Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

MVFN Peterson Bluebird Boxes for Sale

The boxes are $20 each and include instructions and mounting screw nails. The bluebird boxes were constructed earlier this week by a team of Mississippi Valley Field Naturalist volunteers led by MVFN’s Conservation and Habitat Restoration Committee.

Thank you to David Garcia and the team of dedicated volunteers who gathered to assemble these houses on Monday and to those who prepared the stacks of cut materials earlier this month.

To order contact:

Al Potvin 613-256-2602 or

Cliff Bennett  613-256-5013 

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Many bluebird boxes built by MVFN have been installed in rural properties over the years and we hope they are helping the bluebird population and other birds.

There are many keys to long-term success with these boxes, especially location, location, location! Please refer to the Ontario Eastern Bluebird Society website at www.oebs.ca for more detailed advice.

NOTE: the MVFN bluebird boxes are based on the Peterson oval design. Studies show that the Peterson oval design is more user-friendly to the Eastern bluebird and has a lower mortality rate than other designs. The truncated conical shape of the nesting cavity reduces the requirement for nesting material; hence less energy is expended by the nester. The thick wooden back and roof acts as a thermal barrier to shield the young from temperature extremes. The oblong entrance hole is the correct dimension for bluebirds and the angled front discourages predators. The front opens for cleaning.

Photos below provided by Allan Brown. A huge thanks to the volunteers!

2016 Bluebird build photo Brown

2016 Bluebird build 1 photo Brown

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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: 

JUNE 1, 2015 A&DHS MEETING POSTER

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MVFN Burnt Lands Alvar Tour

Ken Allison will lead a tour for MVFN members and friends; a spring tour of Burnt Lands Alvar, on Saturday morning, May 30, 2015.

We will spend the morning searching for the special plants that thrive in this habitat, such as Fringed Polygala, Seneca Snakeroot and New Jersey Tea. Hopefully, some of the lady’s-slippers will be in bloom. We will also be looking at any birds and butterflies that are present.

We will be looking at alvar woodland, alvar meadows, alvar wetland, and the regenerating burn site to see a variety of different habitats.

Date: Saturday, May 30, 2015

Time: Meet at location at 7:30 a.m.

Location:  Meet along Golden Line Road beside Burnt Lands Alvar Provincial Park area (marked by signs on the fence) at 7:30 a.m. There is roadside parking.

Bring:  mosquito repellent, binoculars and a camera. Rubber boots are strongly recommended as parts of the alvar can be flooded a few inches deep early in the year and there are patches of poison ivy.

NOTE: You must pre-register for this event. 

To register, please contact Gretta Bradley at  or 613-256-4202.  Please remember to give your name and the event/s you are registering for.

NOTE: If you wish to become an MVFN member or renew, please complete a Membership Form. Memberships dues are very reasonable and include all MVFN events and lectures, as well as supporting MVFN’s many  local conservation and education initiatives.

Photos below are from a May 2009 Burnt Lands Alvar Tour led by Paul Catling (orange shirt). In spite of the nearly constant rain that day, the wonder of the alvar in springtime kept everyone so mesmerized that no one noticed the rain!

May 2009-1 Alvar Walk. photo Pauline Donaldson

May 2009-1 Alvar Walk. photo Pauline Donaldson

May 2009-2 Alvar Walk led by Paul Catling (orange shirt). Photo Pauline Donaldson

May 2009-2 Alvar Walk led by Paul Catling (orange shirt). Photo Pauline Donaldson

May 2009-3 Alvar Walk. Photo Pauline Donaldson

May 2009-3 Alvar Walk. Photo Pauline Donaldson

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