Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

MVFN Opposes Roadside Spraying to Control Wild Parsnip

MVFN has written a letter of concern to Lanark County, expressing our opposition to their plans to carry out herbicide spraying in 2017 of approximately 350 km of roadsides along County (and Township) roads, in an effort to control the presence and spread of wild parsnip, as well as other noxious weeds.  This letter follows from a similar letter sent in 2016.  A map and table showing the roads where spraying is planned or has been completed can be found on the Lanark County web site at

MVFN is concerned that spraying, particularly boom spraying, of a general herbicide (Clearview) to control wild parsnip will detrimentally affect many other species of flowering plants that provide food for insects and birds.  We also feel that, even with careful application, there is a risk of the herbicide entering streams and wetlands where it is known to be highly toxic to aquatic organisms.  An active ingredient of Clearview (aminopyralid potassium) cannot be considered readily biodegradable and so may persist in the environment and transport into groundwater.

MVFN is of the opinion that the County should focus its efforts on wild parsnip control through non-chemical means, particularly mowing at appropriate times of the year, and carry out a more comprehensive public information campaign that will lead to risk reduction through education.  No matter the scale of our efforts, wild parsnip, like poison ivy, will always be with us and we should deal with its presence through education and mechanical control, not through the widespread application of herbicides.

To learn more about wild parsnip, and how property owners can control it, please go to this Mississippi Mills link:

Here is the MVFN Letter of Concern that was sent to all Lanark County Councillors: MVFN-letter-to-LC-spraying-2017.pdf

Photos below are of wild parsnip plants at various stages of development. Learn to recognize the plants and avoid them.

Wild Parsnip before flowering. Almonte, June 17, 2017

Wild Parsnip rosette without flowering stalk: Almonte, June 17, 2017

Wild Parsnip, June 17, 2017 some plants are beginning to flower

Wild Parsnip, June 17, 2017, Almonte:  some plants are beginning to send up flower stalks

Wild Parsnip, Almonte June 17, 2017 some plants also have begun to flower

Wild Parsnip, Almonte June 17, 2017:  other wild parsnip plants are already in early flowering stage

Wild Parsnip. photo Drew Monkman

Wild Parsnip. photo Drew Monkman


Wild Parsnip along roadside post-spraying, July 2016, March Road. Unsprayed plants are visible at fence line.

Wild Parsnip along roadside,  after spraying, July 2016, March Road. Sprayed plants and unsprayed plants (greener wild parsnip at the fence line) are visible in the photo.


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MVFN 2010/11 Lecture Series: Biodiversity and Vital Connections for Fauna, Flora and People


MVFN 2010/11 Lecture Series: Biodiversity and Vital Connections for Fauna, Flora and People

MVFN’s lecture series “Biodiversity and Vital Connections for Fauna, Flora and People” began September 2010.  A list of the excellent lectures which took place in the series may be found below. Our final presentation in the series will take place at our Annual Spring Gathering event Thursday, May 19, 2011. Full details for this lecture: “Natural Faces of Wild Mississippi Places” by Dr. Paul Keddy can be found in under UPCOMING EVENTS on the home page.

Please contact MVFN Program Chair Cathy Keddy at 613-257-3089 if you require further information on our lecture program. The final lecture of the series which will be part of Spring Gathering 2011 will take place at the Almonte Civitan Community Hall (see upcoming events postings for ticket information and other details). All regular MVFN lectures take place at  7:30 p.m. at the Almonte United Church Social Hall, 106 Elgin St. Almonte, Ontario. All welcome. There is a $5 fee for non-members. No charge for those 16 yrs or under.

Almonte Locator Map

Almonte Locator Map

Lectures which we have already enjoyed in the MVFN 2010/11 Lecture Series: Biodiversity and Vital Connections for Fauna, Flora and People are as follows:

September 2010: “Our Human Need For Wild Nature and Conserving its Incredible Diversity” (Baylor Johnson, St. Lawrence University)

October 2010: “Talking Turkey — It’s Wild” (Cathy Keddy, Ecologist)

November 2010: “Labrador’s Mealy Mountains….Canada’s Next National Park?” (Doug Harvey, New Park Acquisitions, Parks Canada)

January 2011: “Lanark County’s Leaping Lizards” (Briar Howes, Species at Risk, Parks Canada)

February 2011: “Searching for Essential Elements: What Makes Charleston Lake, Bon Echo and Sandbanks Parks Special” (David Bree, Chief Park Naturalist, Presqu’ile)

March 2011: “Canada’s Five Cent Animal: Our Beaver, Past and Present” (Natalia Rybczynski, Canadian Museum of Nature)

• April 2011: “The Lay of the Water Over Mississippi Lands” (Patricia Larkin, Environmental Educator, Nature Works Learning)


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“Our Human Need for Wild Nature and Conserving its Incredible Diversity” first lecture topic for MVFN’s 2010-2011 series

Blueberry Mountain

Blueberry Mountain

Press Release

Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists

September 1, 2010

Our Human Need for Wild Nature and Conserving its Incredible Diversity

by Cathy Keddy

The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists public lecture series on natural history and biology is set to start again September 16th. There was record attendance at MVFN’s lecture series last year. Talks this year will once again be held at the Almonte United Church, and are open to the public as well as MVFN members. You do not need to be an expert to enjoy the presentations—just a curiosity or appreciation for wild nature. Cottagers, hunters, fishermen, canoeists, hikers, campers, artists and seasoned field naturalists alike are invited to explore what lives in Lanark County and how best to protect it for future generations. Refreshments are offered at each lecture.

The coming year marks the beginning of the United Nation’s ‘Decade of Biodiversity’, so the underlying theme of the series will be Biodiversity and Vital Connections for Fauna, Flora, and People. Lectures will include a wide range of topics from the psychological benefits of wild nature to the status of the wild turkey. We have species here that many people have never seen—such as red efts, whip-poor-wills, map turtles, lizards, and even egrets. Who knows what lurks in your favourite bit of local forest?

Our first lecture will be presented by Dr. Baylor Johnson, Professor of Philosophy and Director of outdoor studies at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York. Dr. Johnson has an interest in environmental philosophy and the causes and solutions to environmental problems and has written articles for journals such as Environmental Values and Rethinking Sustainability. The lecture will focus on how to amplify the benefits humans derive from time spent in wild lands, and ways to encourage everyone to similarly benefit. This is a very broad topic. Why do fall colours captivate us? Why do hunters take pleasure in the autumn deer and turkey hunts? Why do naturalists look forward to the autumn hawk migration? Why do artists so often find inspiration in our forests and lakes? Why did Jesus and the Buddha, among others, spend hours alone in the wilderness? What is clear is that while there are a great number of ways people appreciate nature, we all share a common interest in wild things and the need to experience a sense of wildness.

So enjoy an evening among friends, take in some spectacular photography, and prepare yourself for an autumn and winter of talks and field trips. Attend Dr. Johnson’s presentation “Our Human Need for Wild Nature and Conserving its Incredible Diversity” which kicks off MVFN’s new lecture series Thursday, September 16 at 7:30 p.m., at the Almonte United Church, 106 Elgin St., Almonte. All are welcome ($5 fee for non-members). For further information please contact MVFN’s Program Chair Cathy Keddy at 613-257-3089.

Photo 1: MVFN member Edwin Rohr atop Blueberry Mountain, one of Lanark County’s spectacular wild lands. The first lecture in the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists’ 2010-11 series will explore why we all share a common interest in wild things and a need to experience a sense of wildness. Photo courtesy Howard Robinson.

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Fragile Inheritance-an interesting new biodiversity project

Fragile Inheritance is a project being conducted by a local group from Oxford Station, Ontario in celebration of International Year of Biodiversity in 2010, in partnership with the Canadian Museum of Nature. You can read more about this interesting project at

Also of interest is Aleta Karstad’s painting a day blog  including one painting done on MVFN’s first ever bioblitz at the Bell Property in September, 2009 – at    This painting of ferns in a vernal pool, done during the bioblitz, was apparently part of a pilot project to get ready for her ‘painting a day’ project which is ongoing (since March 2010) to help fund the ’30 Years Later Expedition’ for the International Year of Biodiversity.

Aleta Karstads work provides spectacular examples of documenting with words and illustrations in ‘nature notebooks’ what we see in nature.

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Geodiversity: The Foundation for Biodiversityi a lecture by Allan Donaldson




Stromatolites at Fitzroy

Press Release

Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists

September 9, 2008

Submitted by Pauline Donaldson

Journey back in geological time with Professor Donaldson to discover the secrets to Lanark County’s astonishing biodiversity, as MVFN celebrates twenty years

The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists’ (MVFN) new lecture series From the Ground, Up: Celebrating the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists’ First 20 Years will explore local natural heritage literally from the ground, up beginning September 18th with the presentation Geodiversity: The Foundation for Biodiversity by Professor Allan Donaldson.

Earth Scientists such as Dr. Donaldson study ancient events revealed through patterns in Precambrian rocks (over 4 billion years old) and the sequence of events shown in more recent geological formations to understand present landforms and how life itself arose. While officially retired from a distinguished teaching and research career at Carleton University, Dr. Donaldson continues to inspire newcomers to the field of geology through lectures, local geological tours and as Chair of Friends of Canadian Geoheritage. This group, launched by Donaldson and others in 2002 strives to make geoscience, or how Earth ‘works,’ more accessible. A key aspect is preservation of geoheritage or the ‘rocks that talk’ whether they are in heritage buildings, unique features in road cuts, quarries, or unique sites. For example, earlier this year Donaldson and teacher Neil Carleton spearheaded a successful effort to make Almonte’s Metcalfe Park the first municipal geoheritage park. It should soon be home to fascinating rock specimens ‘georescued’ from Hwy 417 and become a jumping off point for geoscience education and tours.

Did you know that where we walk today whales once swam in arctic-like waters of the Champlain Sea, whose shoreline can still be traced on the local landscape? Learn how the extraordinary geodiversity of Lanark County gave rise to the astonishing diversity of life which now inhabits the Canadian Shield and St. Lawrence Limestone Plains of our Lanark County. To appreciate the rocks that form our landscape, bring your imagination on a journey through time with Professor Donaldson, to ocean depths, colliding continents and a landscape locked in ice, as MVFN celebrates twenty years of natural world enjoyment and education.

The founding meeting of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists was held in April of 1988 at the Carleton Place Canoe Club. A Steering Committee, consisting of Steve Coaker, Carleton Place; the late Marilyn Wood, Beckwith; Mike Yee, Neil Carleton, Almonte and Cliff Bennett, Ramsay, presented a comprehensive set of by-laws for approval at this meeting. The first Annual General Meeting of MVFN was held at the Mill of Kintail, June 26, 1988, attended by twenty-nine persons. Following a picnic and nature ramble, a slate of officers was presented and Ken Bennett, Beckwith, became the club’s first president.

Professor Donaldson’s presentation is 7:30 p.m., September 18th at the Almonte United Church, 106 Elgin St., Almonte. All are welcome with a $5 fee for non-MVFN members. For further information, please contact MVFN’s Program Chair Cathy Keddy at 613-257-3089 or see MVFN’s website at .

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