|Giant Hogweed Clean-Up|
Staff of the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority (GRCA) have removed a number of Giant Hogweed plants from the floodplain of Wilmot Creek in the Thurne Parks Conservation Area. Giant Hogweed is an invasive plant from Europe which was introduced to North America as an ornamental, but is now rapidly spreading across southern Ontario, posing a threat to native species as well as humans. It has recently been added to the provincial list of noxious weeds due to the health risk it represents.
Giant Hogweed contains a clear sap which has phototoxic properties. When exposed to the sun the sap causes severe burns and blistering to the skin, and can even potentially result in blindness if it gets in the eyes. Giant Hogweed is recognizable primarily by its great height, as it has the ability to grow from 3-5m in ideal conditions. The thick hollow stems of these plants have purple flecks and the huge leaves are deeply serrated. The flat-topped white flowers resemble giant versions of Queen Anne’s Lace.
Great care must be taken in the removal of Giant Hogweed. GRCA staff wore protective clothing, masks and goggles to ensure that no sap made contact with skin, and had soap and water on hand to wash skin, boots, clothing, and tools. The plants were clipped into pieces and the root was dug out with a shovel and placed in a plastic garbage bag for disposal to ensure there would be no re-growth. Flowers were not present, but when they are, these should be disposed of in the same way. Hogweed control should take place before it becomes established within a habitat, which means before the flowers go to seed.
Due to the risks present from interacting with the invasive plant, the GRCA urges those who believe they have spotted Giant Hogweed to submit a report through the Invasive Species Hotline at 1-800-563-7711 or call the GCRA office to have a sighting confirmed.
|The Ultimate Outdoor Lover’s Summer Camp is Coming! GRCA’s Nature Nuts Great Outdoors Adventure Camp is a Must-Do.|
Thanks to the Rotary Club of Cobourg, the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority’s Nature Nuts Summer Camp just got a little more awesome. With generous funding providing by the Rotary Club for the camping supplies, the Great Outdoors Adventure Camp is sure to be a hit for the older campers!
"We recognize the importance of partnerships in the community and appreciate the opportunity to provide assistance," said Jim Mills, the Project Committee Chair, in presenting a cheque for $3,700 to the Ganaraska Forest Centre Property Manager, Linda Givelas at a recent club meeting.
This newest camp, for children aged 9 – 14, will be a week full of outdoor fun. Starting with an orientation day for the campers to get to know each other through a variety of team-building games, campers will learn what to expect for the 4-day, overnight portion of the week. Everything from what to pack, to what to expect, will be covered. The following day, campers will board the bus from Ganaraska Millennium Conservation Area in Port Hope to the Ganaraska Forest Centre, where campers will eat, sleep and play, while under the continuous supervision of the Authority’s certified teaching staff. Mountain biking, outdoor survival skills and Treetop Trekking are just some of the activities in which campers will be involved. Each night there will be a fun and entertaining program such as themed campfires or organized games. Campers will feast on the delicious meals provided by the Ganaraska Forest Centre’s amazing kitchen staff. Then to cap off this awesome week, campers will set up the provided tents and bedrolls on the GFC grounds and spend a night under the stars, cooking, singing and socializing around the campfire.
Sound like fun? Want to know more? Just ask! The Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority is open Monday through Friday 8:30 – 4:30, or call one of the Ganaraska Forest Centre Outdoor Education Instructors directly at 905.797.2721. Register for The Great Outdoors Adventure Camp or one of the other 6 different themed Nature Nuts Summer Camp weeks. Camp descriptions, registration forms and all other important information can be found at www.grca.on.ca and www.ganaraskaforestcentre.ca – just look for the Nature Nuts squirrel.
Linda Givelas, GFC Property Manager; Beth Selby, President-Elect, Rotary Club of Cobourg; Jim Mills, Project Committee Chair
The Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority (GRCA) reminds the public that June is peak turtle nesting season and to watch for turtles crossing roads. Concerns raised by citizens in Bewdley about annual losses of snapping turtles resulting from vehicle traffic have prompted the GRCA to notify watershed residents of this issue. “During nesting season numerous female turtles leave the marsh in Bewdley and cross the road looking for places to lay their eggs,” according to Ken Towle, GRCA Terrestrial Ecologist. Preferred nesting areas are gravel shoulders of the road and nearby driveways, as well as sandy soils in nearby yards.
Snapping turtles are designated as a “Special Concern” species by the Province through the Endangered Species Act, based largely on their sensitivity to increases in roads and traffic. It takes years for turtles to mature, and scientists are concerned that continuous removal of adult females from a population, often before they are able to lay their eggs, could result in rapid decline of the species. “We should also be concerned because snapping turtles play a valuable role as scavengers of dead and diseased fish,” states Towle. This helps maintain a clean lake and stronger fish populations. At least two other turtle species at risk, the northern map turtle and the Blanding’s turtle, are known from the Rice Lake area. Snapping turtles, and the common painted turtle, can be found in wetlands and ponds throughout Northumberland County.
Turtle nesting season normally begins in late May and peaks in June. This is when they are most likely to be seen crossing roads. Hatchlings emerge in the late summer and head back to lakes and wetlands. “At this stage they are only about the size of a toonie” say Towle. “They are highly vulnerable to predators, but are also so small that drivers are unlikely to see them.” Numerous Ontario municipalities have erected turtle crossing signs in an effort to raise awareness about the issue and reduce the number of fatalities. Several years ago GRCA worked with Township of Hamilton staff to have turtle crossing signs erected in Bewdley.
How to help a turtle cross the road:
1. Make sure it is safe before stopping and leaving your vehicle. Turn on emergency flashers. Stop well off on the shoulder.
2. Look both ways before stepping on to the road to avoid oncoming vehicles.
3. Gently lift the turtle and place it on the shoulder of the side of the road in the direction it was heading.
4. In the case of large snapping turtles, (to avoid bites) a shovel can be used to gently lift and carry the turtle, or the turtle can be coaxed onto a towel or blanket and lifted by two people.
For further information on this important project, please contact Ken Towle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 905.885.8173.
|Want Healthier Kids? Let them Play Outdoors!|
Science shows that children learn best through play. The need for unstructured play and hands-on experiences in nature are essential components of wholesome child development. Teachers involved in nature-based learning report more student motivation and note significant gains in social studies, science, language arts, math and environmental literacy. Free play in natural areas has been shown to reduce the effects of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder when these children have regular access to the outdoors; sometimes known as Green Therapy or Eco-therapy.
Most importantly, 90% of children in a 2007 study on outdoor activity, report that adventurous play makes them feel happy!
There are lots of ways that parents and professionals can right the balance of children and nature in their daily lives: Let the children play. If safety is a concern, go on nature play dates. Take the time; all of these benefits are good for adults too! Get informed about the physical, emotional and cognitive benefits of nature for children. Introduce a Green Hour to a child’s day to give them a regular “dose” of unstructured, outdoor play for an hour a day.
If you can’t participate yourself, motivate your child’s school to take the students on an adventure trip at an environmental facility such as the Ganaraska Forest Outdoor Education Centre. There, children are given multiple opportunities for hands-on learning experiences, a chance to understand the interdependence of human beings and the environment, and the opportunity to be immersed in a whole other world for a day trip or a residential stay.
Consider enrolling your child in the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority’s Nature Nuts Summer Camp. Children ages 6 – 14 participate in weekly, environmentally themed camps, to learn more about the natural world around them. New this year, is a four-day overnight trip at the amazing Great Outdoors Adventure Camp.
To find out more about how to give children the gift of nature call 905-885-8173 or visit our website at: www.ganaraskaforestcentre.ca
|A Week in the Great Outdoors?! Yes Please. GRCA Nature Nuts Summer Camp Aims at Getting Your Children Outside.|
What would you do if you were lost in the forest? Do you know what a leopard frog sounds like? Have you ever heard of an egg bomb? Did you know that the spine-tailed swift is the fastest flying bird? Learn about this and much, much more at the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority’s (GRCA) Nature Nuts Summer Camp!
Spend an entire week learning, exploring and most importantly, having fun! Nature Nuts Camp offers seven weeks of outdoor adventures with different themed camps from ‘Enraptured by Raptors’ to ‘Surviving the Elements’ – or have all weeks wrapped up into one at our new Great Outdoors Adventure Camp!
This new camp week is for the older campers, aged 9 – 14, who love being outside. The week starts off with a day of orientation involving ice-breaker activities and team-building games, allowing the campers to get to know each other. Then, set off for a four-day overnight adventure at the Ganaraska Forest Centre where campers will sleep, eat and play, while under the supervision of the Forest Centre’s certified teaching staff. Amongst other things, campers will mountain bike, learn outdoor survival skills, and go Treetop Trekking throughout the days, while their nights are spent involved in entertaining programming and fun-themed campfires. This is the ultimate outdoor lovers’ overnight camp! The Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority would like to thank the Rotary Club of Cobourg for generously providing the seed money for the camping supplies for this new program.
Want to know more? Just ask! The Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority is open Monday through Friday 8:30 – 4:30, or call one of the Ganaraska Forest Centre Outdoor Education Instructors directly at 905.797.2721. Register for The Great Outdoors Adventure Camp by May 15th and be eligible for the early-bird rate! Camp descriptions, registration forms and all other important information can be found at here and at www.ganaraskaforestcentre.ca – just look for the Nature Nuts squirrel.
|A Year in Review at the GRCA|
The GRCA was formed in October 1946 under the Conservation Authorities Act and is one of the oldest conservation authorities in Ontario. February marked the celebration of the 68th year in operation, and what a year it was - eventful, inspiring, successful and rewarding.
Everything from tree planting to water sampling; guided forest hikes to electrofishing; Authority staff were on the go throughout 2014.
Three large initiatives were completed last year. The GRCA Climate Change Strategy, which provides direct, meaningful and strategic actions addressing climate change; providing information required to integrate climate change considerations into programs and operations of the Conservation Authority. Board and staff also completed the GRCA Strategic Plan - Vision 2020 - which is a roadmap for the future; it will lead the Conservation Authority from today to where it would like to be tomorrow and beyond. The Drinking Water Source Protection Plan was also approved; implementation of this plan is starting this year.
Many projects and services were added to the Conservation Authority’s list of accomplishments as well. To name a few - 36 stewardship projects approved; over 46,000 tree seedlings planted across the region; 700 trees supplied to Clarington residents and 400 to Municipality of Port Hope landowners. Several fisheries habitat projects completed; installation of metal panels in the bottom openings of the Ganaraska River railings to protect users of the walkways from the dangers of falling into the channelization. An inventory of all flood plain mapping in Ontario began; the Authority successfully completed the Showcasing Water Innovations (SWI) project which saw multi-year match funding awarded by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change to explore new and innovative ways of developing digital elevation data for floodplain mapping. The 36 year-old Ganaraska Forest Centre Outdoor Education program continued to grow; the Centre has welcomed over 50,000 visitors - from school children to community groups; corporate guests to wedding parties since 2009. Partnerships were formed here, there and everywhere – which the GRCA is continuously thankful for.
The GRCA is moving into its 69th year as a leading environmental organization with a mission to enhance and conserve across the Ganaraska Region Watershed by serving, educating, informing and engaging.
It is important to continue the connection between a healthy watershed and healthy, strong sustainable communities. The GRCA wishes to thank the communities they serve for their continued support. As they move into 2015, they do so setting a course for ambitious, innovative and bold watershed management.
Please review the 2014 Annual Report