Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Valuable Resource: Extension Notes

Looking for information for your next project on your land?
Want to make sure you are doing the right things?

Extension Notes are user-friendly fact-sheets on a variety of resource management topics including, agroforestry, financial aspects, forests, insects and pests, water, wetlands & wildlife.

Read online or download to print!
PDF fact sheets on topics such as:

  • Do you have a healthy woodlot?
  • Conserving the Forest Interior: A Threatened Wildlife Habitat
  • Promoting a Healthy Forest Through Tree Marking
  • Backyard Maple Syrup Production
  • Preserving and Restoring Natural Shorelines
  • Improving Fish Habitat
  • Cavity Trees are Refuges for Wildlife
Lke them so much you want hard copies of your own?

The Landowners Resource Centre is the place to go.

  • Individual copies to a maximum of 5 are FREE
  • Subsequent copies are $1 each
  • A compilation of all Extension Notes in a binder are $80

Viewing the Extension Notes requires the free Adobe Acrobat Reader plug-in.

Get it here:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Co-existing with Wildlife

A couple of weeks ago I attended a Stewardship Series workshop called "Wildlife in Your Woodlot- Challenges of Co-existing". It was hosted by the Stewardship Councils in Haliburton Highlands, Parry Sound-Muskoka, and Bancroft Area.

The workshop provided some great insights into understanding the habits of wolves, bears, and deer. Experts at the workshops told us that by better understanding their habits, we can avoid conflict and live in a way that is healthier for us all.

Black Bears:
  • 50% of human-bear conflicts are due to improperly stored garbage
  • 10% of human-bear conflicts are due to bird feeders

That means you can eliminate 60% of what attracts bears simply by storing your garbage properly and only having bird feeders out from November through March (when the bears are hibernating).

If you take away the food, you take away the bears.

Read more "Bear Wise" tips here and here

Wolves & Coyotes

There are 3 different types of wild canids in Ontario:

  • Grey wolf (canis lupus)- typically of northern Ontario
  • Eastern wolf (canis lycaon)- from Timmins south to Algonquin Park
  • Eastern coyoye (canis latrans)- southern, central, and eastern Ontario

Having wolves and coyotes in our area is an indicator of a healthy ecosystem.

Wolves and coyotes tend to ignore the areas where people live. You are more liekly to hear one than see one. Both wolves and coyotes howl at night to boradcast occupancy of their territory and keep each other informed of each other's locations while hunting or traveling alone.

Wolves and coyotes very rarely attack humans. Here are some things you can do to prevent problems:

  • Do not approach or feed wolves or coyotes. Feeding them makes them less fearful of humans and habituates them to food provided by humans.
  • Properly store and maintain garbage containters. Food attracts rodents and rodents attract coyotes.
  • Never attempt to "tame" a coyote or wolf.

Read more about wolves and coyotes here and here


Deer- and all animals for that matter- are all looking for the same things: food, shelter, water, and space. Their behaviours are motivated by these factors alone.

While summer is a time of plenty for deer in Muskoka (as any gardener here can tell you!), winter is hard for them. The browse is of low quality and they must contend with the cold weather and deep snow. To help them cope, deer store fat reserves for about 3 moths. They also tend to stay in conifer covered areas in winter where the snow is not as deep and the air is (a tiny bit) warmer.

Some Muskokans enjoy feeding deer but this can cause problems like dependance (if you go away and they no longer have that food source) and life threatning digestive diseases. The corn is also low in nutritional value and generally not good for them. Feeding deer also generally brings them closer to roadways.

A good brochure about co-existing with deer can be dowloaded here

Another good resource:

The living by water project

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Muskoka Heritage Trust has exciting news about Dyer Memorial

You are invited to a special reception to hear some news about the Dyer Memorial!
Join us!
Friday, October 15th, 2010

At Partners Hall, Algonquin Theatre
37 Main Street West
Huntsville, Ontario

Refreshments will be served
Cash Bar

How did the Muskoka Heritage Trust acquire the Dyer Memorial?

The Muskoka Heritage Trust was established in 1996 by the Muskoka Heritage Foundation to preserve Muskoka's heritage assets, including significant natural lands and built heritage. The ongoing protection of the Dyer Memorial property therefore fits within the Trust’s mandate. Since early 2009, the Trust has been negotiating with the Dyer trustees about assuming responsibility for the property.

What will happen now?

The monument, stairs and walkways will be repaired in the fall of 2010. In 2011, the area surrounding the monument will be planted with native species, with the assistance of the Natural Heritage Committee of the Muskoka Heritage Foundation.

Will the Dyer Memorial Monument Site be open to the public?

It will be open to the public, from dawn to dusk. Please take only photos and leave only footprints.

Why is it important to protect lands in trust?

The preservation of natural areas and built heritage helps to maintain the character of Muskoka. The protection of ecologically significant land also protects:

  • large natural areas, or an area that connects two natural areas and helps combat fragmentation of habitat, which threatens species, particularly those with large territories
  • shoreline which also protects the lake’s water quality
  • wetlands which is habitat required by many species, including threatened species like the Blandings turtle
  • areas of high biodiversity, helping to mitigate the effects of climate change

What we do:

  • Protect Muskoka’s biodiversity through land protection
  • Monitor and manage the land to ensure it remains in a natural state
  • Encourage good land stewardship
  • Retain expert volunteers who assess ecological values of land.
  • Provide conservation options for landowners
  • Assist landowners in accessing tax benefits for donation of ecologically significant land

Hope to see you at the announcement!!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Enjoy Muskoka this Weekend

Happy Thanksgiving!
With promises of fantastic weather this weekend, there is no better time to get out and enjoy Muskoka.
Here are some suggestions:
1. Take a Hike!

{This photo is taken from the lookout at Huckleberry Rock near Milford Bay with thanks from}

There is hardly a more beautiful way of enjoying the spectacular fall colours, the crunch of the leaves and crisp air. The Muskoka Trails Council has maps/trail guides for most trails in Muskoka. Check out last week's blog post to find out how the leaves change colour.

2. Gather together

No doubt families and friends will gather to celebrate and to eat together this weekend. Help out in the kitchen by trying one of Cottage Life's delicious recipes. Don't forget to try and eat locally as much as possible. We have some delicious food that comes from close by.

This shot also from

3. Clean out the Cottage

Closing up the cottage for the winter? Don't forget to empty the cupboards and donate all non-perishable food items to the local Manna Food Bank in Bracebridge.

4. Stargaze

Clear nights this week have meant amazing stargazing in Muskoka. The big dipper is sitting low in the sky- can you find it? The Anishinabe people believe that the big dipper shape is actually a fisher. There is an accompanying story called "how the fisher went to skyland". Read it here

5. Rake leaves

Put away the leaf blow and clear the paths or your yard with the rake. It's good exercise, environmentally friendly and offers a chance to listen to the sounds of the outdoors. If there are kids, check out these fun ways to have fun with leaves. If you compost, add some of the leaves to your compost pile. If you have paths, clear the leaves from the path and toss them into the forest. In both cases the leaves offer superb nutrients for the soil.

Have a fantastic weekend!

Don't forget to vote on your favourite display of fall colour in Muskoka this year. The poll is at the top of the blog on the right.