Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley


The spring birds have finally started arriving in force!  Perhaps you’ve had an urge to provide a unique home for our local resident birds, but haven’t acted on that urge yet.

You have another week to create a useful, decorative birdhouse, or a strictly decorative birdhouse and then donated\ it to the Birdhouse Blowout. Funds raised by the online auction of donated birdhouses will provide one or more $1,000 bursaries from the MVFN Cliff Bennett Nature Bursary fund.

Register your donations, before the deadline on April 9. It’s a great COVID project to keep your mind on the important things in life, such as the wildlife around us.

For more information on the Birdhouse Blowout contact Glenda Jones at (613) 256-6479 or to take a peek at what people have already donated check out the auction site.

MVFN Board of Directors hope you will support this worthy cause in any way you can, or support the Bursary directly by making an on-line or mailed-in donation to the:  MVFN Cliff Bennett Nature Bursary Fund.

Get Creating!

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Happening in Mississippi Mills – Birdhouse Blowout




Two of our volunteer community leaders, Glenda Jones and Barbara Carroll, have resurrected a wonderful fundraising program, the Handmade Bird Houses Silent Auction.  Very fortunately for MVFN, it has been decided that the proceeds this year will go to the MVFN Cliff Bennett Nature Bursary Fund.

Every year, the Bursary Committee awards one or more $1,000 bursaries to graduating high school students from our local area who are entering a nature-related program in college or university.  This Bursary fund relies totally on fundraising activities and tax-deductible donations.  Because of MVFN’s reduced in-person activities in the past year, we are in great need of a fresh infusion of funds for this 14-year old Bursary, which has assisted many local students with their college/university finances.  The more money the fund has, the more scholarships we can award!

We encourage you to help out in this fun winter activity in one or more of these ways:

  • build a bird house
  • find an existing birdhouse and decorate it
  • buy a birdhouse and decorate it
  • build a birdhouse and decorate it
  • cajole your children/grandchildren/neighbours/friends to participate in creating a decorated birdhouse with you, or on their own
  • bid on your favourite birdhouse (or two!)

Please follow this link to MVFN’s website, where there are more detailed instructions on how to get involved. To see some of the birdhouses that have already been donated check out the auction site.

MVFN Board of Directors hope you will support this worthy cause in any way you can, or support the Bursary directly by making an on-line or mailed-in donation to the:  MVFN Cliff Bennett Nature Bursary Fund


Tear Drop                                                                 Double the pleasure

Donated by  Gary Beaucaire                                           Donated by Neil McBride

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MVFN Concludes Campaign to Influence Proposed Development on Burnt Lands Alvar

The almost year-long efforts of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) to oppose a proposed small development at the southern edge of Burnt Lands Alvar on Golden Line Road in Ramsay Ward, came to a conclusion with an Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) hearing on December 7, 2015. The MVFN alvar team fought for changes to the development right up to about a week before the hearing, when they withdrew from the hearing after exhausting all of their options.

Allison Alvar walk 2015, photo by Pauline Donaldson

Allison walk ram's head (1280x960)The County of  Lanark and the Municipality of Mississippi Mills Official Plans allow cluster-lot developments within the alvar  (even though it is a sensitive area and a designated Area of Natural and Scientific Interest) if an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) is conducted and steps are taken to mitigate environmental damage to the footprint of the development. As these steps had been shown in the original application, the proposed development project had been approved conditionally and could proceed. It was on these grounds that MVFN felt it could make an impact by opposing the project as planned. The MVFN alvar team strove to force many improvements to the EIS for the proposed development.

By opposing the development, MVFN has raised awareness of the public as to the existence of the Burnt Lands Alvar, its location, what an alvar is, and the unique and fragile ecosystems which make Burnt Lands Alvar an ecological treasure.  Also, MVFN’s opposition to this particular development has arguably influenced the local municipality to begin processes to change its Community Official Plan and accompanying Zoning By-Laws to ensure future similar development schemes cannot occur on regulated lands in Mississippi Mills.

A significant impact of MVFN’s alvar appeal was to have three additional on-site visits by ecologists and other experts take place, in late spring, summer and early autumn. These field studies added significantly to the developer’s previous EIS study, which had included only one cursory assessment of the Alvar ecology. Two other important concessions were achieved by the MVFN team, to place the roadway in the least damaging location, and the other to change the location of the turning circle, also to minimize impact. Other positive influences from the MVFN team can be seen throughout the final EIS report.

The Alvar OMB team, led by MVFN member Tineke Kuiper, included several qualified specialists and other supporting persons. Key to the effort was a team of lawyers from the Canadian Environment Law Association, which was provided free of costs to MVFN.

The other significant component of MVFN’s appeal effort was the MVFN fund-raising team, led by MVFN Chair of the Environmental Issues Committee Theresa Peluso. They conducted an amazing fund-raising campaign which allowed the MVFN Alvar team to hire a planner and two ecologists and pay other related costs. When final invoices are in, the MVFN Finance Committee will publish a financial statement.

Although MVFN had withdrawn their appeal prior to the hearing, MVFN President Cliff Bennett and a member of the lawyer team, attended the short OMB hearing as a professional courtesy. The final judgments of the OMB will be handed down by mid-January and a final MVFN report will be issued at that time. For any enquiries on MVFN’s involvement in this project, please contact Cliff Bennett at 613 256-5013 or .

Photos by Pauline Donaldson were taken during a 2015 walk on Burnt Lands Alvar led by Ken Allison .

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MVFN Rock Elm Tree Sale

rock elmHelp to make the world a little greener!

Plant hardy, hand- raised Rock Elm. They are now about 50 cm tall and are growing in biodegradable peat pots for third year.

Price:  $3.00 each. These are for planting, ideally, in groups of up to five. Planting instructions supplied.

How to place your order: Phone or email your order to MVFN’s David Garcia:  613-256-6299 or

Pick up date will be Saturday, June 20, at 12 noon at Almonte Lawn Bowling Club, 157 Robert St. corner of Robert and Ann Streets in Almonte.

For more information, please contact David.

Note: Rock elm, once plentiful in our area, almost all disappeared due to harvesting for ship building, construction and furniture making. Moderately fast growing, they live for at least 125 yrs. and grow single, straight trunks 15-25 metres tall. Like other elms, they succumb to Dutch elm disease but are hardier.

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The Beauties of the Burnt Lands

The Almonte and District Horticultural Society (A&DHS) is hosting a talk by Brian Carson about the alvar! This will take place on Monday night, June 1. The meeting will also feature a mini flower show including photography.

Brian Carson and the horticultural society have generously decided to donate several speaker honorariums to MVFN’s Burnt Lands Alvar Campaign!

Even if you are not a member of the A&DHS, you may attend (your first meeting as a non-member is free) and perhaps also decide to support the society by joining, if you are not already a member, for the very reasonable membership fee of $10. The horticultural society usually hosts its meetings the fourth Monday of the month, but this will be an extra one in June. New members are welcome to join at any meeting.

Contact person for more information is A&DHS President Carol Kenward: 


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