Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Master Steward Workshop

I have been busy this week getting ready for the Master Steward Training Workshop that will take place this weekend. It is an exciting time for the Muskoka Stewardship Program!

The Master Stewards are Muskokans who have volunteered to conduct site visits where they will work with landowners to protect the natural values of their properties. This could mean advising them about topics such as building a trail through your forest, attracting wildlife to your forest or garden, discouraging other wildlife from visiting, caring for your wetland ecosystem, harvesting wood from your woodlot in sustainable ways, and much more.

This weekend, the Master Stewards will be participating in 2 days of training so they are better prepared to help you with the projects you are interested in on your property. At these site visits they will have knowledge, information, and resources to share.

{let's keep Muskoka looking natural}

From the property visit, we will write a summary report of your property and give it to you so you are better equipped to begin and continue with stewardship activities. We will also give you resources that will help you with your projects. Lots of those resources can be found on this blog in the 'Stewardship Resources' section.

The Muskoka Stewardship Program aims to improve the ecological integrity of Muskoka's private lands. If your property is in Muskoka, rural, and larger than 5 acres, you qualify to have a Master Steward come out and visit your property. This visit is voluntary, non-regulatory and free.

The Stewardship Program is unique in that it encourages neighbours to help neighbours and empowers local volunteers to engage in their community. The Muskoka Stewardship program exists to encourage private land stewardship. We want to help you get to know your land better! Contact us to become a participant in the program.

Check back next week for highlights from the workshop!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

How are you celebrating Earth Day?

For some reason, I have been thinking a lot lately about the connections between the Muskoka Stewardship Program and biodiversity. Ecological diversity to be sure, as the actions landowners will undertake to conserve the ecological features of their land contribute to the well being of the systems on their property in a biological sense.
But what about community diversity? How does our learning about and from our land in a biological sense influence how we interact with our community of neighbours? Certainly the answer will be different for each landowner depending on the interests she has on her property and her relationship with her neighbours.

I think it will be exciting to notice the interactions that take place between neighbours during the course of this field season. It is my hope that we can encourage neighbours to be partners in their conservation efforts. Although our land can be separated by property lines, it is ultimately connected through the flora and fauna that exist there. The potential for these beings to connect us with our neighbours is an exciting prospect for community partnership in conservation through private stewardship.

Happy Earth Day!
In Stewardship,

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Thank You Volunteers!

This week in National Volunteer week in Canada. Thank you to the volunteers of the Muskoka Stewardship Program who have agreed to be Master Stewards!

We are holding our workshop on May 1st and 2nd and we will begin site-visits with landowners soon after. The Master Stewards will be the ones conducting site visits. They come to the program with an amazing wealth of knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm. Thank you to all the Master Stewards! Check the "Meet the Master Stewards" section of the blog later in May to view the profiles of our volunteers.

Landowners: are you interested in a site visit? A visit from a Master Steward will help guide you in the stewardship activities on your land. Email me to find out more!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Native Plants for your Property!

It's time again for the Muskoka Heritage Foundation's annual native tree and shrub sale!

{Encourage hummingbirds in your garden by planting perennials like Joe Pye weed}

Why choose native species?

  • They are better adapted to the diverse weather and soil conditions of Muskoka
  • They are more resistant to pests and diseases
  • They provide excellent wildlife habitat
  • They are better able to survive periods of drought
  • They require little maintenance
  • Most importantly: they help us reconnect with our natural heritage

The order form is now available at the MHF website. You must order ahead of the Saturday, May 15th pick-up date. Check out the website for pick-up times and locations. You can also find lots of information on the website about the growing conditions best suited to the native trees, shrubs, and plants we will be selling- like Joe Pye weed.

Check out the 'Stewardship Resources' page here on the blog to get more information about how to attract hummingbirds and butterflies to your garden and tips for native species gardening. Look under the 'native species' and 'habitat' sections.

New for the sale for 2010: At the Bracebridge location only, short presentations will be given throughout the morning on native plant gardening and restoration. There will also be additional plant species for sale.

See you there!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Have you seen this gatepost sign?

Have you seen this gatepost sign? If you have, I would like to know about it! Send me an email to tell me about it.

The Muskoka Stewardship Program first existed at the Muskoka Heritage Foundation from 1991-1996. During that time, 341 landowners protected more than 12,000 hectares of diverse Muskoka landscape, including 85 kilometres of natural shoreline.

Each of these program recipients was awarded a gatepost sign like the one in the picture above. Now that the Stewardship Program has been re-started, I hope we can build on past successes. I would like to connect with past program recipients and hopefully re-engage them in the program.

The gatepost sign will be redesigned with our new logo for the current program. Look for it on gateposts around Muskoka and watch the program grow! In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for the old gatepost sign.

In Stewardship,