Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Stewards of the land

Did you catch this article in the August 12th edition of the Muskokan?

I will update this post with a link to the article when it becomes available.
Interested in having a Master Steward out to your property?
Send me an email!
Find out how in the 'Contact Us' section.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A beautiful beaver pond

I wanted to continue with the post from last week and show you some pictures from a recent Stewardship Program visit. These landowners are enthusiastic about what they are learing from the active beavers on their property.

Added benefit of letting nature do its' thing: a lot of other wildlife that uses this area! The owners love sitting in the gazebo by the pond at dusk watching all the activities. They are inspired by watching the pond and the wildlife it attracts. They have seen deer being chased by coyotes then seen the coyotes playing at the side of the property. In the winter their observations include a moose and her calf on the pond.

It just goes to show the different approaches that can be taken on different properties. A perceived problem can actually be a fantastic learning opportunity- and it is beautiful!

How do you enjoy watching fauna on your property?

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Good and Bad of Beavers

Does this look familiar?

Beavers can sometimes be a nuissance by initiating flooding in fields and forests, washing out roads and killing trees. However, they also play an important role in our ecosystem by creating wetland habitat for many animals, birds and insects.

The photos in this post illustrate damage from a beaver and one solution the landowner is trying out to keep the beaver from taking any more trees in this marshy area. At the end of the post I will write more about other solutions and sources for more information.

{The landowners noticed the grasses and reeds had been stomped down where the beaver made a path to some juicy birch trees. He took 3 small birch before the landowners decided to take action}

{There are several trees in the area of the first 3 birches. Some of them are conifers which the bever is unlikely to take. There are 2 basswoods and 1 birch which the landowners decided to protect the trees with cages. The bottom is held doen with rocks and the wire extends 2 feet up the tree to deter the beaver from starting to chew.}

{Here is one of the basswoods, also held down with rocks. If the ground is soft, it is recommended to burry the first couple inches of cage to keep the beaver from removing it.}

{Another basswood with a cage. The wire is held together around the tree with light gauge wire)

Since this landowner only has a couple of trees to protect in the immediate area where the beaver seems to be, protecting the trees with wire is a feasible solution- and seems to be working for now! Tree protection on a large scale might not be as practical. Here are some other ways to deter beavers on private land:

Wait and Enjoy!
This can be the best way to manage a beaver- there is little work and you are able to enjoy watching the natural cycle of a beaver pond and the wildlife that are dependant on the wetland environment they create. Wetlands created by beavers can provided habitat for spawning fish and a sanctuary for birds like herons and red-winged blackbirds.

The Beaver Baffler
Drain pipes imstalled through the dam with one end in the dep part of the pond and the other downstream, far away from the dam. The beaver will be unable to control the water level in the pond, become discouraged and move on.

Live trapping can be a (temporary) solution. If attractive habitat remains- another beaver will find it! Trapping must be done by a licensed trapper (unless you are a farmer). Contact your local Ministry of Natural Resources for the names of licensed trappers in your area.


What are your tactics for dealing with beaver on your land?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Water Quality in Muskoka

The wetlands, lakes, and rivers of Muskoka are beautiful. Part of what makes them so great is that they are some of the cleanest in the world. As Muskokans, we use them for recreation, fishing, and drinking. We aren't the only beings that use them though; they are vital to the ecosystems of the area. Think of loons, turtles, fish, birds, amphibians, and mammals big, medium, and small who all rely on Muskoka's water.
There are some key organizations and people doing their part to keep Muskoka's water clean. This summer I am volunteering with the Muskoka Lakes Association Water Quality Initiative. The WQI studies how human land-based activities effect the quality of nearshore zone surface water. My job is the analyse the samples that my counterparts collect and report on them. This week, I had a special helper. Drew had helped to collect the samples and wanted to see the next step.

{Drew and I take a look at the coli plates in the incubator. They sepnd 24 hours there before analysis. There is one plate for each of the 6 sample locations from one area of the lake}

{Part of the analysis includes checking for e-coli using a uv light. The e-coli are florescent and we count how many wells in the plate are glowing}

{We also count how many wells have turned blue. This indicates how many coliform are present in that particular sample}

{We record the data and submit it to MLA in order to monitor long term trends. Included in the program is collecting and analysis of e-coli, total coliform levels, total phosphorus concentration, turbidity, and temperature of the lakes}

There are other very comprehensive programs and resources related to water in Muskoka:

How are you becoming engaged in water quality issues in Muskoka?