|Spring Water Safety|
It is important to know about the natural hazards we could encounter during this time of year, when the warmer weather is upon us. Activities like ice fishing, pond hockey and hiking along stream side trails can be perfectly safe while everything is good and frozen; but when mild temperatures begin to become a daily occurrence, the nice weather begins the melting of the built up snow and ice, and this is when the hazards become more of a concern.
Typically, ice break-up and fast flowing waters wouldn’t happen until well into spring, but in the past few years we have had significant mid-winter thaws that melt snow, causing high flows and ice breakup. Whether we have conditions like these or a standard spring thaw, the rivers and creeks in the Ganaraska region react quickly to the conditions with increased runoff. Under these circumstances, ice cover becomes thin and cracks, and the water beneath the ice starts moving faster and higher. The most dangerous scenario occurs when flows have increased but ice cover is still intact. On the surface, everything looks safe, meanwhile beneath the ice there is fast moving, very cold water. The average temperature of melting snow and ice water is 0-5o. River banks can get very slick, and the danger of slipping down one or falling through the ice into the water is minor compared to what happens soon after.
When one is emerged in cold water, hypothermia can set in very quickly. Being aware of the dangers and educated about this is very important. Hypothermia can occur in the matter of 5-10 minutes; your body loses heat rapidly and soon the blood from all of your extremities will travel to your heart and internal organs in an attempt to keep you alive. It limits your ability to keep yourself afloat, causes unclear thinking, lack of motor skills, and eventually, unconsciousness occurs. Hypothermia is life threatening; immersion in water at or near freezing can result in death within 15 minutes.
Please remember that water bodies of all sizes, from ditches to rivers, can become dangerous under spring-like conditions. They may look safe, but we all should just stay away from them. Always keep in mind how quickly something can happen. Stay safe, stay informed, be cautious, and make sure children are aware of the dangers when it comes to the spring thaw. The most important message to be passed along is to just “Stay Away!”
|Guaranteed Sweet Family Fun at the Ganaraska Forest Centre|
The Sugar Shack is open once again for the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority’s (GRCA) Annual Maple Syrup Program. Mark Saturday, March 28th on your calendar so that you don’t miss out on this fun-filled day at the Ganaraska Forest Centre (GFC). There are activities planned for the whole family from 10:00 am until 1:00 pm.
Enjoy a guided tour of the Maple Valley sap-collecting route, then listen to tales of traditional maple syrup making around the campfire as the sap boils in the outdoor cauldron. There will be demonstrations of native pioneer syrup making methods and modern sap collection systems, then take a visit to the sugar shack operation and learn how a sap evaporator works. Children can participate in craft making and face painting before everyone sits down and enjoys a classic pancake breakfast.
Admission rates for this annual event are $12 per adult, $6 per child (ages 16 & under). Pre-registration is not required; simply stop at the gatehouse on your way in to purchase your tickets. For further information please call the Ganaraska Forest Centre at 905.797.2721 or email us at email@example.com or contact GRCA at 905.885.8173 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ganaraska Forest Centre is approximately a 20 minute drive from both Port Hope and Orono. If you’re travelling from the west, exit Highway 115 and travel east about 10 km on Durham Road 9, then turn left on Cold Springs Camp Road and proceed 4 km to the Forest Centre. From the east, travel west off County Road 28 onto County Road 9 and proceed about 2 km west of Elizabethville, then turn right at Cold Springs Camp Road and proceed 4 km to the Forest Centre.
|Trees for Rural Roads Applications Due Soon|
The weather has finally warmed up and it is time to think about tree planting. Trees for Rural Roads applications are due by March 31, 2015.
The Trees for Rural Roads Program offers trees free of charge to Clarington and Port Hope rural residents to be planted along municipal roadways that border private land. Participants have their choice of a number of native tree species.
The program, is delivered in partnership with Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority (GRCA), Central Lake Ontario Region Conservation Authority (CLOCA), Municipality of Clarington and Municipality of Port Hope.
The benefits of the program not only include increased tree canopy cover and wildlife habitat, but also climate change mitigation, local history preservation and community engagement through volunteerism. In essence, the Trees for Rural Roads program benefits the local environment, community and economy.
To date, more than 2,800 trees have been planted along municipal roadways in Clarington and Port Hope, with the help of 90 rural households who volunteered their property and efforts to the program. The program receives funding through Maple Leaves Forever for native maples at a rate of 25 per cent of the purchase price of the tree stock.
For more information on the Trees for Rural Roads Program, visit http://heritage.clarington.net/programs/treesrural.php
|Spring Flows: Stay Clear of Creeks, Ponds and Lakes|
With March Break around the corner the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority would like to remind residents and especially children of the dangers that exist around local streams, rivers, ponds and lakes during the spring breakup.
We have experienced a winter with below normal temperatures and heavy snows in the month of February. Total snowfall amounts for the winter have been near normal; but with the persistent cold, most of the snow is still waiting for warm weather to melt and runoff. In addition, thick ice sheets have built up on rivers resulting in a potential for ice jams.
As spring approaches, we look forward to getting outdoors to enjoy the warmer weather. However, the onset of spring will again bring melting snow, rain and breakup of ice along rivers, streams, ponds and lakes. During this time of year we can expect higher, faster flowing water in most watercourses. In addition, slippery and unstable stream banks and extremely cold water temperatures can lead to very hazardous conditions close to any water body.
Please exercise caution and keep an eye out for children in your care around all bodies of water over the next few weeks and help make this a safe and enjoyable spring.
The Conservation Authority will continue to monitor stream conditions and will issue messages when necessary. If you notice an ice jam or potential flooding hazard please contact the GRCA office at (905) 885-8173.
|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
|Clean Water and Healthy Land in a Changing Climate|
As global temperatures continue to rise as a result of Climate Change, and extreme weather events become more frequent, there are increased risks to personal safety and the health of our watersheds. However, there are preventative measures we can all take to help mitigate some of the negative impacts and ensure that our watersheds remain healthy and resilient to effects of climate change.
The Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority (GRCA) offers stewardship programs, including the Clean Water Healthy Land Financial Assistance Program to landowners who want to implement projects on their property that benefit the watershed. Many environmental projects are eligible for funding assistance, including tree planting. Tree planting projects increase natural cover and buffer sensitive natural features like streams and wetlands. Trees and shrubs help to stabilize soils which can minimize erosion, provide important shade cover to protect water from getting too warm, and enhance wildlife habitat. Every spring the GRCA enlists volunteer tree planters to help increase natural cover and build resiliency into their local watersheds.
Even in urban areas it is important to protect and enhance the natural environment. Mature trees provide shade to buildings reducing our reliance on air conditioning. Parks with clean trails and water create opportunities for healthy active recreation and increase habitat for wildlife.
On our own properties there are many ways to minimize our impact by creating a more natural landscape. Native plants are drought tolerant and locally adapted to thrive in your yard. They also provide habitat for insects and birds. If you need to water your yard or garden, take from a rain barrel instead of a hose to reduce water consumption. Municipalities use a lot of electricity to purify water and pump it to our neighborhoods.
Water runs off urban surfaces very quickly and picks up contaminants such as lawn fertilizer and road salts before entering local streams and Lake Ontario, which is our source of drinking water. Fortunately, we can slow down and treat that runoff to lessen the impact on natural flowing waters. Consider implementing one of the following to green your grounds and in turn, help protect your watershed and the natural features and functions it provides.
~ Direct your downspout away from hard surfaces and into a rain barrel or onto your lawn
~ Plant drought tolerant native plants to avoid unnecessary watering
~ Create a rain garden
~ Use eco-friendly lawn care practices
~ Use eco-friendly ice melter for winter safety
~ Dispose of waste responsibly; only rainwater goes into storm drains.
~ Try installing a green roof, they have many benefits!
The GRCA is offering free environmental landscaping workshops in your area to promote the environmental benefit and pleasing aesthetics of native plants and water conservation.
If you are interested in GRCA stewardship programs, creating a more natural landscape on your property or just have questions about your watershed, call the GRCA office at 905-885-8173 or visit www.grca.on.ca.
What steps are we taking? Read the GRCA Climate Change Strategy.
|26th Annual OFAH/GFC Conservation Dinner Tickets Now Available|
On Saturday, April 11th the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority (GRCA) and the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) will be holding their annual conservation dinner and auction at the Cobourg Lions Community Centre. Each year proves to be very successful and the Authority is anticipating another great event, with funds supporting the outdoor education program at the Ganaraska Forest Centre (GFC).
An average of 300 people take in the evening of great food, raffle draws, and both silent and live auctions; all showing their support for such a worthy investment. Auction items ranging from hand-sculpted art to weekend VIA Rail getaways, framed prints to wine packages, are taken home by guests who enjoy a night out mingling with fellow community members and supporters of the Conservation Authority and outdoor education centre.
The Forest Centre houses programs for over 8,000 students each year and holds many public programs for visitors of all ages from the surrounding communities. The 25-plus programs offered to the school children range from Outdoor Survival Skills to Alternative Energy, all meeting the Ontario educational curriculum and taught by Ontario-certified instructors.
Tickets are now sold out for this special evening. For further information on supporting this annual event through donations or sponsorship, please call the GRCA at 905.885.8173 or visit www.grca.on.ca.