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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You may not have heard of runoff, but you've definitely seen it.
It's those curbside streams rushing into thirsty drains during a big rainstorm; the steady trickle down a soapy driveway as you wash your car; the rush of water as your neighbor inexplicably washes his driveway for the third time this month (yeah, we see you, man).
Award: Best pit stop!
Every good road trip needs scenic pit stops along the way. Portland Bay Conservation Area delivers that in spades: it offers a unique lakeside spot to stop and smell the wildflowers while you enjoy your picnic lunch.
Award: Best Fishing!
Misty mornings, sun-dappled afternoons or dazzling dusks: it's always a good time to cast your line from the docks at W.A. Taylor Conservation Area in Osgoode.
Nestled on the eastern banks of the Rideau River's Long Reach – the longest lock-free stretch of water along the Rideau Canal system – this serene slice of waterfront green space offers an exceptional respite from the daily grind, only 20 minutes from urban Ottawa.
Award: Best Workout!
When it comes to scenic, secluded places to burn a few calories, Meisel Woods Conservation Area is a true unicorn: no crowds, free parking, vista views, and more than its fair share of tough trails to get your heart pumping. Hard to believe, right?!
You probably know that bees and butterflies need our help – but do you know how easy it is?
Helping backyard pollinators can be as simple as planting a packet of native wildflower seeds in your backyard or on your balcony.
"That's going to attract the pollinators, and once they pollinate the plants you'll have more flowers," said Amanda Lange, a resource technician with the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA). "That in turn attracts more pollinators."
Before you know it, you'll have a backyard buzzing with activity and life.
Mythbusting your local flood management agency
With historic flooding in 2017 and again this spring, questions abound about what is being done - or not done - to avoid future floods.
And it has sparked a conversation about the role of conservation authorities.
Nepean students branch out from climate change protest
May 3, 2019 - As thousands of Canadian students walked out of class to protest climate policies on May 3, a group of Nepean High School students were going back to basics.
Shovels in hand, the 14-person crew braved wet weather to plant 500 trees at MacSkimming Outdoor Education Centre in Cumberland. Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA) provided the seedlings and taught the students how and where to plant them.