Wind projects, although small on a global scale, are a measure larger than solar projects, but both are necessary to start turning the tide from the dead end of non-renewable energy to a long-term future that will have to come from renewable resources if the human species is to survive the next 500 to 1000 years.
So, we need to look at them, and in some cases that means applying utilitarian logic to individual landowner interests. A certain amount of inconvenience to a few in the interest of the many has to be accepted.
But we need to be careful, and that is where public processes and honest evaluations of projects is required, so that the balance is not tipped to the point where people are forced from their homes.
There is a proposed wind project off Cape Cod that has generated complaints. One of them, levied by Robert Kennedy Jr. no less, is that “people want to look out and see the same sight the pilgrims saw”.
Well, the original occupants of North America might say the same thing about the entire continent, but that never stopped the industrialisation of North America.
It would take 15,000 wind projects the size of the one proposed for North Frontenac and Addington Highlands to cover the world's energy needs, and even then only when the wind is up.
A 300 mw project is still a huge project, given that each of the six active nuclear reactors at the Pickering nuclear plant produce 500 mw of power each. The environmental implications of wind power certainly pale in comparison to the problem of nuclear waste, not to mention the small, but not inconceivable, potential for a nuclear accident should a nuclear plant fail. Renewables will not replace nuclear energy any time soon, but power production is a long term process, and a wind project in Frontenac and Lennox & Addington could be part of the solution.
Crowded into a tiny office tacked onto the north end of the Barrie hall in Cloyne are the small offices of the six staff members who make up Mazinaw-Lanark Forest Inc. (MLFI), a private company that works year round managing the Crown land forest in Lanark and Mazinaw.
The land they manage covers a huge swath totaling 305,000 hectares in an area that stretches west to Marmora, east to Carleton Place, north to the Madawaska River and south to Tamworth.
The company, which started up in 1998, is owned and funded by local shareholders including 13 independent logging companies, seven sawmills and one pulp mill. The company operates under a sustainable forest license and its primary role is to prepare forest management plans, site-specific prescriptions and annual work schedules, while simultaneously meeting forest renewal obligations, plus all government reporting requirements, and ensuring that all operations comply with the Crown Forest Sustainability Act. The act aims to “manage Crown forests to meet the social, economic and environmental needs of future and present generations”.
Prior to the late 1990s the management of Crown land forests was performed by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), after which time and under the Harris government that management was transferred to the private sector. The MNR still retains the overall responsibility of making sure companies operating in the Crown forests comply with current legislation, which the MNR achieves by requiring management companies (like MLFI) to provide them with regular audits, inspections and reviews. They also are required to seek MNR approval for forest management plans.
Because these local forests have for generations been logged by small family businesses, it was deemed in their best interest to hire a small team of professionals to carry out the management side of their businesses. Trying to manage the boots on the ground and the blades to the bark is enough to keep these small companies busy year round, so the shareholders hired MLFI to do the management side of their business.
A big part of that management deals with in-depth immediate, short and long-term planning. Jan Smigielski has been working as a silvicultural forester with MFLI since 2000 and his job is to develop site-specific forest operation prescriptions showing exactly how particular blocks are to be prepared for harvesting. Smigielski said that the most challenging part of his work is also what makes it the most exciting: dealing with the natural complexity of the area. “The natural bio-diversity of this area challenges you in such a way that you can not do anything uniformly. You have to develop prescriptions on a very small scale. First you have to identify the different patches of eco-systems and address them accordingly,” he said.
The companies working with the MLFI supply mostly maple, oak and poplar to a variety of local buyers within a 100-150 km radius and they primarily sell pulpwood, firewood, and saw logs.
Matthew Mertins, who is planning and operations forester with MLFI, said that he is currently working on a forest plan for April 1, 2016 through to March 31, 2021, a plan that will detail all of the operations that will happen during that period including the locations of the harvesting blocks and renewal areas, and that will also include the various types of protections put in place for wildlife and other natural features, which the public want to see protected. “The whole idea behind the planning is to make sure that we know where we are doing the forestry operations while having the appropriate safeguards in place to make sure that the operations have no negative impacts on human activity and enjoyment and wildlife. The whole idea behind forest management is that you can run sustainable forestry operations while other things are going on around it. Cottaging and wild life can occur simultaneously as long as you strike the right balance,” Mertins said.
According to recent statistics put out by the MNR, 450 people are directly employed by forest operations on the MLFI's management area, proving that the industry is a large employer in the area.
Staff said that in an effort to keep the public informed about the current MLFI plans and operations, they are in the process of launching a new website that should be up and running by the end of this week. The site will include information about the business, its staff, its operations, along with profiles about the shareholders, and information about the local businesses working with MLFI with links to their websites as well as links to the MNR's forest management plans for the area. You can find the new website by googling Mazinaw Lanark Forest Inc.
Many local growers from the area attended the Kingston Area Seed System Initiative (KASSI) workshop titled “Planting for the Future: Building Capacity for a Regional Seed System”, which took place at the United Church in Inverary on November 15. The event was organized by KASSI board members Dianne Dowling, Cate Henderson and Kathy Rothermel.
The day began with an introduction to KASSI by Cate Henderson, who highlighted the various ways the organization hopes to reach its goal of “ensuring sustainable local food grown from local seed” and by doing so, “increasing local seed and food security in the Kingston and surrounding area by generating a robust regional seed system; growing and distributing heirloom and locally adapted seed; and creating a vibrant network of regional growers.”
To meet these goals KASSI plans to establish a local seed bank, host a seed library to facilitate seed sharing and exchange, and encourage local farmers to increase seed production by growing quantities large enough for large farm scale production.
The day-long event also included a panel discussion by a number of speakers, including Kathy Rothermel of Wolfe Island, who spoke of the different models of the regional seed businesses she discovered while traveling in England, the United States and in Canada. She spoke of three seed businesses in particular: Stormy Hall Seeds, Hawthorne Farm Organic Seeds and Fruition Seed. She also spoke about recent updates from the Eastern Canada Organic Seed Growers Network (ECOSGN) conference.
Aabir Dey of the Ontario Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security, a national and regional initiative involving a network of partners working together to preserve seed diversity by promoting ecological seed production and improving the public’s access, while focusing on crops important for nutrition and food security, spoke about Bauta, the organization that funded the workshop and its various initiatives.
Last to speak was Mary Britain of Newtonville, who operates her own seed business called the Cottage Gardener. She spoke about her over 20 years in the business and of the “current trends, gaps and opportunities for regional seed producers”. Following the panel discussion there was a question and answer period, after which attendees split into groups and answered three specific questions: 1) How do they see themselves fitting into the regional seed system? 2) What assistance or supports might they need? and 3) What models do they envision to fairly compensate all participants?
Following lunch, attendees watched a presentation by local Verona farmers Pat and Kate Joslin of Bear Root Gardens in Verona, who produce over 50 varieties of seeds, which they sell along with their market garden produce at the Frontenac Farmers Market in Verona. The couple, who have been contracted to grow seeds for both Bauta and KASSI, demonstrated two different kinds of home-made seed cleaning devices, which save them hundreds of hours of time. The first was an air column seed separator that was built by students at LaSalle High School in Kingston under the direction of their manufacturing instructor Bob Chambers. The separator runs on a Shop Vac and is best used for separating smaller seeds like lettuce and broccoli. The second was a winnower seed cleaner that the Joslins built themselves, which uses a regular blow dryer to separate larger seeds. Plans for both devices are available on-line.
Following the demonstrations, attendees were encouraged to fill in a survey to give feedback to the facilitators.
Dowling said that the event's goal was to bring together “people interested in growing, producing or purchasing more locally grown adapted and available seed.” She laid bare her long term hopes for KASSI. “KASSI's dream is that in a few years there might be one or two small seed businesses in the Kingston area.” Her advice to local farmers wanting to produce their own seeds: “While it’s not impossible to integrate seed production with a market garden, it definitely takes a certain amount of planning and organization.” For more information about KASSI visit www.SeedsGrowFood.org
By Susan Sentesy, MMLT
Beavers have always had a special relationship with humans in Canada. Almost extirpated at one time, today they are widely recognized as a symbol of our country. But how much do we really understand them and their role in our world? Who to better help us understand and appreciate beavers and life in their ponds than Michael Runtz, renowned naturalist and photographer?
On Friday, November 7, the Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust (MMLT) will hold its Annual Dinner and Benefit Auction at the Almonte Civitan Club Community Hall. Michael Runtz is our honoured guest speaker. The event also features a Benefit Auction offering a wide range of useful and uniquely interesting items, with proceeds going to help support the important work of the Land Trust.
Anyone who has ever heard Michael Runtz tell the stories of his wild adventures in the backwoods of Ontario will confirm that they are absolutely riveting. And these are not just tales – he’s got exceptional photographs to prove it!
Michael Runtz has won numerous awards for his education and conservation efforts and community involvement. He believes that through his work he can help people understand and appreciate nature. He is the author of 11 books that demonstrate his wealth of knowledge and passion for nature, brought to life with his outstanding photography and enthusiasm.
Michael’s many years of on the ground research into the habits and habitat of beavers back up this highly visual and entertaining presentation. It will provide an advance glimpse into his new book, Dam Builders: The Natural History of Beavers and their Ponds, due out next February. Many unusual beaver facts, including original observations and photographs, will provide a captivating, intimate glimpse into the world inhabited by beavers. Beaver ponds are some of the most complex and important habitats of our regions. Like watching a first-rate play with a constantly changing cast of characters — beavers, otters, birds, amphibians, plants, and other species — Michael will give us a tour of a dramatic show seldom seen so vividly.
This annual event is a fundraiser for the Land Trust, with proceeds helping support the ongoing costs of stewarding the properties under its care. To date, MMLT has protected 2,200 acres of conservation lands and is currently in negotiations with landowners for 500 additional acres.