Wild Northerner Magazine Spring 2017 - Page 30

Q - The work done by MS, what makes it important?

A - Manitoulin Streams provides the opportunity for communities to become part of the on-the-ground solution to our environmental concerns related to our rivers and streams through stewardship activities. We also provide educational outreach about healthy habitats and ecosystems, beneficial management practices through nutrient management, invasive species, climate change, and in-stream and riparian restoration. We accomplish this through presentations, stream tours, holding community events and organizing stewardship activities. We try to build capacity in the community by removing barriers to increase participation through engagement of landowners, volunteers, partner groups, local primary, secondary and First Nation schools, colleges, universities, and other organizations to increase public engagement in safeguarding our ecosystems. These community stewardship activities have a long- standing effect on our rivers and streams because they are action-oriented projects that have measurable, positive impacts, and they provide opportunities for the general public to learn about their surroundings,; their community and how they can make a change.

Manitoulin Island and most northern Ontario communities are socioeconomically dependent on their numerous and varied natural resource values. Our natural resources are what attract people to live and visit the north and to support the livelihood of our community members.

Environmental benefits include: improved fish and wildlife habitat, increased biodiversity, improved hydrological function and connectivity for migrating fish to reach critical spawning habitat, reduced impacts of climate change on water temperatures and improved water quality due to a reduction of nutrients entering water courses.

Q - What impact, overall, has MS had on the land, waterways and nature on the island that you have seen firsthand?

A - To date, Manitoulin Streams has raised more than $4.5 million dollars in funds and in-kind support that has gone directly toward our stream restoration initiative on Manitoulin Island. We have completed 59 in-stream rehabilitation projects, 38 of which were large scale involving bio-engineered site designs to rehabilitate our aquatic ecosystems.

Since 2001 Manitoulin Streams has accomplished the following : Restored 10,373 linear meters of streams on Manitoulin Island; repaired 124,415-m² aquatic in-stream habitat; enhanced 336,004-m² riparian habitat; planted 46,113 trees; installed 4,409-meters of fencing, eight nose pumps and 11 watering ramps and stocked 50,000 brook trout eggs.

These initiatives have been completed by community volunteers, such as farmers, fishermen, First Nations, Municipalities and private landowners working together to reach a common goal.

We have received numerous awards for our efforts including: bi-national 2008 success story of the year through the State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conference; 2009 OFAH Club of the Year, OFAH 2009 Mary Pickford Award; 2012 Canada's Recreational Fisheries Award; 2013 Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence; 2013 Minister’s Award for Environmental Excellence; and 2016 Rainbow District School Board award for Outstanding Contribution to Co-Curricular Program.

Q - What has been one of the most thrilling parts of the job or project for you since you joined MS and why?

A - One of my many thrilling experiences with my job is that every year Manitoulin Streams help out the Municipality of Central Manitoulin with opening the mouth of the Mindemoya River. The mouth of the Mindemoya River is often obstructed by a large sand bar in the fall, created by coastal wave action and lack of water coming downstream. This loss of water during the summer dry season and into the fall reduces the velocity of the river. For this reason, the river is not able to scour the sand effectively from the mouth. This results in the low velocity water taking a path parallel with the beach, and then it eventually makes a shallow trickle out into Lake Huron. This shallow mouth is approximately 1-3 inches deep and cannot accommodate the spawning salmon who often become beached and die. In partnership, Manitoulin Streams and the Municipality of Central Manitoulin garnered appropriate provincial and federal permits needed to clear a temporary channel through the beach during peak spawning runs. This allows fish to freely move through the sand obstruction in the fall months during peak salmon spawning periods so that the fish can move upstream to prime spawning habitat to complete their life cycle and reproduce. In 2015, we opened up the river, and over a 20-minute time period we saw what looked to be dark waves in the bay moving toward the river’s mouth, and then at least 500 salmon made their way through the channel and upstream to some of our stream restoration sites to spawn. A lot of the spectators that gathered around to watch were ecstatic to see so many fish in such a short period of time. This was exciting to see, and was fulfilling to know that we helped ensure that they could complete their journey.

Q - What can you say about the people you work with? What stands out about them?

A - The one thing that stands out the most about my staff and Board of Directors is their kindness and respect for each other. My staff are always ready to offer a helping hand especially during our extremely busy field season that include long hours and hard laborious work. They all go the extra mile to help me out and to make us successful in our stream restoration and educational adventures each year. Even though my Board of Directors all have various backgrounds, they are so respectful of each other and everyone’s opinions and views that it makes for a very productive team. There is so much I can learn from all of them.

Overall the people (landowners, First Nations, Municipalities, agricultural community, fish and game clubs etc.) of Manitoulin Island have been fabulous to work with. They understand the need for our restoration efforts and a lot of them go out of their way to provide a lot of in-kind support toward our projects.

Q - What do you love about the outdoors and life in northern Ontario?

A - I love the outdoors because it is so relaxing. It relieves any stresses that you are feeling. You use all your senses while outdoors - the air smells fresh, you can feel the sun on your face, you can take more time to see things differently. I love the slower paced life in northern Ontario, and the fact I can step out my front door and have access to clean water to swim, fish, or have fun playing with my children. There is less traffic, light and sound pollution, and I feel my children appreciate nature more because they are surrounded by it.