Significant Wetlands in Lanark County
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Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
February 6, 2014
Enjoy Field Naturalists’ Wet and Wild!
By Cathy Keddy
The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) 2013-2014 public lecture series, Knowing and Caring Connect Us to Nature, continues February 20 with its 5th presentation, “Wet and Wild!” Anyone who possesses a curiosity or appreciation for wild nature will enjoy these lectures. Cottagers, hunters, fishermen, canoeists, hikers, campers, artists and seasoned field naturalists alike will find something to interest them as we explore what lives in Lanark County and how best to protect it for future generations. Refreshments are offered at each lecture.
Many wetland species, such as the ones in the photos above, are dependent upon annual flood pulses: (a) white ibis (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), (b) Mississippi gopher frog (M. Redmer), (c) dragonfly (C. Rubec), (d) tambaqui (M. Goulding), (e) furbish lousewort (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), and (f ) Plymouth gentian (Paul Keddy).
At this upcoming meeting we will take a look on the wet side of Lanark County. Dr. Paul Keddy, a professor of ecology for over 30 years and author of Earth, Water, Fire: An Ecological Profile of Lanark County, will give a presentation on wetland communities—the places you have to wear big boots. He has studied wetlands, forests and other upland communities of the Ottawa Valley, the Maritimes, and the Gulf of Mexico. Dr. Keddy has authored several prize-winning books on ecology and received a National Wetlands Award for Science Research. He has advised groups including The Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, and Earthjustice.
All life contains water. From distant space, Earth appears as a mosaic of blue and green, blue for water, green for plants. This talk will be about the connections between green and blue—wetlands. The surrounding uplands interact with the low wetlands. For example, amphibians, such as tree frogs, over-winter in the forest, while nutrients and runoff from the forest enter the wetland.
Wetlands have always influenced us. Early civilizations first arose along the edges of rivers in the fertile soils of floodplains. Wetlands continue to produce many benefits for humans—along with fertile soils for agriculture, they provide food including fish and waterbirds. Additionally, wetlands have other vital roles that are less obvious. They produce oxygen, store carbon, and process nitrogen. Of course, wetlands have also been a cause of human suffering, such as providing habitat for mosquitoes that carry malaria. And, for thousands of years, human cities in low areas have flooded during periods of high water. Philosophers and theologians may enquire how it is that one system can be both life-giving and death-dealing.
This promises to be an entertaining night—fish that breathe air and eat fruit, mosses that drown trees, plants that eat insects, and frogs that climb trees. We will also be introduced to the world’s largest wetlands, wetlands that perch on hillsides, wetlands that burn, and of course, wetlands that flood. Our neighbourhood wetlands and what we can do to conserve them will also be featured. Wetlands are one of the most productive habitats on Earth, and they support many kinds of life.
Signed copies of Dr. Keddy’s book on Lanark County’s natural heritage will be available for purchase at the meeting.
Hear about wet and go wild, at MVFN’s next lecture, “Wet and Wild,” where Dr. Keddy will describe the wonders of wetlands on Thursday, February 20, 7:30pm at Almonte United Church, 106 Elgin St., Almonte. All are welcome ($5 fee for non-members). For further information please contact MVFN’s Program Chair Cathy Keddy at 613-257-3089.
What can you do for the Wetlands? Here is some simple advice from some expert guest speakers at MVFN’s natural history lectures:
Pat Ferris of MAPLE :
1. Mark off 10 m from shore and do nothing. This, in a nutshell is MAPLE’s (MAPLE was the Mutual Association for the Preservation of the Lake Environment) “MAPLE 10” program. A natural shoreline is the ‘ribbon’ of life which is absolutely essential for many species and for healthy water.
2. Relax. Would you like to re-vegetate your shoreline? Let low-maintenance native plants sprout from the natural seed bank. For help and information with shoreline planting consult Mississippi Valley Conservation http://www.mvc.on.ca/shoreline-planting/ Other nearby conservation authorities also offer clean water programs http://www.rvca.ca/programs/rcwp/rvca_rcwp.html
3. Remember the lesson of Bert and Ernie? Build less, enjoy more. The best erosion control is natural shoreline vegetation. Remove retaining walls and install only low impact docks.
Brian Potter, OMNR:
1. Remember that wetlands are not just water, not just land, but a vital link between land and water, and critical to watershed health – providing critical habitat plus playing an essential role in proper working of the hydrologic cycle i.e. for groundwater re-charge, natural water purification, flood control etc. Some significant wetlands in our watershed include Mississippi Lake, Wolf Grove wetlands, Kerr Lake, Clayton/Taylor Lake.
Photo Cathy Keddy
2. Wetlands are disappearing at an alarming rate. Encourage your municipality and conservation authorities to put resources into proper inventory of wetlands, and protection through good planning and vigilance. Look into programs available for individuals and groups to help preserve wetlands:
-Land Stewardship and Habitat Restoration Program, (http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/en/Business/LetsFish/2ColumnSubPage/STEL02_166030.html)
-Conservation Land Tax Incentive Program http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/en/business/cltip/index.html
-Adopt a Pond http://www.torontozoo.com/AdoptAPond/
3. Support research on buffer zones around wetlands. As more work is done on this, researchers are finding more examples of species for which the current requirements for the size of buffers or upland areas are insufficient.
Michael Runtz, Carleton University
1. Consider the natural cycling of areas inhabited by beavers. You might think you have a beaver problem but your beaver could well be one of those 2-yr old beaver who has just been kicked out of home and has set up a last minute den just to get through the winter. If so, he may go elsewhere the next year.
2. Beavers play the role of engineer when it comes to creating nutrient rich ponds, teeming with life. Water levels are raised, new species are attracted, and the forest gradually acquires a pond, marsh, and ribbon of grassland. The habitats thus created by this impressive rodent are vital to the health of our watershed.
3. Get kids/grandkids off the computer and out into nature. Value nature, it is the best show in town. Michael says he never gives nature a bad review!
To Members and Friends of Friends of the Tay Watershed:
On Wednesday, February 13, the Friends of the Tay Watershed will host an address by Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) that we believe will be of considerable interest in our community.
DUC’s Regional Director for Ducks Unlimited, Jamie Fortune, will provide a presentation on that organization’s major wetland conservation program in this area – made possible in part through their large water-taking permits. In addition to being a leader in wetland preservation, DUC accounts for 98% of the water-taking permits in the Tay watershed alone.
This presentation is the second of our series, titled “Perspectives on Water”, organized to inform the community and promote discussion on selected issues concerning our water resources.
This session will take place at the Perth & District Collegiate Institute on Wednesday, February 13, at 7:30pm.
Friends of the Tay Watershed
P. O. Box 2065, 57 Foster St.
Perth, ON, K7H 3M9
(613) 264 0094
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
November, 3, 2006
by Pauline Donaldson
Pat Ferris to show how ‘boat loads’ of shoreline rehabilitation promote healthy watersheds, at next field naturalist lecture
On Thursday November 16, Pat Ferris will present “Shoreline re-habilitation and impacts on watershed health”, the third lecture in the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists watershed series. The lecture will focus on the work of MAPLE, the Mutual Association for the Preservation of Lake Environment in Ontario . Pat Ferris was the founding director of MAPLE, a volunteer group he established in 1983 while working as a Lakes Planner with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. He recognized the need for both “individual responsibility and group action to maintain shorelines in a natural state”.
Many lake associations have embraced MAPLE’s guidelines which help groups survey and assess individual shoreline properties, and recommend restorative action for properties with low natural value, such as those rated ‘ornamental’ which in the extreme may have chemically treated lawns extending to the waters edge. MAPLE can provide native plants and trees for shorelines requiring re-vegetation. The re-vegetated shoreline, unlike those with hard rock, provides habitat, not only erosion control.
MAPLE also runs a nursery on Christie Lake to cultivate indigenous plants and shrubs, and hosts volunteer spring and fall planting and cuttings days. Each spring, species such as Virginia creeper and willow are ready to be ferried around various lakes by brigades of boats. This is an interesting and rewarding program, one those living by water can learn much from. Shore dwellers can also do a lot by simply doing nothing as recommended in the ‘MAPLE 10′ program. To promote a healthy watershed, at your waterfront, mark off the area from the shore back 10 m and then do nothing. The natural ‘seed bank’ will soon sprout native plants which will slow erosion and start the shoreline naturalization process.
Ferris will outline MAPLE’s programs and the critical role natural shorelines play in reducing pollution and erosion, in providing shaded habitat for birds, amphibians and aquatic organisms, etc. Come and hear what can be done and what sources of information are available on what to plant, as well as how, when and where to plant.
Pat Ferris’s presentation is Thursday, November 16th at 7:30 pm at the Almonte United Church, 106 Elgin St., Almonte. All are welcome. MVFN members and children under 16 receive free admission and for others a $5 fee applies. Host for the evening is MVFN member Paul Egginton. Following the presentation refreshments will be available. For more information please contact MVFN Program Chair Joyce Clinton at 613-257-4879/ or check the MVFN website at www.mvfn.ca
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
October 6, 2006
by Pauline Donaldson
Wetlands: the vital link between land and water, with Aquatic Ecologist Brian Potter at next MVFN lecture
On Thursday October 19th the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists welcome Brian Potter, as our guest speaker for “Wetlands in our Watershed”, the second in a series of 7 lectures on “The Mississippi Valley Watershed”. Brian Potter is an Aquatic Ecologist and graduate of the University of Guelph . His career with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources includes work in fisheries assessment, conservation and planning, and other areas dating back to 1982. Specializing in the ecology of wetlands, Potter currently works in the Biodiversity Section of the Fish and Wildlife Branch. He was a member of the review team for the Natural Heritage Reference Manual, a key reference used to interpret provincial policies on wetlands, forests etc. which guide municipal planning decisions in Ontario .
Wetlands are some of the most productive habitats on Earth; not just land or water but a unique combination of both. Many of us are aware that we live amidst some important wetlands such as the ‘Class 1′ wetlands of Mississippi Lake, Kerr Lake, Clayton/Taylor, the Wolf Grove area, or Pakenham Mountain. However, few of us understand the significance of wetlands and why some are assigned a ‘class’. Wetlands, be they swamp, bog or other, are extremely important in providing habitat but they also play a vital role in flood control, groundwater recharge and several other key functions. As a biologist and major contributor to the Ontario Wetland Evaluation System, Brian Potter can give the audience an overview of the different kinds of wetlands, their role in the ‘bigger picture’ of wetland and watershed health overall, and tell us how they are threatened. This will likely shed some light on the reasoning behind the various regulations which apply to wetlands such as the Drainage Act, wetland buffers etc, and on what we and our municipalities can do to better preserve wetlands for the future.
The presentation by Brian Potter takes place Thursday, October 19th at 7:30 pm at the Almonte United Church Social Hall, 106 Elgin St., Almonte. All are welcome; MVFN members and children under 16 receive free admission and for others a fee of $5 applies. MVFN memberships can also be purchased at the door. Host for the evening will be MVFN’s past president Mike Macpherson. Following the presentation refreshments are available. For more information on this lecture and others in the series, please contact MVFN Program Chair Joyce Clinton at 613-257-4879, or email or check the MVFN website at www.mvfn.ca.