Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Why we need . . . . the dark.

Join MVFN as we explore this serious, albeit fascinating, topic with Robert Dick M. Eng. P. Eng., Manger of the Dark-Sky Preserves program and Chair of the Light-Pollution Abatement Committee, Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

The presentation Blinding Light! Bring Back the Night will take place on Thursday, Jan 18th, and is the fourth in MVFN’s “2017-18 When Things Go Bump in the Night” natural history series.

As one who had been watching the dark sky and the not-so-dark stars and other bright celestial objects one can see in a dark sky, our guest speaker, was almost always aware of the effects of man-made artificial light on the dark. However, he came to realize that the light was not simply a nuisance for star-gazers.

Robert Dick: “For over a century, astronomers have known about the impact of artificial light on the night sky. But this was just the ‘tip of the iceberg.’ Studies into the effects of light on our biology and mental functions are revealing a more profound physical impact.”

“Most life has evolved to accommodate starlight. It also accommodates bright moonlight for about a week every month. But it needs the remaining three weeks of only starlight to recover from the bright moon. More light than this changes the behaviour of animals because it is not an environment for which they had evolved.”

Dick implores us to listen to our common sense. Come to his presentation on Thursday January 18th and hear about the proven impact of artificial light at night on the ecology of animals and plants, and on our own biology, our vision and our brain. And consider what we can do to minimize this impact.

EVENT DETAILS

Thursday January 18, 2018 /  7:30 PM / Almonte United Church 106 Elgin St. Almonte, ON

Doors to the social hall at Almonte United Church will open at 7 PM and the program gets underway at 7:30 PM. Refreshments are available throughout the evening and a discussion will follow the presentation. As always, the event is free for MVFN members and youth 18 and under. Everyone is welcome, $5 for non-members fee at the door. For further information please contact MVFN’s Program Chair Gretta Bradley at  or visit mvfn.ca.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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MVFN has written a letter of concern to Lanark County, expressing our opposition to their plans to carry out herbicide spraying in 2017 of approximately 350 km of roadsides along County (and Township) roads, in an effort to control the presence and spread of wild parsnip, as well as other noxious weeds.  This letter follows from a similar letter sent in 2016.  A map and table showing the roads where spraying is planned or has been completed can be found on the Lanark County web site at http://www.lanarkcounty.ca/Page1875.aspx.

MVFN is concerned that spraying, particularly boom spraying, of a general herbicide (Clearview) to control wild parsnip will detrimentally affect many other species of flowering plants that provide food for insects and birds.  We also feel that, even with careful application, there is a risk of the herbicide entering streams and wetlands where it is known to be highly toxic to aquatic organisms.  An active ingredient of Clearview (aminopyralid potassium) cannot be considered readily biodegradable and so may persist in the environment and transport into groundwater.

MVFN is of the opinion that the County should focus its efforts on wild parsnip control through non-chemical means, particularly mowing at appropriate times of the year, and carry out a more comprehensive public information campaign that will lead to risk reduction through education.  No matter the scale of our efforts, wild parsnip, like poison ivy, will always be with us and we should deal with its presence through education and mechanical control, not through the widespread application of herbicides.

To learn more about wild parsnip, and how property owners can control it, please go to this Mississippi Mills link:

http://www.mississippimills.ca/en/news/index.aspx?newsid=ea222f68-22bb-4b3e-857a-3bfe39d4a2ed

Here is the MVFN Letter of Concern that was sent to all Lanark County Councillors: MVFN-letter-to-LC-spraying-2017.pdf

Photos below are of wild parsnip plants at various stages of development. Learn to recognize the plants and avoid them.

 

WildParsnip

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Help Wanted Help Wanted Help Wanted

Saturday, April 30, 2016

MVFN’s Environmental Issues Committee is embarking upon a new effort to help make our part of community more ‘natural’ and ‘healthy’ by removing as much trash as possible from roadways.

We have decided to “adopt a road” each year. This year we will clean up on Clayton Road, Mississippi Mills AND we are asking your help to achieve this task! Meet afterwards for donut and coffee to relax and celebrate.

Date: Saturday April 30th from 8:30 to 10:30 am; coffee at Equator Coffee in Almonte afterwards.

Fourteen volunteers plus one or two pick-up trucks would easily complete the task. Please register for this event so I’ll know who is coming. Let me know if you have a pick-up and can help to drive helpers and/or help by collecting litter.

What to wear: long sleeves and trousers, tucked in to protect from deer ticks and wild parsnip.  Gloves are essential.  Also sun screen and insect repellant.

What to bring: a light pail with a handle and a stick with a nail in the end.

Where to meet: Esso station (corner of Highway 29 and Ottawa Street) in Almonte at 7:45 am for car-pooling.

To Register: Contact Cliff Bennett at 613-256 5013 or

IMG_2442 (1024x768)

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Press Release

Breaking a Bag Habit:  the Sequel

Last summer the Environmental Issues Committee (EIC) of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) conducted a campaign to increase public awareness of the environmental damage caused by single-use plastic shopping bags. They were concerned about how in Canada alone, between 9 and 15 billion shopping bags are generated every year.  Most of these bags end up in landfills, waterways and fields, and cause great harm to wildlife over the many hundreds of years that it takes for these bags to break down.  So EIC and MVFN decided to do something about it at the local level.

Headed by EIC Chairperson Theresa Peluso, MVFN members hosted information booths at various festivals and stores in Mississippi Mills to spread the word about how harmful these plastic bags are.  They also asked the merchants in Almonte, Pakenham, and Clayton about their awareness of the issue, their store policy about providing plastic bags and alternatives, and their ideas on how to reduce plastic bag consumption.  Next, they got the youngsters involved by organizing a contest in local schools.  The contest consisted of designing a poster illustrating the damage caused by plastic bags. The winning posters were then copied and distributed to nearly every store, municipal building and church in Mississippi Mills.

According to the results obtained in a follow-up survey conducted in June and July of this year, there was a significant decline in plastic bag consumption from last year.

For various reasons (small number of stores selling items requiring a bag, change in store personnel in past year), the follow-up survey was limited to data from 10 stores.  For these 10 stores, there was a reduction of nearly 103,000 bags, which represents a decrease of about 19 percent over the previous year. (Last year these same 10 stores reported using 539,850 plastic bags; this year, 437,070 bags.)

One merchant, on realizing how much was being spent on plastic bags, decided to sell cloth bags printed with the store’s logo with the provision that customers using the bags for their purchases would receive a discount on their purchases every time they used the bag. A few more stores now wait for the customer to request a plastic bag and promote the re-use of single-use plastic bags.

 MVFN attribute the decrease in plastic bag consumption in large part to their Plastic Bag Reduction campaign held  last year, including the impact of the student posters which were visible everywhere.

Municipal initiatives such as increasing waste diversion options may have also contributed indirectly to the drop off in plastic bag use. 

 MVFN and EIC extend many, many thanks (on behalf of the animals and plants that share this planet) to all the students who participated in the poster contest, to the merchants who are trying hard to reduce the use of plastic bags, and to the public who are changing their bag habits to help the natural environment.

 What can be done to reduce this number further?  Using plant-based biodegradable plastic bags is a good option for situations where plastic bags are the best solution (e.g., for dog feces, litter, baked goods, and bulk food items).  Putting up eye-catching signs to remind people to bring their own bags would help.  Simply put, ways need to be found to encourage more people to develop the habit of always using alternatives to those throw-away bags.

 MVFN’s next objectives are to source low-cost plant-based biodegradable bags, as well as cloth bags that can be printed inexpensively with a store logo, for Mississippi Mills, to continue efforts to increase public awareness of the plastic bag issue and to get support from municipal councillors to reduce plastic bag consumption (perhaps by printing signs for stores to display).

 Reducing plastic bag consumption by nearly 19 percent is a huge achievement – but perhaps Mississippi Mills residents can top that!

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Press Release

Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists

Winning student posters to be displayed to fight plastic bag scourge

By Theresa Peluso

On your next outing in Mississippi Mills, check out the artwork on display in libraries, arenas, shops, and other public spaces. You will not only be impressed by the artistic and design talents of the children who created these winning posters in the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists’ Refuse-to-Use Plastic Bag Poster Contest, you’ll also be motivated to find alternatives to those environmentally destructive plastic shopping bags!

Photo 2 Hirst

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Don’t Litter, Pretend You Were the Critter!” is the message from Libby Hirst of Pakenham Public School, shown with her poster, one of the winning designs in MVFN’s poster contest to raise awareness of the environmental problem with plastic bags. Photo John Fowler

The poster contest, which took place during the month of November, was held to engage local students in showing the harm caused by plastic bags, and suggesting alternatives. Although plastic bags seem harmless, their pervasiveness and longevity make them a serious environmental hazard. These plastic bags end up everywhere, choking and trapping millions of animals on land and in the seas, and blocking drains and sewers during the many hundreds of years they take to break down.

Overall, the poster contest was very successful. Thanks to the enthusiasm of local elementary school teachers and students, nearly 80 amazing posters were received. MVFN would like to thank our judges, Elizabeth Veninga, Catherine Blake and Chandler Swain, all well-known local artists, who were dazzled by the talent of the students and the multitude of ways they conveyed their ideas. After much deliberation, they selected the following winners: in the Grade 1-3 category: Denby Fergusson, Naismith Memorial Public School (First), Tatum Ferguson, Naismith (Second), Myles Thompson, Naismith (Third), Dylan Chartrand, Naismith (Fourth), Jason Alexander, Naismith (Fifth), Anthony McCamon, Pakenham Public School (Honourable Mention), Everett St. Croix, Naismith (Honourable Mention), and in the Grades 4-6 category: Fiona Mehmet, Naismith Memorial Public School (First), Sky JS, Pakenham Public School (Second), Libby Hirst, Pakenham (Third), Ben Hoban, Naismith (Fourth), Kyrah Nicholas, Pakenham (Fifth), Nick Love, Pakenham (Honourable Mention), Brianna Moore, Naismith (Honourable Mention).

An awards ceremony was held at the Almonte Public Library on December 18 to celebrate first-, second- and third-place winners, and award to certificates and, for the first-place winners, cheque and book prizes. We were delighted that all those invited were able to find time during the busy month of December to attend. MVFN would like to thank all those students who participated. Many thanks also to John Fowler, a talented local professional photographer, for donating his time and expertise to providing a visual record of the event, and to Pam Harris, Mississippi Mills’ Chief Librarian, for organizing use of the meeting room and space to display the top posters.

Needless to say, these students are thrilled to know that the posters they laboured so hard to create, will be catching everyone’s attention, reminding us to do the right thing and break that bad bag habit!

 

 

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