Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Status of Pollinators in North America

Biodiversity and the status of pollinators are closely linked, as we heard in our October talk by Dr. James Coupland.

MVFN has several printed copies of Status of Pollinators in North America a publication recommended by Dr. Coupland for additional information. Several print copies were provided by Dr. Coupland to MVFN, and these are available for loan. Copies of this document can also be downloaded at the link below or a pdf of this document is also available here.

http://www.nap.edu/catalog/11761/status-of-pollinators-in-north-america

11761-0309102898-450

Continue reading...

Meeting July 8 in Perth to discuss herbicide spraying

A group of local people, including some MVFN members (and maybe you too!)  have a lot of questions about the decision of  Lanark County to begin a herbicide spraying program. The County has posted notice that it will begin or has begun spraying county roads (not all roads and not all municipalities within the County have yet been scheduled for spraying) with the herbicide ‘Clearview’ (active ingredient Aminopyralid) in order to stop the spread of the invasive plant, the wild parsnip.

The group is investigating the justification for spraying and the protocol of the ‘trial’ program, with a view to asking the County and local municipal councils within the County to look for alternatives to such a broad-stroked killing of plants and to encourage local governments to better educate the public about wild parsnip.

One problem with this practice is that all virtually all plants are likely to be affected with the exception of grasses. This includes milkweed which has become a common sight in ditches in the area. Milkweed was recently removed from the noxious plant list in Ontario and is the sole food plant of the larvae of the Monarch butterfly, which is a species listed of special concern on the Species at Risk list risk in Ontario. Also at risk are the many other invasive and native ‘weeds’ which are food and nectar sources for many insects during the summer.

To address human health concerns of the herbicide the Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit has posted a notice of a meeting tomorrow night in Perth: see the meeting details below.  If you can go to this meeting and relay your comments back via MVFN it would be appreciated. Ask them how many cases of wild parsnip they have treated. How much has the county spent on education?  If you have comments and questions for your local council or municipal staff about this practice, which may be taking place in your municipality now or in the coming years, we encourage you to please contact them.

NOTICE OF PUBLIC MEETING: The Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit is hosting a public meeting on Wednesday, July 8 at 6 p.m. to discuss the public health perspective of the controlled spraying of Clearview in Lanark County. The meeting will be chaired by Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paula Stewart at the Lanark County Administration Building in Perth (99 Christie Lake Rd.). The purpose of the meeting is for the health unit to respond to some public concerns regarding the weed-spraying program. It will consist of a welcome and introductions, a review of the purpose of the meeting and an overview of the public health perspective on the importance of controlling noxious weeds and the Public Health Officer report on the health impacts of the herbicide. It will also include an overview of the Health Canada and Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change role, including approval of product with restrictions and MOECC response to any environmental concerns raised by community. For more information, visithttp://www.healthunit.org/

Continue reading...

Rapids Clubtail dragonfly (Gomphus quadricolor)

NOTE: Recently a Facebook page has been established by Mississippi Mills community members: Find Rapids Clubtails of Mississippi Mills on Facebook

A rare and endangered species in the province, the Rapids Clubtail dragonfly (Gomphus quadricolor), was observed in the Mississippi River at Almonte falls June 15, 2015  and this and sightings of the species at Blakeney by a group of 4 MVFN members on June 13, 2015 were reported today to the Ontario Natural Heritage Information Centre which tracks species at risk such as this endangered species. This species had been reported in these locations historically in the past, but there were no recent ones until these reports from yesterday in Almonte and Saturday in Blakeney.  Reminder: it is illegal to net, catch or otherwise harass these endangered species.

A more detailed account of this endangered species locally will be posted soon.

IMG_0908 (1280x960)

Rapids Clubtail dragonfly at Almonte falls, 2015

Pauline Donaldson

 

Continue reading...

Ruling on exemption of many major industries from Endangered Species Act upheld

Message from Ontario Nature

logo_OntarioNatureHome

click on logo for Ontario Nature website

Ontario Nature’s attempt to overturn Endangered Species Act exemptions for major industries fails:

Ontario Nature and Wildlands League sued the Ontario government over a regulation which exempts a wide range of resource extraction and other industrial activities from the requirements of the province’s Endangered Species Act (ESA). We were represented by Ecojustice lawyers. The grounds for the suit were first, whether the Minister of Natural Resources failed to assess the negative impact of his proposed regulation on all of the species that it would put in harm’s way; and second, whether the regulation was contrary to the ESA’s main purpose of protecting and recovering species at risk.

On May 29, 2015 Ontario’s Divisional Court upheld the provincial regulation that exempts many major industries — including forestry, energy transmission, housing, oil and gas pipelines, mineral exploration and mine development, transit, wastewater management companies — from the ESA and allows them to kill species at-risk and destroy their habitat.

This is a very disappointing decision. The survival of Ontario’s most vulnerable wildlife is now weighed against competing industrial interests, which may tip the scale towards extinction. Every single endangered and threatened species in the province is deprived of the full protection of the law. When it was introduced in 2007, the Endangered Species Act was considered the gold standard law for species protection in North America. Unfortunately, recent years have seen the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry shirk its duties to protect at-risk wildlife.

Some of Ontario’s 155 at-risk species threatened by the regulation include the American eel, Blanding’s turtle, lakeside daisy, eastern hog-nosed snake, Acadian flycatcher and the iconic woodland caribou.

While this is a setback, Ontario Nature remains committed to protecting endangered species.

  • Working with farmers through the ALUS Program to advance our common interest in stewardship for grassland species at risk, like the bobolink.
  • Promoting natural heritage systems planning at the municipal and regional level, including through the 2015 coordinate review of the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, Greenbelt Plan, Niagara Escarpment Plan and Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
  • Working with our Youth Council to protect pollinators – several of which are at risk – and calling for restrictions on toxic pesticides, especially neonicotinoids.
  • Advocating for new protected areas and sustainable management in the boreal forest, home to the threatened woodland caribou and many other species at risk.
  • Protecting rare and vulnerable habitats for endangered species on and in areas around our 24 nature reserves.
  • With the help of thousands of volunteers, compiling data on endangered reptiles and amphibians to inform conservation and recovery plans.

We are reviewing the decision with Wildlands League and Ecojustice and considering our options.

 

Continue reading...

Monarchs in Trouble: Ontario Nature Urges Action

Message from Ontario Nature

Action Alert:

PLEASE NOTE: for up to date information regarding this Ontario Nature Action Alert, go to Ontario Nature’s website.

Canada’s most recognizable butterfly is in trouble. You now have the opportunity to speak up for monarch butterflies and urge the federal government to strengthen its draft management plan for this iconic species. While the plan certainly proposes some strong conservation measures, it is weak in terms of its overall objectives, targets and deadlines for action. We must do more for the monarch. The public consultation period on the draft plan ends on December 8, 2014.

Kens monarchphoto by Ken Allison

The monarch was listed as a species of special concern under the Species at Risk Act in 2003. It has declined dramatically over the past 15 – 20 years and is threatened by many factors including loss of breeding, nectaring and overwintering habitat, and the widespread use of pesticides and herbicides. Last winter, monarchs occupied just 0.67 hectares of their overwintering habitat in Mexico, only about 10 percent of their ten-year average of 6.39 hectares (1994 – 2014).

For many years, conservation efforts focused on habitat loss in the Oyamel fir forests of Mexico. While large-scale illegal logging has now been largely addressed, small-scale logging is an ongoing concern. But, there is a growing recognition that the reduction of milkweed in the monarch’s breeding habitats in the United States and Canada is also driving monarch declines.

The draft management plan identifies broad strategies and conservation measures needed at the international, national and local levels. But to be effective it needs to be significantly strengthened in the following ways.

1. The first objective of the plan should aim to recover Canada’s monarch populations, not just to “maintain the current Canadian contribution to the overall North American monarch population” (p. iii), as stated in the draft plan. Given that this species is known to be in decline, aiming only to maintain the current population simply enshrines a low and unacceptable baseline. Instead, the objective should be to halt the decline and increase the population within ten years.

     Recommendation 1: Revise the first objective so that it reads: “to mitigate threats to the monarch butterfly and ensure that there is sufficient breeding, nectaring and staging habitat in Canada to recover Canada’s contribution to the overall North American monarch population;”

2. The strategy dealing with Conservation and Management of Breeding and Nectaring Habitat (section 6.3, Table 5) does not address the use of pesticides in agriculture. The use of glyphosate herbicide in conjunction with glyphosate-tolerant crops is a key threat to the eastern population of monarchs.

     Recommendation 2: Under the Conservation and Management of Breeding and Nectaring Habitat strategy, include measures to address the impacts of pest control products used in agriculture.

3. The timelines for action under the Conservation Measures and Implementation Schedule (Table 5) are vague and distant (2019 and beyond). There are no responsibilities or roles assigned to any parties, including federal or provincial governments. Similarly, the indicators listed under Measuring Progress (Section 7) lack baselines, concrete targets and deadlines. A plan without these important features provides a very weak framework for decisive, timely action and for measuring solid progress.

     Recommendation 3: Revise the Conservation Measures and Implementation Schedule so that it includes more precise timelines as well as clearly defined roles and responsibilities to ensure timely and effective implementation of the plan. Similarly, revise Section 7 so that it includes baselines, concrete targets and deadlines for assessing progress.

Please join Ontario Nature in requesting a more robust management plan for the monarch butterfly. Remember, the deadline for comments is December 8, 2014.

Your comments can be submitted online: http://www.registrelep-sararegistry.gc.ca/document/default_e.cfm?documentID=1582

Or you can direct your comments to:

Recovery Planning
Environment Canada
15th Floor,
Place Vincent Massey
351 St. Joseph Boulevard
Gatineau, QC
K1A 0H3

Please see the sample letter below to send to Environment Canada.

“Dear Environment Canada, 

I urge you to strengthen the draft management plan for the monarch by:

1. setting a clear objective to recover populations in Canada and increase their numbers within ten years;

2. including measures to address the adverse impacts of pesticides and herbicides used in agriculture, a known threat to the species; and

3. including concrete targets, clear roles and responsibilities, and precise timelines for action and for measuring progress.

A plan without these important features provides a very weak framework for decisive, timely action and for measuring solid progress.”

Continue reading...