News from: August 2019
Sept 30, 2019 – They say hindsight is 20/20 – and future generations may not like what they see if we don’t act now to protect and conserve our natural areas.
That’s why the Rideau Valley Conservation Foundation is excited to launch Conservation 2020: a major campaign to raise $125,000 toward keeping our natural areas in public hands forever.
The Foundation is a proud steward of more than 1,259 hectares of healthy, protected ecosystems throughout the Rideau River watershed. These are crucial habitats — forests, wetlands and shorelines — that work hard to reduce our risk of floods, clean our water, stop erosion and store vast amounts of carbon to keep our communities healthy and resilient in the face of climate change.
They are the lifeblood of our region, supporting vast, interconnected ecosystems that are increasingly fragmented or lost entirely to development and human activity.
Some properties are entirely untouched, left to their own devices to provide important green infrastructure functions for our communities. Others are public, close-to-home oases providing an antidote to the daily grind and stresses of daily life.
But they all cost money to maintain: whether it’s for property taxes, insurance or trail maintenance, the Foundation requires a steady stream of income to protect these green spaces in perpetuity.
Donations to the Conservation 2020 campaign will be invested in the Steve Simmering Conservation Land Endowment Fund, which marks its 10-year anniversary next year.
The fund was established in 2010 in memory of Steve Simmering, an active outdoorsman and vice chairman of the Foundation. The endowment has slowly been growing to provide a small stream of income to support our vibrant and vital outdoor spaces.
But more is needed to keep our natural areas secure forever.
“Today, the need to protect our conservation lands is increasingly important,” said Foundation chairman Jason Kelly. “Our 2020 campaign will look to grow this endowment fund, ensuring our local natural areas are protected and held safely in public hands.”
The Foundation, which turns 50 next year, is seeking investments large and small. Whether your family has $100 to spare or you lead a large corporation looking to make a lasting, local impact, your contribution will go directly toward conserving green space in your community for future generations.
Donors of large investments (between $10,000 and $25,000+ over five years) will be recognized in our media outreach and on the Foundation’s donor board. They’ll also receive some fun extras for the office, like complementary annual passes to our conservation areas, free facility rentals and even a staff retreat.
For more information about how the endowment works, visit https://www.rvcf.ca/ways-to-give/steve-simmering-conservation-lands-endowment-fund.
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Sept 17, 2019 – Join us to view draft regulations mapping for provincially significant wetlands in Merrickville-Wolford. The Village of Merrickville-Wolford is updating its Official Plan. As part of this initiative, the Village is designating additional provincially significant wetlands based on mapping provided by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. These wetlands will be regulated by the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority under Ontario Regulation 174/06 — Development, Interference with Wetlands and Alterations to Shorelines and Watercourses Regulation. Come visit Conservation Authority staff to view the draft mapping and learn more about the regulation of these environmentally sensitive areas.
Official Plan Open Houses
- Monday, October 7, 2019 Merrickville Community Centre from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
- Tuesday, October 8, 2019 Eastons Corners Centennial Hall from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
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Sept 16, 2019 – As many as 250 students will experience the great outdoors this year – some for the very first time – thanks to a $5,000 grant from The North Face Canada Explore Fund.
The Rideau Valley Conservation Foundation has been campaigning to help 50 schools access outdoor education programs at local conservation areas in the 2019/2020 school year. The North Face grant will cover tuition and transportation costs for eight priority schools across the region.
The programs are run by the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority’s (RVCA) certified outdoor education teachers at Baxter and Foley Mountain conservation areas. They welcome more than 10,000 elementary and secondary school students to their curriculum-based programs every year for hands-on experiences in nature, from catching frogs tosnowshoeing.
But not all students can afford to take part.There are at least 37 priority schools in the Rideau Valley region where funding simply isn’t available for “extras” like outdoor education. To make matters worse, these studentsare often most lackingquality time in nature: many of them are new to Canada or live in urban communities where walking among the trees, exploring a wetland or building winter shelters is completely unfamiliar.
And it’s not just a missed day of fun. There’s a growing body of evidence that learning through outdoor active play has positive effects on a child's physical, emotional, and intellectual health.More and more, children suffer from “nature deficit disorder” – a lack of connection with the natural world.
RVCA staff use the Ministry of Education’s list of priority schools – determined based on national census income data – and work with local school boards directly to identify schools that would benefit from financial support to get their students outside and into nature.
With support from The North Face Fund and other donors, the RVCA is fostering a new generation of confident explorers, nature-lovers and environmental stewards – a key reason the program was one of only seven across Canada chosen for The North Face support in 2019.
“The Explore Fund searches out and supports organizations that use the power of exploration and the benefits of nature to strengthen communities around the country,”said Carl Bissonnette, Sr. Canadian marketing manager for the fund. “We are delighted to work with the Rideau Valley Conservation Foundation to help children access nature.”
For more information about the RVCA’s educational programs, visit www.rvca.ca/outdoor-education.
To support the Foundation’s conservation efforts, visit www.rvcf.ca.
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September 5, 2019 – Despite recent cool and rainy weather, a Minor Low Water status remains in place for the Rideau Valley Watershed under the Ontario Low Water Response Program. Watershed residents and businesses are encouraged to conserve water during dry conditions.
Temperatures have fallen in recent days and rainfall has increased, but the average 90-day rainfall measured at climate stations in and around the Rideau Valley Watershed remains below 80 per cent of normal for this time of year, which is a key indicator for Minor Low Water status. In the past 30 days, average rainfall has been just above 80 per cent of normal. Looking ahead, the seven-day weather forecasts suggests we’ll experience normal temperatures and possibly some small amounts of rain.
For the most part, water levels in lakes and rivers are close to normal for this time of year, and this is expected to continue into the fall with lower evaporation rates compared to those of the warmer summer months.
Conservation Authority staff continue to monitor conditions and communicate with water managers throughout the watershed. Updates to this message will be issued as conditions warrant.
Ministry of Environment and Climate Change: https://www.ontario.ca/page/managing-your-water-well-times-water-shortage
Ontario’s Low Water Response program: https://www.ontario.ca/page/low-water-response-program.
RVCA website: www.rvca.ca
Hourly and daily streamflows and water levels: https://www.rvca.ca/watershed-monitoring-reporting/reporting/streamflow-water-levels.
Hear from lead Flood Forecasting engineer Brian about how we monitor low water conditions:
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Sept. 3, 2019 — 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.
Walleye stocks have been falling across Ontario, and in Wolfe Lake the population is noticeably on the decline, according to lake association fishing director Margie Manthey.
“The depletion began in the 1980s and 1990s,” said Manthey, who hasn’t missed a summer on the lake since 1978. While she admitted she’s no biologist, she said general consensus is that “road culverts installed 30 or 40 years ago on Scanlan Creek excised kilometres worth of spawning habitat.”
Walleye like to spawn at the same spot every year, and in Scanlan Creek those breeding grounds are now upstream of several culverts that are filled with rushing spring runoff during spawning season. This has effectively cut the fish off from their breeding grounds, according to RVCA aquatic biologist Jennifer Lamoureux, who said the rushing water is too fast to fight.
Where there once might have been dozens of breeding adults counted in the spring, this year local landowners only spotted a few.
To fix this, Lamoureux designed two new spawning beds downstream of the culverts.
“Some may still try to spawn upstream, but these downstream spawning beds mean they have the appropriate habitat if the spring freshet is a strong one,” Lamoureux said.
Staff and 30 volunteers spent two days at the end of August building the new beds. The first day, volunteers installed nets to block and relocate nearly 1,100 fish and other aquatic creatures from the construction zone. The next day, they worked tirelessly to place 70 tonnes of six-inch round river stone in the creek, passing them down the line by hand to cover the river bottom.
The project was the brainchild of Manthey and Don Goodfellow of the Westport Area Outdoors Association, who worked together to develop a Scanlan Creek rehabilitation proposal for the RVCA. It required buy-in from members of both community groups, as well as approval from landowner Bill Blaney, who has owned this section of the creek for the past 12 years.
Blaney said he was happy to help, not only because it’s restoring the creek back to balance, but because he’s noticed a decline at the end of his fishing line.
“I used to catch a fish every second cast, and I could count on getting one or two in a trip. Now there are many times we get skunked,” Blaney said.
He said he hopes to see more walleye on his property as early as two years from now. For more information, visit https://www.rvca.ca/wolfe-lake-scanlan-creek-fish-habitat-enhancement-project.
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