Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Press Release
Missisisippi Valley Field Naturualists
September 21, 2002
Written by: Cliff Bennett

Speaker Helps Field Naturalists Rediscover Trees 

Autumn ColoursThere are probably many ways of looking at a forest, but surely the most manageable method is to focus on a single tree. This was the message delivered by one of Canada’s noted lichenologists Rob Lee, at the first autumn meeting of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists, held recently at the United Church in Almonte.

Rob Lee, an award winning member of the Ottawa Field Naturalists and leader of the Macoun Field Naturalists Club for junior members, told the audience of MVFN members and guests of a ten year project to identify and study individual trees in an NCC forest in West Ottawa.

Entitled “Hooked on Trees”, each Macoun member adopted their own tree ten years ago, sketched and photographed and studied all the field marks, the tree’s attributes and its interaction with the rest of the forest. In subsequent years, the members returned to the forest, found their personal tree and updated their information on it.

Using a series of excellent colour slides, Lee illustrated, for example, a hickory tree adopted by a Macoun member, who listed its age, timing of leaves in spring and fall patterns, how and when it produced nuts and other special features of the tree. By the time the child is ten years older, he will have learned not only the biology of this one tree but, by comparing notes from others, will become very knowledgeable about the entire life of the forest.

MVFN host for the evening Roberta Clarke introduced and thanked Mr. Lee and presented him with a token of appreciation. During the question period, it became evident that Rob kindled much enthusiasm and heightened awareness of trees and forests, something non-naturalist people seem to take for granted.

The next indoor meeting of MVFN is Thursday, Oct. 17 and the guest presenter is noted birding expert Tony Beck. Meanwhile, check out programme details and other nature matters on the MVFN website,

Continue reading...

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
April 23, 2002
Submitted by Cliff Bennett

Lanark County Forest Certification Project

Forest FernA small but enthusiastic group of members of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists met at the Almonte United Church on April 18, to receive an update on Forest Certification. Guest presenter was Scott Davis, coordinator of the Lanark County Forest Certification Project. This meeting was a follow-up to an initial forest certification meeting held by MVFN in October of 2000. MVFN members are always concerned about what happens to our forests.

Scott Davis opened the session with a visual presentation explaining what forest certification was and how the Lanark County Group Forest Certification Project was organized. The Lanark Forest Group Project is a function of the Eastern Ontario Model Forest.

Forest certification is based on the concept of sustainability and provides for 3rd party verification that forest management practices comply with established standards. The programme is voluntary and market based in order to give consumers choice. Through the purchase of certified forest products, the buyer makes the statement of supporting forestry practices that ensure wildlife habitat needs and the environment are not compromised. In Europe, demands for certified forest products greatly exceed the supply.

Scott went on to explain the formation of the Lanark Group Project was to test the feasibility of group FSC forest certification for owners of small woodlots. Funding for the project comes from the Richard Ivey Foundation and is the first of its kind in Ontario. One aim of the Group is to develop non-timber forest products such as maple syrup.

Two local operators, Terry O’Conner of Clayton and Bert Treicher who owns forests around Robertson Lake in Lavant, were introduced as panelists for discussion with the audience. A lively question and answer session followed on topics such as quality of certified products, financial viability and marketing.

The evening was hosted by MVFN member Franziska Von Rosen, who introduced the guest presenters. MVFN member Jim Bendell conducted the question and answer period and presented the guests with a copy of the book Biotic Forest Communities in appreciation.

The next MVFN event is a Spring Nature Walk with host Martha Webber, who will discuss edible wilds. This event will be held on Saturday, May 11. Details available on or the local newspapers. Also coming up; the Annual General Meeting of MVFN, May 16, at Union Hall.

Continue reading...

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
April 21, 2004
Submitted by: MVFN member Rod Bhar

Peregrine Falcon Release Topic at MVFN Meeting

Peregrine FalconThe Peregrine Falcon Recovery Project in Leeds County, Ontario was the subject of the April 15 meeting of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) at the Almonte United Church. Gary Nielsen, the coordinator of the Leeds County Stewardship Council, gave an inspiring talk and slide show to a very enthusiastic audience, describing the recovery project now in its fourth and final year.

Gary explained how the Peregrine project was a cooperative effort between landowners, volunteers, and local businesses. Ideal nesting sites are rare. Peregrines require a southeast-facing cliff at least 80 feet high and moderately clear of vegetation. When the group chose a cliff on the edge of Charleston Lake as a release site, the consent of the private landowner to place a “hack box” atop the cliff was crucial. Volunteers provided hours of labour, building the hack box, fixing it atop the cliff, and monitoring the progress of the Peregrine chicks that were placed within the box. Local businesses contributed free equipment and labour to the project. All money for the project was raised within the local community, including $52,000 in start-up costs and $15,000 in annual on-going costs.

In the first three years of the project eight peregrine falcons have been successfully raised and released from the cliff. Gary emphasized that releasing birds from natural cliff faces is important because the young Peregrines need to imprint on natural nesting sites if they are to breed in the wild. Nesting pairs of Peregrines have been established in cities across the country, but these birds do not nest outside of cities.

As of yet, none of the released Peregrines has been seen breeding in Leeds County. Gary noted that the best time to expect a breeding pair will be in two years after the released birds have had a chance to mature. Where exactly they choose to nest is unpredictable. Gary explained that they could find a cliff site many miles away from the release area in Leeds County.

Gary concluded his presentation by asking for the cooperation of naturalists across eastern Ontario to report any Peregrine sightings that may confirm a new wild nesting pair. Currently there are estimated to be 57 breeding pairs of Peregrines in Ontario.

The speaker was introduced and thanked by MVFN member Rod Bhar, who also presented him with a gift of local honey products. The next MVFN event will be the May 16th visit to Queens University Biological Station at Chaffey’s Locks. Also, the Annual General Meeting, will be held at Union Hall on Thursday, May 20 and an exciting gala evening with Algonquin Park specialist Dan Strickland, will be held May 29, at the Carleton Place Canoe Club. Check out the MVFN website, for more information.

Continue reading...