Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rally for Nature

Nature can't vote.

But you can!

Let the Province know that you don’t want Ontario’s wildlife to disappear!
On September 21, you can speak up for nature. Join
Ontario Nature and tell all the political candidates running in the upcoming election that protecting plants, animals and ecosystems is one of the most important issues facing us today.

Meet friends of Ontario Nature at 11:00am at Queen’s Park on Wednesday, September 21, 2011.

On behalf of the more than 6,000 people who signed our Charter for Biodiversity, you can send a message to government saying that the loss of wildlife in Ontario must be stopped.

Visit Ontario Nature's "Rally for Nature" site to find out more and learn what else you can do to help wildlife in Ontario.

When you vote on October 6th in the Ontario provincial election, remember to think about biodiversity conservation as an important election issue.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Golf Courses and Environmental Stewardship

Golf courses aren't always the most environmentally friendly of places. However, in Muskoka they are an important part of our economy. The Muskoka Highlands golf course takes steps to provide a scenic and challenging golf course while contributing to a healthier natural environment. Now that's environmental stewardship in action!

Muskoka Heritage Foundation held our Annual Golf Classic tournament at the Muskoka Highlands in an effort to showcase the possibilities for stewardship in Muskoka- both on and off the course! Below a sample of what we learned. Click on the images for a larger view.

Hole #1

Hole #4

Hole #10

Hole #13

Hole #17

We had a great day at Muskoka Highlands on Monday. All funds raised from the tournament, silent auction and putting contest go directly to support our Stewardship Programs. A HUGE "thank you" to our golfers and sponsors.

Above: Gord Durnan takes a practice swing before his chance to win the putting contest.

Above: Looking over Hole #2. The rain held off despite ominous skies.

Above: Golfers at Hole #17: a chance at a hole in one!

Above: Supporters from Muskoka Watershed Council pose for their team photo.

Winners take all! And will have their names put on the tournament trophy.

This team won "most honest". Looking good!!

Thanks again to all our sponsors and golfers. It was a great day!

See you again next year.

In the meantime, what are you doing to incorporate stewardship practices on your property?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Composting in Bear Country: free workshop!

(FREE) Composting workshop tomorrow evening!

I've written before about Composting 101, but now's your chance to attend a hands on workshop about it. Looks amazing!

If you go, please let me know so I can hear all about it!

A map to Yvonne Williams Park, in Parry Sound

Monday, August 8, 2011

Muskoka is Getting Well Aware

Did you know that the Muskoka Heritage Foundation delivers the Well Aware program? This program helps protect drinking water and groundwater resources.

Well Aware’s trained representatives conduct visits, known as “guided self-assessments,” with well owners to help them learn how to manage their own wells. The visits are voluntary, non-regulatory, and confidential.

The program was developed to meet the need for consistent, reliable information about caring for private wells. Homeowners who receive poor results from well-water tests contact Well Aware as a starting point to learn how they can improve their water. Property owners new to living on a well can also contact the program to learn how to protect and conserve their water supply from day one.

On each Muskoka area visit, Matt (above right), our local Well Aware representative, asks a series of questions from a standardized assessment tool to determine how the well is being managed. Afterwards the advisor provides information and contacts that will help the homeowner follow up on recommendations made during the visit. Recommendations typically include well upgrades to meet current safety standards, removing potential contaminants from the well area, testing the water regularly (like in the photo below) and pumping septic tanks.
Well Aware is the first large-scale private well stewardship program in Canada. It has won the 2009 Sustainable Community Award for Water, awarded by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and CH2MHill.

Besides well home visits, Well Aware distributes a booklet and video, operates a website, and has developed many useful factsheets. Well Aware focuses on education and awareness on well owners to help empower them to make positive changes to protect their primary source of drinking water.

Are you Well Aware?

Contact Rebecca Francis at Muskoka Heritage Foundation to book your well visit!

Well Aware is a program of Green Communities Canada (GCC). It is delivered in Muskoka by Muskoka Heritage Foundation, the local GCC member organization, and in 21 other Ontario upper tier municipalities by 14 GCC member organizations.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Woodlot Management & Tree Selection

The final 2011 Nature Quest Workshop was held on July 26th at the Bracebridge Resource Management Centre. Stewardship Coordinator, Chris Near, from the Parry Sound Muskoka Stewardship Network (PSMSN) led the session about Silviculture.

What is Silviculture?

Simply put, silviculture is the science of growing trees. If you are a woodlot owner, chances are you will want to think about which silviculture method you would like to practice in your woodlot. You may even end up practicing more than one depending on the size and features of your property. Chris spoke to the group about three methods for growing, harvesting, and regenerating trees: clearcutting, selection, and shelterwood.

Plantations, such as the red pine plantation pictured above, require good forest management, including proper thinning, top reach their full potential. Red pine prefers dry locations and grows best on sandy, coarse loam soil which is well drained. Research has shown that as red pine plantations mature, they begin to transform old field sites into forest conditions. The increase in organic material in the soil from the needles helps prevent erosion from wind and water. As the stand is thinned, the increase of sunlight reaching the forest floor provides ideal conditions for native hardwood and conifer species to germinate and grow.

About 50 bird and mammal species depend on cavity trees, including primary users which make their own cavities. Cavities constructed by the pileated woodpecker (like the ones above) are especially important in providing habitat for other animals. Aim to keep six living cavity trees per hectare in our woodlot.

If you are planning a large cutting operation on a large woodlot, be sure to consider how the logging equipment will get in and out of your woodlot. There is the potential for damage if not thought out properly. Some landowners will use the trails made by the skidders and other logging equipment and convert them into trails for personal use after the logging is finished (like in the photo above)

Creating openings in the forest crown provides benefits to regeneration. You might consider planting seedlings in an opening to promote greater species variety. Make sure to consider species types and their shade tolerance and plan for maintenance of the area if necessary to maintain sunlight in the area.

Bracebridge Resource Management Centre (BRMC) is a great place to visit to see the different aspects of forest management. It is indeed a managed forest where the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) has managed different parts of the forest there in different ways and to regenerate the forest using different methods. If you get a chance to visit, make sure to stop at the signs like to one above to learn about various aspects of silviculture.

More Information

There is a lot to consider when managing a forest or woodlot. Be sure to seek out good information and reliable professionals. Some resources to get you started:

  1. A Landowner's Guide to Forest Management Basics call me or drop in at the office to receive this resource