Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Climate Change Presentations by MVFN to Local Municipal Councils in Spring 2009

By the close of spring of 2009 the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists will have completed a series of  presentations on Climate Change Awareness and Adaptation to the Stewardship Council of Lanark County, the Mississippi-Rideau Source Water Protection Committee and to the municipal Councils of Mississippi Mills, Lanark Highlands, Carleton Place, Tay Valley, North Frontenac, Ottawa, Drummond-North Elmsley, and Beckwith.

The purpose of the presentations is to communicate the details of the findings of a two-day workshop, called “Weathering Climate Change”, held in September 2007 in Almonte, Ontario. Emerging from this workshop is the 2008 publication “From Impacts Towards Adaptation – Mississippi Watershed in a Changing Climate.” The document captures much of the key information and feedback from the workshop. The presentations were made by MVFN’s Environmental Issues Committee Chaired by Bill Slade and with presentations by members Howard Robinson and Cliff Bennett

Based on the discussion and feedback at the workshop and as documented in the publication, MVFN is aware that evidence shows the climate is already changing and that it will continue to change. Thus there is a need to plan for the impact of the future changes. Local strategies for action should be developed with assistance of the conservation authorities.

Please click on the following link to view summary slides of MVFN’s 2009 presentations to Councils and which contains links to other source material for further information and study: Adapting to Climate Change in the Mississippi Watershed 

Click the following for copy of the 2008 publication:  From Impacts Towards Adaptation-Mississippi-Watershed In a Changing Climate

 

 

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Uranium Exploration/Mining Risks to Source Water Protection Areas

Due to the recent activity of uranium exploration companies, several Source Water Protection (SWP) regions in Eastern Ontario are potentially at risk. Uranium exploration companies have been active in the Mississippi-Rideau watershed as well as in Haliburton and West Quebec. Additional areas may in time be affected by uranium exploration when one considers data from Geological Surveys.

Beginning in June 2007 MVFN has been involved in raising awareness of issues relating to the environmental risks posed by uranium mining in the Mississippi-Rideau SWP region. For a historical review of MVFN’s involvement and the issue see an article http://mvfn.ca/?p=415 posted here in January.

Later at the inaugural meeting of the Mississippi Rideau Source Water Protection (MSRWP) committee in January 2008, a member inquiry was tabled by MRSWP Committee member Patricia Larkin requesting that a report be prepared to provide a better understanding of the “potential impacts of uranium exploration, mining and processing in Eastern Ontario and the legislative scope of the Clean Water Act to respond to these concerns”. They were also to inform neighboring SWP regions. We informed other NGO members of the Water Guardians Network, of the issue. The following other SWP regions should be most aware: Quinte, South Nation, Cataraqui and the ‘Trent Conservation Coalition.’

The local conservation authority has also produced a preliminary staff report with regards to the threat posed by uranium exploration and mining in the MRSWP region. This report and the member inquiry can be found in the minutes of the February 7, 2008 meeting of the MRSWP Committee (a large pdf file) at the following link http://mrsourcewater.ca/committee/agendas_minutes/Feb72008AgendaPackage.pdf.

We have also posted  CItizens’ Uranium Inquiry Submission Sharbot Lake April 1, 2008 to provide a wider context for the issue as it may affect neighbouring SWP regions . Please note this is also a large pdf file.

Howard Robinson, MVFN

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Perspective on Uranium Exploration and Mining in the Mississippi Watershed
-summary report prepared Jan 12, 2008
by Howard Robinson (VP, MVFN)

Issue:
Concerns about the exploration of Uranium in North Frontenac township range from First Nations land disputes, environmental concerns, clean drinking water, clean air, species at risk, property prices, impact on Tourism and the local exploration work opportunities. The following is written from a Source Water Protection focus and the natural environment.

Background:
Frontenac Ventures Corporation (FVC) has claim staked 30,000 acres of both private and crown land for the purpose of Uranium exploration. The company is now in the latter stages of exploration and they plan to take core samples in strategic areas on the property. The claimed property includes various small lakes, wetlands as well as the eastern shore and part of Crotch Lake.

The main stem Mississippi River flows through the staked property. Carleton Place is the first town on the river that takes water from the Mississippi River some 30km downstream (2 day water flow). The Mississippi River then flows through Almonte (Aquifer water supply) to the Ottawa River where Ottawa takes its water supply. There are private wells adjacent to the prospected area but there are no municipal wells in close proximity. The creation of future municipal wells in the area should be considered if exploration continues. The Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority has taken the initiative to conduct a well-water quality sampling program to obtain a general understanding of the ground water conditions in the staked mining exploration area and to obtain a water quality baseline.

First Nations and their supporters are calling for a moratorium on Uranium exploration and mining in Eastern Ontario to protect the natural environment, including public heath with regards to air and water quality should Uranium be extracted or disturbed from the rock. Numerous townships, Counties and organizations have provided letters of support for the moratorium.

FVC was blocked (since June 28th 2007) from entering the property owing to a peaceful blockade by local First Nations groups along with supportive non-natives or settlers. The First Nations has a land claim on most of the property however the Provincial government under the Mining Act has allowed a land use permit to FVC. FVC obtained a Provincial court injunction which was served giving the company access to the property for non-drilling work pending the outcome of mediation talks between the Provincial and Federal Governments, Algonquin First Nations and Frontenac Ventures Corporation. The process is currently scheduled to expire on January 28th 2008 unless extended.

Concerns:
While current exploration activity may not directly affect municipal water systems covered by the Clean Water Act because of dilution over proximity distance, it may have an impact on private wells in the area and general airborne contamination. Other concerns related to source water protection include the safety of tailings ponds from natural causes or human accidents.

According to the Geological Survey of Canada the areas of Uranium significance cover a much larger area in Eastern Ontario and West Quebec. These zones also map into adjacent Source Water Protection regions. If current prospecting results prove feasible, then more exploration could result. Another exploration company ‘RJK’ is also actively exploring in the Mississippi Valley.

Recommendation:
From a Clean Water Act perspective, ‘No risk’ is preferred to ‘Low risk’. A possible solution would be to place a moratorium on Uranium exploration, mining and processing within the Source Water Protection (SWP) Regions until the risks are fully understood and mitigated. See the following link for a mapping of current Source Water Protection regions.
http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/en/water/cleanwater/cwadocs/map1.pdf

MVFN Involvement:
As Stewards for the Natural environment and member of the Water Guardians Network in conjunction with the Clean Water Act, MVFN has escalated several major concerns to appropriate agencies as well as writing the Premier and applicable ministries.

• The above concern was first reported as a potential threat to Water Guardians and our Conservation Authority associated with Source Water Protection in June 2007. For Information on the Water Guardians Network see http://www.thewaterhole.ca/home.htm

• Our MVFN representative is active on the newly formed Source Water Committee (SWC) for our Source Water Protection (SWP) region. A member Inquiry was successfully introduced on the above subject at the inaugural meeting Jan 10th 2008 which was unanimously accepted by the committee, thereby making the inquiry official for our local conservation authority. For more information on Source Water Protection in our watershed see http://mrsourcewater.ca/welcome/index.html

From an environmental perspective, the Algonquin to Adirondack (A2A) Conservation PDF Iconinitiative would be impacted if mining is established. Uranium zones shown by the Geological Survey of Canada demonstrate this impact when mapped to the plan. The mapping of this concern is shown as slides in uranium-zones-in-a2a.pdf  This concern has been escalated and accepted by the A2A association and that of Ontario Nature through the Western director. For more information on the A2A Conservation Initiative see http://www.a2alink.org/index.html

• MVFN members have privately or through other organizational associations provided input to the Provincial Government Environmental Registry for the review of the current claim staking and mineral exploration process as part of the Mining Act as of September 26th 2007. The government is proceeding through the review process on this topic. For more information see EBR 010-1018 at http://www.ebr.gov.on.ca/ERS-WEB-External/displaynoticecontent.do?noticeId=MTAxMDIx&statusId=MTUwOTE1&language=en

Other Information Links:

• For information on Frontenac Ventures Corporation see http://www.frontenacventures.com Unfortunately corporate information on their exploration details at on this link appears to have been removed at this time.

• For more information mainly with respect to the science of Uranium see http://ccamu.ca/

• Research Information site for Dr Gordon Edwards of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility
http://www.ccnr.org/

• Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission http://www.nuclearsafety.gc.ca/eng/

• Uranium Activity in Ontario per the following ministry poster http://www.mndm.gov.on.ca/mndm/mines/ogs/posters/PDAC_07/PDAC_Uranium_2007.pdf
** A warning for dial-up users. The Poster is a large detailed file greater than 2.5MB.

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Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
January 29, 2007
by Howard Robinson

Linda Touzin Meets the Challenge for Best Forestry Practices While Protecting the Watershed

See Linda’s Recommended Links for information on how to keep your woodlot healthy

Linda Touzin from the MNRThe Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) continued its lecture series of talks related to the “Mississippi Valley Watershed”. On 18rd January the lecture was well attended, by woodlot owners and others, with Linda Touzin presenting valuable and interesting information on “Managing forests to protect the watershed”.
The Mississippi Valley, Ms. Touzin said, has a very high percentage of wooded area compared to other developed parts of Ontario. It must be well managed in order to acquire wood products in a sustainable fashion without severely impacting the environment including our watershed.

There is much evidence of a cleaning effect for streams that pass through forests. It is hard to put a value on streams, wetlands and other kinds of ‘natural capital’. On the other hand it is easy to understand the economic value of woodlands and wood as a natural and renewable resource continues to increase in value.

The Mississippi Valley is in the Mazinaw-Lanark crown forest management unit and is the most southerly such unit in Canada . One third is Crown land and the rest is private. A sustainable harvest is guided by an extensive forestry plan covering a 20 year period with a view looking beyond 100 years. A detailed plan, which may take 2.5 years to produce, includes a lengthy consultation process and public input. Healthy collaboration with all concerned is a key part of the plan, with concerns generally met through guidelines based on science and core values.
While the plan is for a sustainable harvest, the operational plan and ‘silviculture system’ used have many considerations for protection of the environment and its watershed. Road building and logging must avoid damage to the watershed from run off, soil erosion with its excess nutrients and operational degradation. Heavy machinery around the watershed is avoided and a 30 metre minimum buffer is left near watersheds. Depending on the incline to the water and soil type, this buffer is increased.

Most harvesting is done on a partial cutting system where there is a general ‘thinning’ of trees of various ages suitable for wood products. The forest is left to regenerate with an ‘acceptable growing stock’ i.e. mix of age and trees known to help improve the forest and value of the resource. Danger trees may be taken down but care is also taken to identify all ‘forest values’ such as nesting sites, cold-water streams, vernal pools, or rare species which will be left with a ‘no-cut’ buffer. Harvesting is not done during the nesting season. Clear cutting done over ~ 17% of the area currently, involves primarily short life tree types that may be predominant in an area (e.g. Birch) and which will regenerate.

Linda demonstrated her excellent knowledge and experience as a Registered Professional Forester and answered many good questions from both MVFN members and others interested in private woodlot management. Linda stressed that sustainable forest management can be practiced by private landowners using the same best practices used by OMNR on crown lands. The information and tools are readily available and with public involvement in public processes we can all make a difference.

The signs of a healthy forest were described as having a diversity of species appropriate for the eco-site, vigorously growing native trees, forest values protected from timber harvest operations, having a variety of types and ages of trees and habitat features while also having demonstrated careful logging practices.

Finally, Linda advised those with wood lots to KEEP THEM, walk through all corners of your property making an inventory, keep good species, remove exotics, and whenever and wherever possible increase your woodlot or connect it with others. Make a plan for your woodlot and then choose consultants and tree markers accordingly, based on your plan and what you value most in your woodlot.

If you want to know how to keep a woodlot healthy or where landowners can turn for help, Linda’s recommended links are posted on MVFN’s website at www.mvfn.ca.

MVFN’s lecture series continues Thursday February 15th with Paul Hamilton of the Canadian Museum of Nature who will discuss “Water Quality”, 7:30 p.m. at the Almonte United Church, 106 Elgin Street in Almonte.

For more information please contact Joyce Clinton at 613-257-4879 or , or visit www.mvfn.ca.

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