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Mississippi River at Pakenham

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100% Possible: Ottawa Climate Change March on the Eve of Climate Conference in Paris

As announced at the MVFN lecture last week: a Climate Change event including speeches etc. and ending in a march will take place on November 29th on the Eve of the Climate conference in Paris in a few weeks time. There will be a lcoal bus going in to Ottawa for this event from Perth and Carleton Place areas. To reserve a space on the bus contact Anita Payne at or 613-267-0881 or follow this link for more information.

Check details, but they are roughly as follows: bus leaves CP around 10:30 am, speeches at Ottawa City Hall begin 1 pm, and march is from 2 – 3 pm.

Also of interest from Avaaz organization: The video Big Oil wouldn’t want you to watch

 

 

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Ontario Nature Action Alert

Unfair chase: The spring bear hunt is bad policy founded on bad science

logo_OntarioNatureHomeThe Ontario government is proposing to extend the two-year spring bear hunt pilot for another five years and to expand it into all areas where fall bear hunting is currently allowed (EBR Registry Number: 012-5485). The excuse? Public safety. The reality? Study after study shows that shooting more bears does not reduce human-bear conflicts.
The government’s fall-back rationale is tourism dollars. Accordingly, the plan is to open up the hunt to trophy hunters from outside the country.Black-Bear_and_cub_Missy_Mandel_banner

Ontario’s spring bear hunt was originally cancelled in 1999. Many felt that the spring hunt was not sporting or fair chase as hungry bears came out of hibernation and were attracted to bait stations where they were shot by hunters waiting on platforms – like fish in a barrel. For the next 15 years, black bear hunting was limited to the fall. But in 2014 the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) decided to reinstate a limited spring hunt as a pilot.

The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario’s 2014 – 2015 report provides troubling information about the so-called pilot. In reinstating the hunt, the ministry ignored the advice of its own expert Nuisance Bear Review Committee. It failed to put recommended conditions on the hunt such as: prohibiting the killing of all females; providing proof of the age and sex of the bears killed; and timing the hunt to reduce the vulnerability of females.

One thing the ministry did require was that hunters who had purchased a bear hunter licence tag report on their spring hunting activities. But less than 50 percent of the hunters complied with the requirement, begging the question of what the government could actually have learned from the pilot. As noted by the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, “incomplete information on the number, age, sex and location of the bears harvested each year prevents the MNRF from effectively evaluating the hunt’s ecological impact and making informed management decisions.”

Indeed, collecting data on two critical factors that are known to lead to an increase in human-bear conflicts – natural food shortages and the availability of garbage – were not part of the ministry’s proposed approach.

Please join Ontario Nature in opposing the unjustifiable extension and expansion of the spring bear hunt. The government should be listening to experts and scientists who have found no evidence that the spring hunt reduces nuisance activity by black bears. Instead, the government should invest in educational programs and solutions to human-bear conflicts that are supported by evidence and science.

Please send in comments by the November 30 deadline. Be sure to reference Environmental Bill Registry #012-5485. Comments can be sent in via the EBR site also at this link. Search for EBR #012-5485.

Lanark County herbicide spraying not necessarily a good idea

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/

Attend Public Meeting to support Burnt Lands Alvar

At approximately 6:30 pm, April 21, 2015 in Town of Mississippi Mills Council Chambers, 3131 Old Perth Rd there will be a public meeting regarding the rezoning of lands designated “Rural” and identified as ANSI (Burnt Lands Alvar; Area of Natural and Scientific Interest). The intent by proponents of a cluster lot development within the alvar ANSI is to convince Council to allow for a rezoning of their land to “Rural, Special Exception” in order to remove a current restriction on the proposed building in the alvar.

At the meeting, council will hear and deal with the issue of a proposed development in the Burnt Lands Alvar, directly for the first time. The applicants are seeking approval for a Zoning Bylaw Amendment to allow them to go ahead with a development proposal in the Burnt Lands Alvar.   The result could be 100+ acres of provincially significant ANSI (alvar species, wetlands, threatened species) being degraded, and “a loss of connectivity and ecological function in this pivotal portion”. MVFN’s Burnt Lands Alvar Campaign committee opposes this and believes that the alvar area should be protected with better municipal development guidelines.

There will be a sign up sheet for the Public to receive further information on the issue. However, those wishing to have their input registered should either speak at the meeting or forward their comments and opinions to the appropriate contacts.

Details: Please attend this public meeting. For further information, follow this link to the agenda package documents: http://www.mississippimills.ca/uploads/12/Doc_635647910377718231.pdf

The order of items in the agenda in the Committee of the Whole Meeting (immediately following Council meeting which starts at 6 pm):
A. APPROVAL OF AGENDA
B. DISCLOSURE OF PECUNIARY INTEREST
C. DELEGATIONS/PRESENTATIONS/PUBLIC MEETINGS
1. Public Meeting and Background Report for Zoning By-law Amendment
#Z-01-15 – 1463 Golden Line Road, Cluster lot Pages 1-6

Field naturalists launch campaign to save the Burnt Lands Alvar ANSI

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Press Release

January 9, 2015

 

 

 

DONATE NOW to Save the Burnt Lands Alvar ANSI

The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) have recently launched an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board in order to prevent development that would destroy a portion of the Burnt Lands Alvar, a provincially significant Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI), one of several natural treasures in Lanark County.

A developer was given provisional approval on November 10, 2014 by the Lanark County Land Division Committee to build a cluster lot housing development between Ramsay Concession 12 and Golden Line Road, south of March Road. This development would violate provincial and municipal regulations for this ANSI by degrading the ANSI landscape and its ecological functions, and it could set a precedent for further development in the Burnt Lands.

Alvars, which date back to about 10,000 years ago, support distinctive flora and fauna, and are found in very few places – parts of Ontario and the U.S. Great Lakes Region, and in a few regions in Sweden and Estonia. The Burnt Lands Alvar is considered the fourth best example in all of North America.

These natural features are characterized by limestone plains with thin or no soil. Often flooded in the spring and affected by drought in midsummer, they are home to a very hardy group of flora and fauna that have adapted to the harsh conditions of the alvar.

The Burnt Lands Alvar ANSI is located east of Almonte, straddling Ramsay Ward and the City of Ottawa, on either side of the March Road.  It is an outstanding example of alvar habitat – combining alvar pavement, alvar grasslands, alvar shrub lands, treed alvar and wetlands. Besides its unique flora, the alvar also supports 82 breeding bird species, 48 butterfly species, 98 species of owlet moths, globally rare species of land snail, globally rare invertebrates, and a kind of carabid beetle found nowhere else in the world. Although the alvar is not a prairie, it hosts many prairie species such as prairie sawflies and a thriving population of wingless prairie leafhoppers.

Conserving biodiversity is essential for Ontario’s long-term prosperity and environmental health. The treasures of our natural world need to be preserved for future generations. The cluster lot development in the ANSI would cause widespread disturbance and degrade flora and fauna, including the habitat of endangered species and threatened species. It would also compromise connectivity to adjacent alvar properties and introduce many non-native species.

The Provincial Policy Statement, the Lanark County Official Plan and the Mississippi Mills Official Plan all require protection of the habitat of endangered species and threatened species. Furthermore, they require that there shall be no negative impact on the ANSI or its ecological functions, or on adjacent lands.

Part of the Burnt Lands Alvar ANSI is private land, and many private landowners cherish their land and provide good stewardship; part is a Nature Reserve Class Provincial Park; and part is owned by the City of Ottawa.

In addition to submitting an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board to halt this development, the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists have started a campaign to publicize the issue and raise funds for the appeal process.  The campaign begins with a short presentation by Ken Allison, past president of both MVFN and the Ottawa Field-Naturalist’s Club,  on January 15 at 7:30 p.m. at the United Church Hall, 106 Elgin Street, Almonte, before the featured lecture.

The public can support the campaign through the DONATE NOW button on the MVFN website or by contacting Theresa Peluso at .

SEE ALSO:

DONATE NOW to Save the Burnt Lands Alvar ANSI

Presentation by Ken Allison – What is an Alvar? Burnt Lands Alvar: A rare ecosytem of execptional quality

 

 

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FULL-SIZED  CALENDAR WITH DETAILS

MVFN's natural history talks take place on 3rd Thursdays, Jan-April and Sept-November, at  Almonte United Church, 106 Elgin St., Almonte, ON. All welcome!

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