Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

2013 Spring Gathering: Looking Back and Looking Ahead: Nurturing our National Nature

Nurturing our national nature in Canada’s National Parks, a lecture report by Mary Robinson

At the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) 25th anniversary Spring Gathering an inspirational presentation “Looking Back and Looking Ahead: Nurturing Our National Nature” was presented by Éric Hébert-Daly, National Executive Director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS). This year CPAWS celebrates 50 years of its collaborative approach to conservation. By keeping in touch with 13 chapters active locally across Canada they see national tendencies. They have helped protect over half a million square kilometres of wilderness by helping government, industry and First Nations. Approximately 90% of Canada’s lands and waters are public, but only 10% is protected; CPAWS’ long-term goal is to increase this to 50%.

In his presentation, Hebert-Daly talked in depth about three key shifts in the approach to conservation in Canada’s National Parks in the last 25 years. These three key shifts are: a shift in focus to ecological integrity instead of visitor experience, a shift from unilateralism to multilateralism in planning and decision making, and a shift from islands to networks with respect to interconnection and geography of protected areas.

Challenges to keeping a focus on ecological integrity

In discussing the first shift, Mr. Hébert-Daly spoke about Canada’s first national park, Banff National Park, created 127 years ago. When the railway was being built into the west, workers discovered the wonderful hot springs at Banff. When the government heard about this natural wonder they realized it could be a great attraction for visitors to Canada, especially Europeans interested in the ‘wild’ nature of Canada. At that time, wilderness with its untouched natural beauty represented the countries ‘soul’ and could be used to show-case Canada. This was the primary reason the National Park program began.

In time, more parks were created and activities such as camping, hiking and canoeing became synonymous with Canada’s parks. People loved them and came from all over the world. Infrastructures to support the cars, campers, food and waste had to be created. Eventually we began to lose sight of the ecological values of our parks and the environment and wildlife people were coming to see started to disappear.

CPAWS came into existence in 1963, to monitor and save the nature within the parks and preserve it for future generations. In the 1980s and 1990s CPAWS and local partners in Banff pushed hard to prevent Park encroachment by developers of the Banff town site.

This led to a National Panel on the Ecological Integrity of our National Parks. Scientists and conservationists came together in a consensus report recommending that ecological integrity become the first priority in park management; the National Parks Act was changed accordingly. Scientists were hired by Parks Canada, and ecological monitoring and measurement became a reality. This model was the first in the world and was adopted by other countries such as Korea, the U.S. and Australia.

Looking forward, however, this priority is being challenged. Parks Canada has suffered massive cut-backs and scientists have been “shown the door”. As a result, the monitoring and evaluation in Canadian Parks is not taking place. Moreover, developmental pressures in our National Parks are being felt again. The private sector is getting involved in ways that are not always successful. To illustrate, Mr. Hébert-Daly showed a slide of the Jasper Discovery Walk – a massive glass-bottom platform, overhanging a cliff in Jasper National Park. The intent is to offer visitors an unobstructed view of wildlife. However, animals such as mountain goats, who are natural climbers, will not migrate into an area with an artificial overhang such as that. This example shows we still need increased vigilance regarding development and infrastructures within our parks. Another problem is that boundaries of the parks are not recognized by wildlife. At this point, Eric showed a slide of a baby caribou, possibly within a National Park. Not only do we need to protect what is inside the Parks, we also need to consider the impact of development outside the Parks. Our speaker showed a slide of Gros Morne National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. There is a proposal for oil fracking oil off the coast, just 100 metres outside the Park. Clearly, we need buffer zones around the Parks, including coastal and marine buffer zones, so the entire ecosystem remains healthy and survives.

Unilateralism to Multilateralism in Consultation and Planning

The second big shift around conservation efforts was the shift from a unilateral approach to planning and decision making to one that is multilateral and includes all ‘stakeholders’. In the early 1900’s park creation was done on a very ad-hoc basis without much logic or thought, sometimes with a reckless “wild west” mentality. Later, in the 1970’s more thought was put into the big picture and a decision was made to create a network of National Parks representing each of the distinct eco-regions in Canada. Presently there are 42 National Parks, and 26 of the 39 distinct ecoregions are represented. It was revolutionary to develop such a concept that would drive park creation nationally.

In the past, indigenous First Nations communities were ignored in the creation of Parks. Hebert-Daly related a story from the 1970s, about a small Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation community on the East Arm of Great Slave Lake accessible only by boat or plane. People from Ottawa made an unannounced visit and informed the community leader of their plans to develop a National Park there. He listened and then escorted them back to their plane and asked them to leave. From then on Hebert-Daly says, “to those First Nations people, the word ‘Park’ became a ‘four-letter’ word” as they feared for their right to their land and the conversion of their home lands into a public campground. The approach to conservation in those years was clearly unilateral and many ‘bridges were burned’. In recent years, the process is much more multilateral. Time is taken to consult those impacted and the decision to create a national park is lengthy. However, when there is an upwelling of community support for it, things can happen quickly, and remain inclusive.

For example, the same community on the East Arm of Great Slave Lake is now in negotiations with Parks Canada to create a co-managed National Park where they will be the interpreters and lead the eco-tourism initiatives. A new 30,000 square kilometre park to be named Thaidene Nene (Land of the Ancestors) is to be announced soon. This will be a fully co-managed National Park and an economic model for future generations. Hébert-Daly showed a slide of the beautiful Ts’akui Theda (Lady of the Falls) waterfalls within the proposed Thaidene Nene. It is a traditional pilgrimage and spiritual site for healing and prayer. A traditional story, explains that centuries ago First Nations people out hunting for a giant beaver that was destroying their homeland, left behind a beautiful woman. She had asked for some of the beaver blood but was not given any, so she stayed behind at the falls to heal and console people. Large ancestors of modern day beavers lived thousands of years ago in the area and skulls of these massive animals have been found.

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A waterfall in beautiful Thaidene Nene, a 30,000 square kilometre proposed National Park near the East Arm of Great Slave Lake. It will be a fully co-managed National Park and an economic model for future generations. Photo David Murray

A shift from islands to networks (but including some urban islands)

The third shift in conservation approach is from islands to networks. In the past efforts were made to protect a particular ecologically, culturally or spiritually significant area on its own. However, there needs to be interconnectivity, between individual areas or islands in order to create networks which will maintain ecological integrity, for example for adequate migration and mixing of individuals within a population. Remember the baby caribou? Creating a Caribou Recovery Strategy is only the first step in caring for this species. We need to take care of entire eco-systems to ensure survival of herds.

We need to look at the bigger picture. Land-use planning, considered by many a boring topic, will be critical for examining the landscape as a whole. All relevant players should be at the table deciding on the best possible use of the land. Where are the resources of interest and the conservation values? How can viable economic development, roads and infrastructure, and ecological integrity co-exist.

We need to examine what we value in our culture. We tend not to attribute an economic value to two of our most important resources: clean water and air – the very things that keep us alive and healthy. CPAWS is supporting David Suzuki and his 30 x 30 Nature Challenge for Canadians to get outside in nature for 30 minutes for 30 days in May. This is increasingly important when approximately 80% of Canada’s population lives in the cities and our population is becoming increasingly diverse with immigrants arriving from places which did not offer experiences of wilderness or familiarity with the benefits for wildlife and people.

Canada is fortunately taking interesting approaches to ensuring that everyone can get ‘back to nature’. This includes creating some island parks which are not connected to others, but will nevertheless serve a vital purpose. Rouge National Urban Park, in the middle of Toronto, is a new National Park which will be Canada’s first National Urban Park. While it will not be able to, nor will it be required to, maintain the same ecological standards as other national parks, it will have a huge benefit by virtue of a huge population at its doorstep.

Canada protects less than 10% of its public lands and only 1% of its oceans. Only four years ago, Australia was like Canada with minimal protection of its oceans but now Australia protects 35% of its oceans. So things can change if the will is there.

In conclusion, we have established some amazing protected areas in Canada over the last 127 years, and we have learned a lot along the way. However, we need constant vigilance to establish and maintain the ecological integrity of our park lands and waters. We cannot act unilaterally to protect places without risking creating barriers to future success. We are all inter-connected with our natural environments and our public natural areas need to be planned and managed at a broader scale than we have done so far.


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Éric Hébert-Daly (right) National Executive Director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society inspired us with his “Nurturing our National Nature” talk on historical shifts in approach to conservation in Canada’s National Parks. He is shown here with Iain Wilkes, MVFN Board member and MC for the evening, Photo Pauline Donaldson

The following is a summary of key questions posed to Hébert-Daly following the presentation:

Where does CPAWS get its funding? The funding is from individuals and foundations. CPAWS does not rely on the government; therefore they can be critical of the governments, when required, and complimentary when merited.

What is the status of the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement? The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement includes 9 environmental organizations signed with 21 forest companies who are members of the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC). Under the Agreement, FPAC members commit to the highest environmental standards of forest management and conservation, while environmental organizations commit to global recognition and support for FPAC members efforts (reference Unfortunately, it is very hard to implement. The third anniversary of the Agreement is this Saturday. Depending on what happens in the next short while, there may be an announcement that CPAWS is very frustrated with certain aspects of the situation.

We have to ask what we are going to do with this landscape at the broad level. There is a lot of information out there but is has never been put together. We need to take the information and overlay it. For example, take Alberta and its Boreal Forest. When they overlaid where the caribou travel and where the forest, oil and gas areas are, it was discovered that all could take place in Alberta at the same time.

Who would be responsible for doing this overlay of existing information? That should be done by the Federal Government as it has responsibility for anything that crosses the provincial boundaries. Almost all resources belong to the provinces and implementation of conservation efforts has to happen at the provincial level.

What about the Budget cuts to the National Parks? That is a question of philosophy. There is an undermining of the scientific capacity at the federal level – almost as if they are thinking if we don’t know certain things – we can ignore it.

What are possible future areas for Parks?

• Mealy Mountains in Labrador –to protest a large portion of boreal forest, tundra and shoreline on the Labrador Sea.

• Parc national Tursujuq – to become the biggest national park in Quebec and the biggest in eastern North America

• Lancaster Sound – a national marine area in the Arctic

• Southern Strait of Georgia in BC – a national marine conservation area

• Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve – at the east end of Great Slave Lake

• Other possible areas include the South Okanagan in BC, and areas in Manitoba and Nova Scotia

What can a small organization like MVFN do? In answering this question posed after his talk, Hebert Daly said “Never underestimate the power of the written word.” A group like MVFN and its individual members could take the time to write letters or emails on specific environmental issues. Such actions can be very powerful. When many people are sending the same message to government and other officials they tend to pay attention. Be on the email list for CPAWS or other similar organizations and respond when requested.




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2013 MVFN Spring Banque: Celebrating 25 years!

Press Release

April 19, 2013

MVFN Spring Banquet: Celebrating 25 years!

NOTE: MVFN’s Spring Gathering 2013 tickets ($30), must be purchased in advance by Friday, May 10, 2013. Tickets may be purchased in Almonte at Gilligallou Bird (Heritage Court, Mill St.), in Carleton Place at Read’s Book Shop (Lansdowne Ave.), in Lanark at Lanark Living Realty (George St.) and in Perth at The Office (Wilson St. E.). Please contact MVFN’s Brenda Boyd (; 613.256. 2706 for further information or to reserve tickets.

The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN), founded in the spring of 1988, will celebrate their 25th anniversary at a banquet—their fourth annual Spring Gathering 2013. The evening will include a keynote presentation entitled, “Looking Back and Looking Ahead: Nurturing Our National Nature,” which will be given by Éric Hébert-Daly, National Executive Director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.

Clara Hughes, a glorious camp on GSL

The stunning landscape of proposed Thaydene Nene National Park—over 33,000 km2 of boreal and tundra landscape located around and beyond the shores of the East Arm of Great Slave Lake. Photo Clara Hughes

Regardless of the nature of our passion, it seems we often fail to fully appreciate one accomplishment before moving on to the next task, and often we do not reflect sufficiently upon the path of past successes. MVFN’s Spring Gathering 2013 evening and talk by Hebert-Daly will be an opportunity to celebrate our spectacular national, provincial and territorial parks, and to reflect upon the protection of these natural treasures.

Looking back…who were the people, what were the events, and which places stand out in the history of Canada’s natural heritage conservation? Take our national parks, for example. Our first national park, Banff, was created in 1885 when tourism and commercialization were its key mandates. It was not until the National Parks Act of 1930 that our parks became places of preservation. Further, 2013 marks the 25th anniversary of the adoption of ecological integrity as the guiding principle for managing our national parks. These are but a few of the many milestones in Canada’s 128-year national park history. What other landmark events can you recall?

Looking ahead to 2038—the next 25 years—how should we proceed to nurture our national nature? Which elements of our natural heritage most need our attention and what have we learned about nurturing nature over the last quarter-century? There has been a major shift in our understanding of best practices for shaping our natural legacy as Éric will describe. How do we fit into this picture?

MVFN invites you to Spring Gathering 2013, to look back and look ahead along the path of nature conservation while enjoying a showcase of gorgeous examples of Canada’s natural beauty—including places many of us know only through photographs.

MVFN’s Spring Gathering 2013 will take place Thursday May 16, 2013 at the Almonte Civitan Community Hall, 500 Almonte St. (just west of Highway 29), Almonte. The reception will begin at 6:00 pm, and at 6:45 the banquet, followed by the presentation, will take place. Tickets ($30), must be purchased or reserved in advance by Friday, May 10. Tickets may be purchased in Almonte at Gilligallou Bird (Heritage Court, Mill St.), in Carleton Place at Read’s Book Shop (Lansdowne Ave.), in Lanark at Lanark Living Realty (George St.) and in Perth at The Office (Wilson St. E.). Please contact MVFN’s Brenda Boyd (; 613.256. 2706 for further information or to reserve tickets.


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2012: Bluebirds feature at MVFN’s Spring Gathering

Bluebirds Feature Award at MVFN’s Annual Spring Gathering

by Cliff Bennett

Every MVFN bluebird box you see in Lanark County has Al Potvin’s prints on it. Al was honoured at the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists’ annual Spring Gathering banquet, held Thursday, May 17 at the Civitan Club in Almonte. The 128 participants stood in applause as then MVFN President Joyce Clinton presented the Almonte native with the prestigious MVFN Champion for Nature Award. Al has been instrumental in organizing the construction of over 300 Peterson oval bluebird boxes, which are sold as a fundraiser for the club. He was also active over the years with several other MVFN environmentally- related activities and continues as an avid supporter of the club’s habitat creation projects.

In the photo below Al Potvin of Almonte receives a Champion for Nature Award from Joyce Clinton, President of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists, at MVFN’s 2012 Spring Gathering banquet.

Another exciting event at the banquet was the unveiling of the Mike McPhail Memorial Bench. Commissioned by MVFN to honour the late Mr. McPhail, the bench will be installed at the Mill of Kintail where Mike contributed to various programs. Mr. McPhail was MVFN President for three years, during which time the club grew immensely in stature and importance.

Also on display during the evening was a table of activities of the newly-formed MVFN Young Naturalists program. A function of the MVFN Environmental Education Program, chaired by Brenda Boyd, the Young Naturalists are in their first full year of activities, lead by Patti Summers of the Wild Bird Care Center in Nepean. The group meets monthly at the Mill of Kintail. MC for the evening, Cliff Bennett, auctioned off a donated spotting scope with funds raised to be dedicated to the Young Naturalist program.

The main feature of this very successful evening was a presentation on the World of Woodpeckers by guest speaker Dan Schneider. Dan, a senior interpreter with the Grand River Conservation Authority, entertained the crowd with anecdotes and tales on the life of woodpeckers, backed up by an excellent slide show. Mr. Schneider was thanked by the new president, Ken Allison, and presented with a signed copy of Dr. Paul Keddy’s book, Earth, Water, Fire: An Ecological Profile of Lanark County.

Prior to the banquet festivities, the Annual General Meeting of the club was held. President Joyce Clinton outlined the highlights of the past year, noting substantial growth in MVFN membership. The election of officers resulted in the following Board of Directors for the coming year: President, Ken Allison; Vice President, Stephen Collie; Past President, Joyce Clinton; Secretary, Janet Fytche; Treasurer, Bob McCook; Publicity and Public Relations, Bob Volks; Program Chair, Cathy Keddy; Environmental Issues Chair, Theresa Pelusa; Environmental Education Program, Brenda Boyd.

Stay tuned for MVFN’s 2012-13 lecture series, Nature Beneath Our Feet, beginning in September. Summer activities can be found at

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2012 Spring Banquet Celebrates the ‘World of Woodpeckers’

MVFN Spring Banquet Celebrates the ‘World of Woodpeckers’

By Cathy Keddy, MVFN Program Chair

NOTE: Tickets for ‘World of Woodpeckers’ at MVFN’s Spring Gathering 2012 banquet evening must be purchased in advance by Friday, May 11. Tickets are $30 and will be available at the following locations:

Almonte: Gilligallou Bird (Heritage Court, Mill St.) 
Carleton Place: Read’s Book Shop (Lansdowne Ave.)
Lanark: Lanark Living Realty (George St.)
Pakenham: Don’s Meat Market (Main St.)
Perth: The Office (Wilson St. E.)

Tickets may also be reserved through MVFN’s Brenda Boyd (613) 256-2706,  and  picked up and paid for at the door. We ask that all those reserving tickets please commit to picking them up as MVFN must pay banquet costs for all reserved tickets!

 Above: This painting by John James Audubon, 1785-1851) shows a family
 of pileated woodpeckers. These are the largest woodpeckers in the forests of Lanark County.

The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) will hold their third annual Spring Gathering banquet May 17. The evening will feature a keynote presentation—World of Woodpeckers—by Dan Schneider, biologist, writer and senior interpreter with the Grand River Conservation Authority.

The world of woodpeckers is indeed large. But, as Woody Woodpecker would say, “ah-ha-ha—ha—ha!” MVFN’s Spring Gathering presentation will be limited to avian creatures with bills for tree drilling and drumming, and long sticky tongues for extracting food, but will not cover the British rugby team, or Woodpeckers from Space!

There are over 200 species in the woodpecker family, the Picidae. Spread around the globe, they include four main groups: piculets, wrynecks, sapsuckers, and true woodpeckers. Interestingly, though, none is found in Australia, New Zealand, or Madagascar. Why? Woodpeckers are uniquely specialized for their wood hammering habits. They hammer on trees at a rate of 15 to 20 times per second—a rate of fire nearly twice as fast as a sub-machine gun. Not only that, their brains are subjected to deceleration impact forces of up to 1500 g (g = force of gravity) with each blow. Consider that a football player would receive concussion injuries from a force only 1/100 as strong, survivable car crashes rarely exceed 100 g, and airplane black boxes are designed to survive only about 1,000 g! The design of woodpecker’s heads is inspiring the development of new shock-absorbing systems for electronics and humans.

There are many things about woodpeckers that bear further investigation beyond why they don’t end up with extreme headaches from hitting their heads against trees or blindness from the flying wood chips. For example, since woodpeckers’ bills are not very long, how do they fit their much longer tongues inside them? And what about their their zygodactyl feet?

MVFN invites you to Spring Gathering 2012 to expand your appreciation for this novel ornithological assembly beyond downy, hairy and pileated and to celebrate spring with a delicious banquet at a gathering with others who care about nature. Dan will share his love for these magnificent avian creatures and tell us more about their distinctive features, ecology, and conservation. He will give us a global tour, a continental perspectve, and tell us about species that live around us.

MVFN’s Spring Gathering 2012 will take place Thursday May 17, 2012 at Almonte Civitan Community Hall, 500 Almonte St. (just west of Highway 29), Almonte. The reception will begin at 6:00 pm, and at 6:45 the banquet followed by the presentation will take place. Tickets ($30), which must be purchased in advance by Friday, May 11, will be available in Almonte at Gilligallou Bird (Heritage Court, Mill St.), in Carleton Place at Read’s Book Shop (Lansdowne Ave.), in Lanark at Lanark Living Realty (George St.), in Pakenham at Don’s Meat Market (Main St.) and in Perth at The Office (Wilson St. E.). Please contact MVFN’s Brenda Boyd at (613) 256- 2706 for further information.



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2011: Interesting Wild Mississippi Places and Faces, and their Champions

by Pauline Donaldson

Press story pdf with photos

The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) held their Spring Gathering 2011 and AGM May 19th at the Almonte Civitan Community Hall. The evening was a celebration of wild nature and a tribute to those who help champion it including keynote speaker Paul Keddy, and Mike McPhail (MVFN Champion for Nature for 2011). The over one hundred members of MVFN and the public in attendance were treated to a delicious banquet served by Civitan volunteers.

MVFN President Joyce Clinton presided over a short business meeting during which MVFN’s officers for the 2011-2012 year were elected. Returning to MVFN’s board of directors are Joyce Clinton, President; Janet McGinnis, Vice President; Mike McPhail, Past President; Janet Fytche, Secretary; Cathy Keddy, Program Chair; Brenda Boyd, Chair of Environmental Education; Bill Slade, Chair Environmental Issues; and Janet Snyder, Social Committee. Newly elected to the board of directors are Elisabeth DeSnaijer, MVFN Treasurer; Ken Allison, MVFN Chair Publicity; and Bob McCook, MVFN Director at Large.

Clinton reported on the year’s highlights, including a recent significant change to MVFN’s status. “I am pleased to announce that through the efforts of the board of directors and in particular Cathy Keddy and Howard Robinson, the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists is now officially a charitable organization. To help the board gain a clearer focus for the future, we held a visioning meeting in August last year. Our financial pulse is strong and healthy. Our treasurer Howard Robinson will be stepping down this year. I want to thank Howard for all his hard work over the last 3 years. Referring to other highlights with implications for children and youth Clinton stated, “The Environmental Education committee (Chaired by Brenda Boyd) has also begun the process of developing a plan for an MVFN Young Naturalists Program. The project is still in the pilot project stage, but it is a very exciting step for our group.”

Christine and Peggy










A special part of the evening was presentation of the 2011 MVFN Champion for Nature Award, given to individuals or groups who make outstanding contributions to the natural world in the Mississippi Valley. “This year we are awarding the MVFN Champion for Nature Award to Mike McPhail” said Clinton. “Mike was born and raised in Almonte . . . a geologist by training and has many passions in the field of nature. As MVFN’s vice president for three years, then president for three, Mike continues to serve on MVFN’s board.” Without a doubt, many MVFN projects would not have taken place without the driving force of Mike McPhail, a quintessential organizer, natural public speaker and leader, and a man with a passion and curiosity for our natural world. To mention a few such projects: Mike researched and organized MVFN’s first bioblitz which was held on the Bell property in Mississippi Mills in September 2009. This bioblitz quickly become a model for other clubs. Another project close to Mike’s heart is MVFN’s Habitat Creation which has resulted in hundreds and hundreds of blue-bird houses for our feathered friends as well as duck nesting platforms and other habitat projects still in the works.

Mike was unable to attend the evening due to illness, however the award was accepted on Mike’s behalf by his wife Peggy McPhail and daughter Christine (photo above).

Following the banquet and business meeting, the audience settled in for local ecologist Dr. Paul Keddy’s presentation “Natural Faces of Wild Mississippi Places.” “These [wild] species don’t come to meetings and don’t vote, so it is easy for them to be overlooked. One of my tasks at this spring celebration is to talk on their behalf.” Keddy’s virtual tour gave the audience an opportunity to reconsider a few of Lanark County’s special natural places, or to learn about them for the first time. In Lanark County we live in the great northern deciduous forest region which also includes some relatively rare (globally) areas of deciduous forest over marble. In the county, as farm land returns to forest, we are seeing good signs, such as the return of fishers, natural predators of porcupines. We share the northern deciduous forest with Ontario’s only lizard species (the five-lined skink), but few of us realize just how many salamanders we share it with. ‘Salamander Central’, the forest is teeming with these seldom seem amphibians. In addition to the return of favorite birds, spring in the deciduous forest means that spring ephemerals are about. These include often fragile and beautiful perennial woodland plants, such as wild columbine. These plants must quickly sprout from the forest floor, grow and flower while the sun can still reach them through the leafless trees. Attached to the seeds of ephemeral species such as Trillium, Hepatica, and Dutchman’s breeches is a little oil-rich snack for ants. Attracted to this food, the ants spread the seeds, but colonization of new areas occurs only very slowly. When plants are lost from an area, re-colonization is very slow and not guaranteed, since, as Keddy pointed out, ants do not travel far and are not good at crossing highways. As soon as the leaves bud out on the trees the tree frogs arrive and summer begins again in the forest.

A second special place featured was the Innisville Wetland Complex, an area officially designated as an ANSI (Area of Natural or Scientific Interest) by the provincial government. It is a huge, significant wetland area and yet it is relatively unknown and unseen by visitors and locals alike. Why aren’t there interpretive signs and perhaps an access point to the Innisville Wetland Complex, and a boardwalk to allow people to safely enter and experience this important natural area?

A third local area discussed was the ‘Lanark Highlands Glacial Spillway Forest’, an area so named by Paul Keddy. This glacial spillway, near White Lake, is a remarkable area which was carved in the past by tremendous volumes of glacial meltwater which flowed past carrying and depositing loads of sand and gravel. Surprisingly, one corner of the spillway ‘valley’ actually overlaps part of Blueberry Mountain, but this is possible. As is often the case for unique areas such as this, a variety of interesting things are aggregated there. For example a rare southern tree species, the shagbark hickory has been found there, and in shady areas, walking fern (found in forests over marble) which spreads by producing new plants where the leaf tips touch the ground.

Keddy’s lecture was an excellent conclusion to MVFN’s 2010-2011 lecture series Biodiversity and Vital Connections for Fauna, Flora and People. People connected with the presentation, the local natural areas featured and were educated and inspired. MVFN’s lecture program is on break now until September but the canoe and summer outing season is just getting started. The next MVFN summer walk takes place June 19th at the Purdon Fen and the next canoe outing is scheduled for July 10th. Please watch the MVFN member email network or consult for further details on these outings.


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