Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
Submitted by Cliff Bennett
Feb. 23 2003

Growing Food Naturally

SeedlingIn keeping with its broad mandate of concern for our natural world, members and guests of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists were treated to a dynamic presentation on organic farming, at its Feb. meeting, held in Almonte. Bruce and Janet Duncan, who operated a certified organic farm on County Road 17 in Ramsay Ward of Mississippi Mills, enthralled their audience with a slide show of their farm and its operations, complimented by a vivid description of the history of their farm, how they got into organic growing and finally, a description of the current state of organic growing in Canada. They noted that most of their products from their 150 acre farm, are sold locally.

Key to the Duncans’ presentation was the fact that, through maintaining rigid values in organic farming, they are not only enhancing the health of all citizens who consume organic products, they help protect the environment from continual contamination by chemical and artificial agricultural practices. On their organic farm, the Duncans grow a diversity of crops, using low and no till operations, all without the use of pesticides and herbicides. As a result, critters on and in the ground are not poisoned nor are the birds which eat them.

Introduced by MVFN Chair of Environmental Issues Susan Fisher, Janet and Bruce entertained questions from the audience which lasted well over one half hour. In thanking them, Susan presented the Duncans with a gift of an environmental book. Refreshments were served after the meeting.

The next MVFN event will be a meeting on Thursday March 20, at which noted birder and naturalist Paul Jones, will present documentation and slides on the current on-going Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas.

Continue reading...

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
January 4, 2003
Written by: Cliff Bennett

OwlThe 58th Annual Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count took place on Friday, Dec. 27. The count area, centred on the bridge in Carleton Place, includes areas almost to Innisville, Ferguson Falls and Union Hall, Almonte, east to Dwyer Hill Road, South to Ashton and Franktown. Twenty-nine field observers took to the rural roads, trails and woodlots and, during the course of the day, counted 5600 individual birds of thirty-nine different species. In addition, thirty-seven residents with feeders at home, counted a further 1012 birds bringing the total for the day to 6612.

The results of this count, which can be viewed on, were slightly lower in species but higher in numbers from previous years. Record high numbers of mourning doves, northern flicker, blue jays, robins, starlings and cedar waxwings were tallied. All finches were very low and, for the first year since 1970, there were no evening grosbeaks around.

The Carleton Place count is sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists. MVFN Past-President Cliff Bennett organized the teams and areas of the count. MVFN member Georgina Doe coordinated the feeder counts, assisted by MVFN member Libby Goddard. MVFN member Mike Jaques was the official compiler.

Taking part as counters in the field were Al Potvin, Chris Hume, Tine Kuiper, Mike McPhail, Paul Frigon, Pip Winters, Mary and Howard Robinson, Allan and Peter Goddard, Lynda Bennett, all from Mississippi Mills; Don Brown, Rick Muise, Ken and Eileen Ross, all from Ottawa; Bruce Legallais, Bobby and John Clarke, Lanark Highlands; Mike and Joyce Jaques, Arnie Simpson, Joel Byrne, from Beckwith; Brenda Carter, Ed LeBlanc and Rick Carter, Merrickville and Ian and Susan Wilkes, Carleton Place.

Results of the count are as follows:

Canada Goose (8), Mallards (4), Common Goldeneye (16), Common Merganser (24), Sharp-shinned hawk (1), Red-tailed Hawk (6), Rough-legged Hawk (5), Ruffed Grouse (10), Rock Dove (656), Mourning Doves (376), Snowy Owl (1), Downy Woodpecker (71), Hairy Woodpecker (59), Northern Flicker (2), Pileated Woodpecker (9), Northern Shrike (3), Blue Jay (642), Crow (249), Ravens (8), Black-capped Chickadee (866), Red-breasted Nuthatch (4), White-breasted Nuthatch (101), Brown Creeper (5), Golden-crowned Kinglet (4), Robins (338), Starlings (1290), Bohemian Waxwing (21), Cedar Waxwing (432), Tree Sparrows (325), Song Sparrow (1), White-crowned Sparrow (1), Junco (123), Snow Bunting (352), Cardinal (61), Purple Finch (80), House Finch (112), Common Redpoll (30), Goldfinch (146), House Sparrow (170).

Continue reading...

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
November 5, 2002
Submitted by: Cliff Bennett

Field Naturalists Focus On Community Forest Plan  

TreeWhen the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources downloaded management of County forests to County governments last year, the County of Lanark decided to appoint a team of three experts (The Management Team) to set up a Business Plan to manage the lands. Part of the team’s mandate was to involve the public in consultations throughout the process. Recently, the management team, produced a draft of the plan and sent it out to various groups for comments. Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) was one of those groups.

MVFN has been involved with the process since the beginning. They attended public meetings and responded to survey questionnaires. MVFN member and Chair of the MVFN Natural Resources Issues Committee Dr. Jim Bendell, participated on the plan’s advisory committee. Recently, a small group of interested MVFN members met to pour over the Draft Plan and submit it’s comments on behalf of MVFN.

Key to the response to the Draft Plan was an appeal for inventory of all of the natural aspects of the community forested lands, recognizing that good management of these resources cannot proceed in an orderly way without knowing what is there. In a call for a broadening of the vision for our community lands, MVFN also appealed to the County for more public input into the final document before it goes to County Council on Nov. 13, for approval.

Recognizing that our community forested lands contain more values that just timber production, values such as tourism, recreation, social and spiritual attributes, MVFN recommends that these lands always remain within the public domain on behalf of the people of Lanark County.

MVFN welcomed the opportunity to participate in this important challenge and offers to help to advance the cause in anyway it can. Overall, MVFN congratulates the Management Team of Jim McCready, David Oliver and Chair and chief facilitator Gord Harrison for championing this project. Through their efforts and the process, the public is now aware that these lands exist.

Continue reading...

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...

Wetland Protection Policies recommended by MVFN (2002)
Here is the final wording arrived at regarding protection of locally significant wetland  resources in Mississippi Mills, which was submitted on Friday September 13, 2002 to the Mississippi Mills Official Plan Steering Committee.Thank you to the dozen or so members who sent in comments and suggestions.

Recommendations from Preliminary Issues Report from MVFN.

This report was arrived at through a group meeting with representative from Ducks Unlimited, follow-up requests for comments from group members, Federation of Ontario Naturalists, Canadian Environmental Law Association, OMNR officials and members of MVFN plus research of relevant documents and publications. (See references below)

Issue 3.1 statement 1

…………should we protect locally significant wetlands (LSW’s)?

1) It was a unanimous “yes”. MM should establish a policy of precaution-protection until adequate and informed data and science is available to better understand the function and value of  wetlands locally and within a watershed context.

2) The group felt we should make the first entry in the OP not too detailed but to build in triggers or flags that would show up in site-specific cases concerning LSW’ s.

3) Consultation, connectivity and education should be the main process used in protection of our wetlands.

4) Locally Significant Wetlands (LSW’s) should be identified, through a classification process. The most significant ones should be on an initial list in the OP, with provision for additions at later dates though amendment to the OP.

5) Most locally significant wetlands (4-7) have already been identified by MNR. These should be our initial list entered in the OP.

6) Stewardship Council, field naturalists, Ducks Unlimited, local Fish and Game Clubs, landowners  and EAC should be involved in the education process.

7) A buffer zone should be mentioned but not defined except in definition section. Buffer requirements should be site specific as each case arises.

8 ) At least initially, only permanent LSWs should be considered for listing.

9) Strong recognition of land owners as stewards should be registered in the OP.

10) References must be made to other relevant Acts i.e.: Drainage, Riparian Rights etc.

11) We should steer clear of the beavers issue and also temporary wetlands.

12) Paramount is recognition of importance of all wetlands in their role of protecting and enhancing the ground water.

13) Private landowners impacted by enforcement of regulations concerning LSWs should be considered for compensation where applicable

14) As the natural heritage policy, as set forth in the PPS, allows for varying degrees of protection at the municipal level, MM should take a progressive approach and strive for the Pathfinder Policies level.

15) As MM is divided almost in half between the Canadian Shield and St.Lawrence/Great Lakes Lowland significant areas, it is the recommendation of this report that the PPS concerning Canadian Shield wetlands be adopted for all of MM.

16) Issues involving LSWs should be discussed with land owner groups on a continuing basis.

17) MM must strive for broad public support on wetland policies implementation.    


Ducks Unlimited-Scott Muir, Jamie Fortune (Ducks Unlimited is conducting a pilot project to test new technologies for wetland identification and delineation. Results should be available by year’s end.)

Federation of Ontario Naturalists, Linda Pimm.

Canadian Environmental Law Society-Theresa McLenaghan

OMNR-Shaun Thompson

Natural Heritage Planning Policy in Ontario-A Review of County and Regional Plans Aug. 1999

Natural Heritage Reference Manual for PPS 2.3    OMNR June, 1999

Rural Wetlands in Ontario-A Guide to Landowners-Ducks Unlimited

Caring For Your Land-A Stewardship Handbook-University of Guelph 1998

Environmental Commissioner’s Reports-All issues

Submitted by Cliff Bennett on behalf of MVFN    

Continue reading...