2013-2014: Knowing and Caring Connect us with Nature
Are we doing enough to protect natural areas and wildlife that lives there?
By Tineke Kuiper
Many communities in Ontario, Canada, and around the world have realized that it is important to protect large natural areas across their landscape, for the long term, with some having had the foresight to start doing this a long time ago. Increased growth should ideally take place outside important core natural areas.
In Ontario, the first step toward the protection of such core natural areas considers key natural features such as provincially significant wetlands, significant woodlands, and areas of natural scientific interest that are identified by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR). Data on these features form the basis for making decisions about which are the core areas that should be protected. The next step ensures that important core natural areas are connected to each other through natural linkages, resulting in a Natural Heritage System (NHS) which benefits both nature and us. This is of great interest not only to naturalists, but also to anyone who enjoys the outdoors or who owns property that may include natural features such as wetlands and woodlands.
Perhaps it is time to consider an NHS for Mississippi Mills. To find out what our neighbour, the City of Ottawa, is doing in this regard, the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists invited Dr. Nick Stow, ecologist and for the last five years senior planner for land use and natural systems at the City of Ottawa, to speak at their last lecture for 2013. He chose the title ‘Natural Landscape Design: the Art of the Possible,’ which perhaps reflects on the fact that for progress to be made one needs to be optimistic and there needs to be a good dose of political will. Dr. Stow did not disappoint us, as he gave a well structured overview to an audience of at least 60 people. Using many maps, he showed how Ottawa and its partner, the National Capital Commission, have protected important natural core areas.
Using Google Earth, Dr. Stow showed the overall Ottawa landscape, where we can see two interrelated domains. In some areas, human-dominated towns and villages stand out, with their associated agricultural areas and connecting roads. In predominantly rural areas, we can see tracts of forests and wetlands, which are the domain of wildlife. These natural areas provide many ecological benefits that humans depend on, such as clean water and oxygen. When they become more diverse, as a result of protection, these ecosystems are more stable, resilient, and provide a greater range of benefits. These areas are also of intrinsic and psychological value to us.
When we apply basic conservation principles across the landscape, we see that context is important, such as geological history and the continuum of human impacts. Scale is also critical in considering types of biodiversity and for coarse-or fine filter planning. In addition, island biogeography, landscape fragmentation, and connectivity need to be considered. For all of these reasons, decisions about developing an NHS are best made at the local level.
Overall, Ottawa is about 1/3 urban, 1/3 agriculture, and 1/3 natural area. There is about 30 per cent forest cover, eight per cent of which is interior forest (over 100 metres from the forest edge). Deep interior forest (even farther from the edge) is most important for the protection of rare species and their habitat. Because of extensive forest fragmentation, such areas are rare near towns. There is about 20 per cent wetland cover, some of which overlaps with the forest cover.
Across the landscape, Ottawa uses four Natural Heritage Designations, said Dr. Stow. The first is natural environmental areas, which are core rural natural landscapes. These are probably the most important reserve areas, and they usually include several key natural features. Examples include the Morris Island Conservation Area, the Burnt Lands Alvar (shared with Mississippi Mills), the Carp Ridge (very similar to our Wolf Grove and Pakenham wetland complexes), the South March Highlands, and the Richmond Fen. Some areas, such as Stoney Swamp and Mer Bleue are part of the Greenbelt Master Plan. Restricted uses apply to these natural environmental areas and development is limited to a single dwelling on an existing lot with road frontage. The second designation is provincially significant wetlands. The third is other rural natural features consisting mainly of woodlands. The last is urban natural features, which are core urban natural areas where no development or site alteration is allowed, and for which priorities for acquisition are subject to budget. The compilation of the various rural land uses becomes part of Schedule A of the Official Plan (OP) and forms the basis for the zoning bylaw, which governs every square foot of the city.
He explained that planning for the protection of natural areas involves several pieces of legislation. The overall vision for Ontario’s Land Use Planning System is provided by the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) under the Planning Act. This indicates, under section 2.1.2, the need to develop and maintain natural heritage systems that include linkages between natural areas. In the next few clauses, it also identifies the restrictions on development and site alteration in the various natural features and their adjacent lands.
As municipalities develop their OPs, their policies (Ottawa’s Natural Heritage policies are shown in their OP under 2.4.2) must be consistent with the PPS, or as dictated by the local situation and vision, and they can be better than these minimum requirements, which Ottawa has done in several cases. The Natural Heritage Manual of OMNR provides further detailed guidance on developing an NHS and on the interpretation of the PPS.
Dr. Stow indicated that the National Capital Commission is a major partner with Ottawa and has been responsible for the development of the Greenbelt Master Plan. In addition, the Nature Conservancy of Canada has partnered with Ottawa and has developed an Ottawa Valley Conservation Plan for the prioritization of lands to consider for conservation and protection. Of interest to us is that part of Mississippi Mills (south of the Pakenham wetland complex) is included in their plan, with several high priority areas indicated in our area, as well as in Ottawa west and Beckwith Township.
As a result of a court challenge by the Greenspace Alliance at the Ontario Municipal Board, the City of Ottawa was recently forced to move from a ‘features’ approach that considered only core natural areas to a ‘systems’ approach, said Dr. Stow. The PPS requires core natural areas to be connected through linkages, in order to integrate them into a fully functioning NHS. Together with their partners, or alone, it has been agreed that Ottawa will identify and map by 2014 existing and conceptual natural heritage linkages at a city-wide scale, including consideration of regional linkages outside the city boundaries.
He showed the various approaches that the city has used to determine the most appropriate locations for these one kilometre-wide linkages, based on a computerized assessment of resistance to movement cost for species across the landscape. Resistance varied from one for woodlands and wetlands, to 20 for lakes and rivers, and 80 to 100 for transportation roads and impervious settled areas.
He ended his talk by presenting a conceptual and integrated framework for stewardship. Part of this showed the need for a special stewardship fund targeted for the protection of sensitive lands, primarily in the rural areas. Such a fund could be used to support stewardship of rural land, for the purchase of conservation easements and, if needed, for the acquisition of critical properties. His last slide showed an example of the problems that can occur when there is no plan in place. As a result of poor development choices southeast of the Carp Ridge, important habitat was lost and a population of Blanding’s turtles became isolated and threatened in the South March Highlands. Both areas involved are natural environmental areas, but a way of reconnecting them is needed. This shows that a good dose of political will is needed when decisions that are important in the long term may, for some, be less popular in the short term.
He cited examples of decisions that have long-term benefits that Ottawa would like to implement: a ban on country lot subdivisions, the adoption of a site alteration bylaw, the implementation of natural linkages, a mineral aggregate resource review, and the acceptance of the overall framework.
An Artist’s Eye On Nature
by Neil Carleton
The 2013-2014 public lecture series of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN), Knowing and Caring Connect Us With Nature, continues January 16 with the 4th presentation, “An Artist’s Eye on Nature.” You are invited to attend.
Above: Aleta Karstad painting “Green Grotto”
Bring along your curiosity and an appreciation for the world of nature to enjoy these lectures. We’ll be exploring the landscape of the region, learning about the wildlife that shares our environment, and considering how best to protect our natural heritage for future generations. Refreshments are offered at each lecture.
Painter Aleta Karstad of Bishops Mills will discuss her connections with nature through artistic expression. She prefers to paint outdoors, to see and feel the depth, movement, quality of time, and place that she seeks to communicate through her art. Her mission is to teach people to love the land and its inhabitants. Aleta will provide an overview of her plein air work with examples, and explain how painting outdoors helps her to see, think about, and be inspired by nature.
She and her husband, naturalist Fred Schueler, recently visited properties of the Nature Conservancy of Canada across the Frontenac Arch during the spring and summer seasons. Also called the Frontenac Axis, this is a 50-kilometre-long extension of exposed Precambrian bedrock that runs through southeastern Ontario and upstate New York from Westport, north of Kingston, to the Thousand Islands. While Fred conducted biological inventories on site, Aleta captured the raw beauty in her paintings. She will be showing and talking about her Frontenac Arch paintings, and selecting one to explain the stages in its creation. Aleta will have advice for beginners, and she’ll be happy to answer questions.
Joni Mitchell’s famous song lyrics, “… you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone,” about paving paradise and putting up a parking lot, remind us to appreciate our natural heritage. Experience appreciation from an artist’s point of view through MVFN’s next presentation, “An Artist’s Eye On Nature” by Aleta Karstad, Thursday, January 16, 7:30 pm at Almonte United Church, 106 Elgin St., Almonte. All are welcome ($5 fee for non-members). For further information please contact Cathy Keddy, MVFN’s Program Chair, at 613-257-3089.
November 20, 2013
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
A first for Canada: Rouge Park to be new National Urban Park in Toronto
by Mary Robinson
John Meek, Heritage Planner for Parks Canada, was the guest speaker for the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) October lecture which took place in Almonte. The theme of MVFN’s lecture series this year is: “Knowing and Caring Connects us with Nature” and Meek’s presentation entitled, “Canada’s First: A National Urban Park in the Rouge Valley” aligned perfectly with this theme.
As background information, Meek summarized the history of the Rouge Park which currently spans 47 square kilometres in the eastern Greater Toronto Area. Meek talked about the movement in the 1990s to protect the Rouge River and its surroundings, the formation of the Rouge Park Alliance by twelve organizations, and the provincial approval of the Rouge Park Management Plan in 1994, which resulted in government commitment and financial support to protect the area. Since then, interest and momentum increased to further protect this unique environment.
What makes the Rouge Park unique? For a city park, it has rich environmental diversity including significant geological outcrops from the interglacial age, spectacular vistas, the rare Carolinian forest and numerous species at risk. The area also features rolling hills and valleys, farmland, a campground, a huge wetland, and a beautiful beach on Lake Ontario.
There is evidence of human history dating back over 10,000 years within the Park. The Rouge River and its valleys, forests and wetlands, along with the animals and plants sustained small nomadic groups, and later on, larger permanent settlements. The remains of a 1600s Seneca village, known as “Bead Hill”, is a sensitive archaeological site within the Park which is not presently open to the public. The Park also includes an original portage route that was created by First Nations peoples, and later used by early European fur traders, explorers and settlers. Today, the Park includes an active farming community and the only working farms in Toronto. The Toronto Zoo is located nearby and sometimes hikers walking in the woods near the Zoo can hear lions roaring. These are but some of the glimpses of the Park that Meek shared, along with many beautiful photographs convincing us that the Rouge Park is, indeed, a very special place.
Who visits the Rouge Park? Hikers, photographers, families, scientists, students, naturalists, tourists, new Canadians and many others all enjoy the Park. Thousands of volunteers and citizen scientists help each year to nurture and protect the area. Planting trees, planting native shoreline vegetation, and monitoring the quality of the streams and rivers are examples of the volunteers’ efforts. In September 2013, the world’s largest Bio Blitz took place in the Rouge Park; hundreds of volunteers identified 762 species of plants, 225 species of birds, 55 species of fish, 27 species of mammals, and 19 species of reptiles and amphibians. Moreover, in each category several of the species identified are rare either locally or nationally.
What activities are available in the Park? People can hike on 18 km of hiking trails and, if they wish, they can take a guided hike. They can canoe, fish, camp, picnic, take photographs, or geo-cache. They can visit some of the working farms, and take part in the many organized events the Park offers throughout the year. Basically people come to connect with nature and cultural history.
So why is the Federal Government, through Parks Canada, taking over now? During the last decade or so, people involved with the Rouge Park recognized the lack of a shared vision and the need for more funding and a new governance structure. In 2010 the Rouge Park Alliance completed a Governance Report which recommended that Parks Canada take over as steward for a national urban park. In 2011 this was cited in the Speech from the Throne and in the 2012 Budget, the Federal Government committed to the further preservation of Canada’s natural beauty through the creation of its first National Urban Park in the Rouge Valley, Ontario.
What land will become part of this new National Urban Park? The proposed National Urban Park will stretch from Lake Ontario in the south to the Oak Ridges Moraine in the north – an area that increases the size of the current Rouge Park by 14%. The proposed area would be 13 times larger than Vancouver’s Stanley Park. Land once owned by Transport Canada is now committed to the new National Urban Park. Some of this land is currently occupied by tenant farmers and commercial tenants through various lease arrangements. The tenants will be allowed to stay on the land and live and work within the new Park boundaries. Some other land, which is owned privately, will be excluded from the Park.
Why will this area be called a National Urban Park and not simply a National Park? One key difference is that it will be managed by way of a different conservation approach than that for National Parks, where natural processes like forest fires or floods are usually allowed to take their natural course. This is not possible in the Rouge Park with it being situated within Canada’s largest city. Moreover, the many tenants who are living within the Park, the two major highways (401 and 407) running through the Park, and its situation close to public transit for 7,000,000 people all make this a unique urban environment, very different from Canada’s National Parks.
What has happened since the announcement in the 2011 Throne Speech? Parks Canada undertook a broad public consultation program and developed the new National Urban Park concept. Their vision is for a “people’s park” which will conserve national heritage, connect people to nature and history, support a vibrant farming community, and maintain and improve the ecological health of the Park. As a “people’s park” it will offer meaningful experiences for visitors with no Park entry fees, although there will be fees for some services such as camping.
What are the next steps for the establishment of Canada’s first National Urban Park? Meek advises that Parks Canada is working with provincial, municipal, Aboriginal and community partners to develop the Management Plan which will provide the overarching guidance for the management of the Park and will outline the delivery of Parks Canada’s mandate. Once in draft form, the Management Plan will be shared for public comment. Parks Canada is also working closely with the public landholders towards a Land Assembly Agreement for the lands included in the proposed park area. In the meantime, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority is the managing authority for the existing Rouge Park, and is working closely with Parks Canada and local municipalities to ensure decisions are made in the best interest of the new Park. A date has not been set for the establishment of the Rouge National Urban Park, however, the existing Rouge Park remains open and is accessible all year round to visitors.
MVFN’s natural history lecture series, Knowing and Caring Connects us with Nature, resumes January 16, 2014 in Almonte. For details visit mvfn.ca.
Photo 1: John Meek, Heritage Planner for Parks Canada, answers questions following his recent talk on Rouge Park to the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) in Almonte. MVFN’s natural history lecture series, Knowing and Caring Connects us with Nature, resumes in January. Photo Pauline Donaldson
Photo 2: The Little Rouge River passing through Rouge Park in Toronto, in what will be Canada’s first National Urban Park. Photo by Anita Payne
Photo 3: A portion of the Vista Trail passing along a narrow ridge between two branches of the Rouge River during an October hike in Rouge Park. Photo Anita Payne
Talking to Gaia, the Goddess of Earth
Lecture report by Jim Bendell
On Sept. 19th members of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists enjoyed a most memorable presentation “From our Backyards to the Boreal and Beyond” by Executive Director of Ontario Nature, Caroline Schultz, as a start to MVFN’s series Knowing and Caring Connects us with Nature. Ontario Nature is a large umbrella organization that identifies and protects wild species and spaces through conservation, education, research, and public engagement. This includes seeking funds and donations, enlisting volunteers, and taking action through: publications, public meetings, hard work, co-operating (when possible) with government and industry, lobbying governments, and taking court actions when wrong is done. The magazine “Ontario Nature” is its flagship publication. It is a charitable organization representing more than 30,000 members and supporters and 140 member groups (such as the MVFN) across Ontario. Moreover, the umbrella shares space with some 23 or more allied organizations. Staff in the divisions of Directors, Conservation and Science, Membership and Development, and Communications are all excellent in what they do and most have university degrees.
Top: Caroline Schultz receives book and thanks from President Cliff Bennett.
Bottom: “Nature needs clubs like yours and your local action,” said Schultz with this slide representing the link between Ontario Nature and MVFN. “We need you to be part of the collective voice [for nature conservation]“. This is particularly true with the current battle over the Endangered Species Act. Photos Pauline Donaldson
Caroline Schultz, Executive Director of Ontario Nature made a powerful presentation to MVFN. Photo Pauline Donaldson
Caroline comes from Arnprior in the Ottawa Valley and was welcomed back by many younger members of the Club. Ms. Schultz developed a deep love of nature along the seashores of County Cork and County Dublin in Ireland where she spent much of her childhood. She later returned to Canada to stay, earning a graduate degree in Ecology from the University of Toronto and a Masters of Management specializing in voluntary sector leadership. Employment in a number of resource firms and environmental organizations including Bird Life International helped relate learning to reality; a useful skill in her present mandate. Young, enthusiastic, personable, and an excellent speaker she and Ontario Nature offer much good knowledge and hope and deserve attention and support.
If Ms. Schultz is not Gaia, perhaps we can call her Mother Nature for that is what the evening was about. She gave an impressive overview of the many and complex aspects of Nature that I can present only briefly here. Nature supports all life and our welfare depends upon its supply. For example, our Boreal Forests are part of the lungs of the world where oxygen is released and carbon dioxide retained to give the air we breathe. Our notions of beauty and truth stem from nature, and our health depends upon it. Surely we should learn about, from, and care for Nature.
We are rich in nature in Ontario compared to Canada and the world. As examples, Ontario contains much of the fresh water and most of the Boreal Forest of the world. Virtually all areas are watered and produce: tundra, conifer and broad-leafed forest, wetland, and treed savannah. Each supports a large biodiversity of plants and animals although all are impacted by man.
Ontario Nature (ON) has worked to identify and inventory all species of wild life and their habitats, recognize special features, and flag those in decline and danger of extinction. A huge task! Examples are the second Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas, and reaching 177,000 records for an Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas. Recognizing that plants and animals, as ourselves, need an adequate home or habitat to survive, ON has worked continuously to provide an enlarge nature reserves especially for special places and sensitive species. They give needed protection, space, resources, and connectivity. By 2005, ON had worked with others to obtain and protect 2.4 million hectares in 378 new parks, helped block development on the Oak Ridges Moraine, and in the establishment of Ontario’s 720,000 hectare Greenbelt. All are high achievements of ongoing work to establish ecological connectivity across Ontario and north and south through the Algonquin to Adirondacks Corridor.
A major accomplishment in 2007 was the passage of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) declared the best in the world. The Act was to identify endangered species and within a restricted period of time implement management plans to sustain them. More good work was done in education, especially of young. Ontario Nature is also “standing up for migratory birds” which Schultz explained are being killed in mass numbers when they crash into tall buildings in Toronto, especially those with reflective glass walls. With Ecojustice, they have taken landlords to court to force them to take mitigating measures, which can reduce mortality by 80%.
While Gaia may be pleased with what has been done there is much that should concern all about the state of Mother Nature. First is climate change. Much of Ontario could become dry grassland and desert. An older threat is the explosive growth of human populations. Most destructive impacts on Nature are caused by us through loss of habitat, consumption, wastes, pollution and pesticides. Our Ecological Footprint shows what we take from nature and return as wastes for our rich lifestyle. Ontario has the 4th largest ecological footprint in the world, with Canada as a whole being 8th. India has a footprint 9% that of Canada! To support our way of life to all people would take 4 planet earths and increasing demand!
Our impact on Nature shows in many ways especially in the decline in abundance and extinction of plants and animals. Since the age of dinosaurs never has the rate of extinction been so high – about 1,000 times or more the natural rate! There are 200 species of plants and animals classified as endangered in Ontario. One is the magnificent Woodland Caribou of the Boreal Forest displaced by logging. Another the American Eel, once throughout southern Ontario, now runs are reduced almost 100% by dams.
Clearly our Nature is diminished and the Endangered Species Act offered hope of recovery. But, unexpectedly, our Liberal Government, in an omnibus bill has proposed sweeping changes in the act that will reduce and weaken its power to save species! Land owners will be exempt and exemptions more freely given. For example, forest operations may avoid environmental constraints for 5 years. According to Ms. Schultz “our environmental protections have been gutted and will hurt Ontario’s most vulnerable species and precious habitats – the wild species you love and wild spaces where you find peace”. Gordon Miller, our Provincial Environmental Commissioner has echoed Ms. Schultz’s outrage on CBC radio and in the Ottawa Citizen. He notes Crown Lands may go to private organizations! Remedial plans for the endangered Snapping Turtle have not left the shelf, while it is hunted with a limit of 2/day. Ontario Nature, along with two other groups is now taking the government to court for “gutting the Endangered Species Act.”
As concerned citizens and naturalists we must act in all ways possible to correct the wrongs of the Government. Shultz told the MVFN audience “Nature needs Clubs like yours and your local action. We value when the grass roots get involved in big issues because then Clubs can use them to fight local battles. We need you to be part of the collective voice.” Write to the Premier and the Minister of Natural Resources. Support Ms. Schultz, Ontario Nature: 214 King Street West, Suite 612, Toronto, ON, M5H 3S6, phone 1-800-440-2366,
Ms. Schultz changed the focus of her talk from aspects in general to what you and I can do to enjoy and work for nature. Get “Ontario Nature”; the magazine for nature. The publication provides spectacular photography and outstanding writing. It covers all aspects of nature with articles by experts, and snapshots of important events such as the recent decline of pollinators including honey and native bees. Many pages discuss how to lessen our ecological footprint and enjoy a fuller, healthier life. One example is to plant a natural garden and landscape to enhance biodiversity. Repeated studies show the shocking numbers of birds killed by free ranging house cats that should be kept indoors. Above all, join the MVFN or a similar group for more speakers like our Mother Nature, fun, friendship and many other good reasons. Call 613-256-6586 or Hope to see you at the next meeting! Jim Bendell.
November 7, 2013
Landscape Design to Benefit Us and Nature
By Cathy Keddy
The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists’ (MVFN) 2013-2014 public lecture series, Knowing and Caring Connect Us to Nature, continues November 21 with the 3rd presentation, “Landscape Design: Long-term Benefits for Us and Nature.” 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.
Photos: From dry to wet, Lanark County is home to a diverse array of natural areas. Top to Bottom: lichen-covered granite rock barrens in Drummond/North Elmsley Township, deciduous woodland near Mississippi Lake (photo courtesy Dan Brunton), kettle bogs east of Flower Station (note turtle tracks across mud), the racing Mississippi River with hackberry-studded bluffs below Carleton Place.
Picture our landscape—hubs of human activity in towns and cities linked to one another by roads, set in a matrix of agricultural and natural land. Hubs are where most of us obtain food, shelter and water, and where we socialize, raise families, and retire. Just like us, wildlife (plants and animals) also relies on hubs for food, water, shelter, and places to reproduce. For wildlife, these hubs include provincial parks, nature reserves, and other large natural areas. Wildlife hubs are called core natural areas. Just like us, animals need to travel in search of food, mates, and resources. By connecting core natural areas with strips of natural habitat (linkages), animals can move between core areas, giving them more living space. So, we can say that natural cores and linkages are like cities and highways for nature.
But that is only part of the story. Natural areas in our landscape not only benefit wildlife— they increase our well-being too! Stop and think about it… Where does the oxygen we breathe come from? Where is water stored on the landscape, and where does our clean drinking water come from? Where do our wild game, fish, maple syrup, and timber come from? Where are the popular places in our area for canoeing, hiking, hunting, skiing, or horseback riding? Downtown Almonte or Perth?
Natural areas also provide us with less tangible cultural, spiritual, inspirational, and educational benefits. What other benefits (goods/services) can you think of that natural areas provide? A list of 5 is good, 10 fantastic.
Continuing to reap these benefits requires that we understand and acknowledge their magnitude and diversity. We must see natural areas as our natural capital stock and give them the weight they deserve in our decision-making processes.
How do we ensure that all these benefits of our natural areas are passed on to our grandchildren and their grandchildren? You must have guessed. We need to maintain the health of the ecosystems they contain that provide these benefits. We need to maintain all the components and interconnecting processes that naturally occur in these ecosystems. We need to maintain (designate and protect from detrimental human activities) a network of linked natural core areas. This is simply part of logical, practical landscape planning to ensure our survival.
Networks of natural areas are being identified and protected in many regions across the province including the Oak Ridges Moraine north and east of Toronto, the Niagara Escarpment, Halton County and, in our neighbourhood, the City of Ottawa. Thus MVFN invited Dr. Nick Stow, ecologist and Senior Planner for Ottawa, to speak about how the City designed its natural heritage system for long term nature conservation.
Joni Mitchell reminds us not to take our natural areas and their benefits for granted, “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.” Learn how they enhance our well-being and understand how we can ensure a harmonious, long-term connection with them. The path forward will be illustrated in MVFN’s next lecture “Landscape Design: Long-term Benefits for Us and Nature” presented by Dr. Stow, Thursday, November 21 at 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.