Folks, we all know that this is a really hard time. It is full of stress, anxiety, and uncertainty. It is a time where we are all having to take things on that fall way outside our comfort zones. As a parent of three, an educator, and wife of a teacher who works in a more traditional setting, I'm seeing, hearing and feeling some of the challenges around children being home from school.
Looking to escape the house? Searching for some safe fun and learning for your little ones (or big ones) while physical distancing?
There's fun, discovery and learning available in your backyard or during a walk around the block.
We spoke to RVCA's Outdoor Educators Andrea Wood (Baxter Conservation Area) and Rebecca Whitman (Foley Mountain Conservation Area) and asked for some tips on how to maximize your child's outdoor experience.
We all know it: the holidays can be stressful, expensive and wasteful. All that running around buying things people don't need, trying to read everyone's minds, bracing for Boxing Day returns once everything's been unwrapped.
Why not skip the hassle and give the gift of conservation instead?
There's a misconception out there that your local conservation authority is out to stop all development. But in reality the RVCA approves more than 90% of the applications it receives; our regulations inspectors and planners work with applicants to come up with plans that can suit the property owner, the provincial regulations and the watershed all at once.
Not convinced? Meet Hal Stimson, long-time inspector with the RVCA:
The RVCA spearheads a huge range of watershed management activities, and one of them is keeping harmful contaminants out of our drinking water through septic inspections. Not sure what that means? Meet Adam Dillon, your friendly, neighbourhood regulations inspector, to find out:
Simon Lunn knew he needed to drill a new well and decommission his old one. What he didn't figure was that the conservation authority would hand him $1,000 towards his costs.
Mr. Lunn, a long-time Smiths Falls resident near the Smiths Falls Golf and Country Club, received the funds through the Rural Clean Water Grants program, which covers up to 90 per cent of costs for projects that protect water resources in the watershed.
Autumn is upon us, and the fabulous fall colours are painting our watershed red, gold and yellow.
Foley Mountain is famous for its fall views from Spy Rock Lookout, but it can get very busy. This year, don't be afraid to break with tradition and get your fall fix from lesser-known hikes inside the park. We promise the colours are just as spectacular, and you won't be fighting for a spot on Spy Rock!
Try these three hikes for a refreshing take on Foley's fall splendor.
Christmas has come early for the fish of Wolfe Lake.
RVCA staff and volunteers could be spotted sinking bundles of old Christmas trees into the Westport-area lake on Sept. 5.
But this wasn't just an extreme head-start on underwater holiday décor; the donated brush bundles will also provide valuable habitat for several fish species in the lake, according to RVCA aquatic biologist Jennifer Lamoureux.
Award: Best in Fall!
Whether you like it or not, fall is coming. And the best place in the watershed to embrace the changing season is at Mill Pond Conservation Area.
What it lacks in hayrides and pumpkin patches it makes up with 1,300 acres of maple forests, wetlands and natural shoreline around Mill Pond near Big Rideau Lake.
The RVCA and its partners are angling to help walleye stocks recover in Wolfe Lake.
With a generous grant from the TD Friends of the Environment Fund, RVCA staff teamed up with volunteers from the Wolfe Lake Association and the Westport Area Outdoors Association to create two new spawning beds on Scanlan Creek at the end of August.
Award: Best Kept Secret!
Sometimes we're so busy dreaming of far-off places, we miss the wonders right in front of our nose.
That could be the case with Perth Wildlife Reserve Conservation Area, a 635-acre natural area along the Tay Marsh and river just five minutes from downtown Perth.
Award: Family favourite!
Every parent wants to keep their kids engaged and entertained – and for as long as possible without complaints.
Well, you won't hear any whining at Baxter Conservation Area: it delivers hours of family fun, no matter the season.
Located 15 minutes south of Barrhaven along the Rideau River, Baxter offers five kilometres of trails, beach and picnic areas, a unique nut grove and an interpretive centre where outdoor educators offer tons of student programming.
Award: Coolest wildlife!
Going into the wild is easy when we have Foley Mountain right in our backyard.
This conservation area in Westport is 833 acres of naturalist's heaven: located in the heart of the Frontenac Arch, the unique region is a magnet for migrating birds and animals, species at risk, common Canadian forest friends and, of course, the humans hoping to catch a glimpse of them.
No Swim advisories are no fun, but our aquatic experts are working hard to keep our water and beaches clean – one wetland restoration at a time.
The Black Rapids wetland project is a perfect example of how a natural feature like a wetland can act as a water treatment plant to filter pollution out of the water - reducing the impact on our summer fun at the same time.
Award: Best Beach!
If you're looking for warm sand, cool water and a picturesque place to soak up the sun this summer, we've got your answer: Rideau Ferry Yacht Club Conservation Area.
You know what they say: "If you build it, they will come." But that old adage isn't just for haunted baseball fields – it also applies to wetland projects right in the heart of Ottawa's greenbelt.
Last fall, staff at the RVCA and the National Capital Commission created 10,000 square metres of new wetland habitat along Stillwater Creek, just south of the new DND headquarters off Moodie Drive and Highway 417.
Thanks to observations from the Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre, which is located nearby, staff at the NCC and RVCA discovered the wetland had been suffering annually from extreme low water conditions. Most of the year the wetland was completely dry, dominated by long, reedy grasses that don't encourage much biodiversity.
Award: Coolest history!
If the land could talk, imagine its stories.
Thankfully, at Motts Mills Conservation Area we can at least tell you about the past 200 years, and how the historic dam has long shaped the Hutton Marsh wetland and the community it serves.
Custom-built smartphone apps are changing the way staff at Rideau Valley Conservation Authority get their work done – and saving time, money and headaches in the process.
This spring, the RVCA launched its latest app, this one for classifying shorelines – something no other conservation group is doing digitally.
Gone are the bulky clipboards and windswept papers of previous surveys. And vanquished are the days of tedious data entry after a long season on the water.
These days, with the tap of an app staff can quickly analyze a shoreline, take a photo and input all the relevant data into a digital database, all from the palm of their hand – and from the middle of a river.
Award: Most accessible!
Welcome to Chapman Mills Conservation Area: an urban oasis in the heart of South Ottawa, easily walkable for nearby Barrhaven and Riverside South communities and a short drive for tens of thousands more in the Ottawa South region.
It's our most accessible conservation area for so many reasons: urban location, access to the Rideau River, easy-to-use boardwalk trails, excellent seating options and free entry and parking.
Award: Hidden Gem!
Nestled among the historic streets of Richmond Village sits a lovely little park, complete with picnic tables, a wooded trail and a public dock on the Jock River.
Richmond Conservation Area is a true hidden gem: walkable for local residents, free parking for visitors, and the perfect place to host your next family picnic or escape the demands of modern living for a while.