Birds of a Feather Flock Together at the Ganaraska Forest Centre

The Ganaraska Forest and surrounding area is home to many species of birds of prey, including Owls, Buteos, and Accipiters. It is important to increase awareness of these amazing creatures as they are “specialized species” meaning they are highly adapted to their particular habitat, food source, climate conditions, etc. If any of these specific requirements change, then that species is particularly vulnerable to population decline. These, and other mainly human-related interferences, have resulted in many of these beautiful birds finding their way onto the threatened or endangered list.

When it comes to owls, the Barred Owl is most commonly seen in the forest, but also the Great Horned Owl, Screech Owl and the Saw Whet Owl.

Buteos, more recognizably named hawks, are what most people relate to when it comes to these raptors. The Red-tailed Hawk can be found in the area, as well as the Red-shouldered Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk and Rough-legged Hawk.

Then there are Accipiters, which are smaller woodland hawks known for their agile darting flight through dense forest cover. Cooper’s Hawks can be frequently seen in the Ganaraska Forest, but usually only for an instant, as this secretive bird swiftly maneuvers its way through the trees. The Sharp-shinned Hawk and Northern Goshawk are less commonly seen Accipiters.

On Saturday, November 14th, from 1:00 to approximately 3:00 pm, join the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority to learn more about these awesome creatures. Ontario’s Birds of Prey will be held at the Ganaraska Forest Centre and will include special guests from the Ontario Specialized Species Centre. The event will include an interactive and educational discussion about these amazing animals that we call raptors, with a variety of live birds headlining the afternoon.

To take advantage of this unique opportunity to get up close to these highly refined and localized birds of prey, please call the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority at 905-885-8173 to register. Fees are $15/adult and $8/youth (8-16 years of age).

Fish on Drugs?

Help us keep “Fish off drugs!” These are two concepts that don't typically get put together, but it's true that fish are likely on drugs in many of our watersheds, including Lake Ontario.

When you flush prescription medication or personal care products down the toilet, into septic beds, or down the sink, the chemicals can have harmful effects on the behavior, growth, and reproduction of fish, as well as other organisms. These products can also enter the environment through landfills and contaminated groundwater. Even over the counter products can be detected in the natural environment, generally downstream from sewage treatment facilities and urban areas. Some pharmaceuticals are degraded to various extents in sewage treatment plants, but others leave the plant in active forms.

Active residues of pharmaceuticals have been detected in surface water, and they may persist in the environment for long periods of time. For example, many people keep or use ibuprofen on a regular basis. When ingested, 70-80% of ibuprofen is not used by our bodies, and the unmetabolized component is excreted in urine. In areas of North America where studies have been conducted, this has resulted in widespread detection of the drug in surface waters, along with within tissues of wild caught fish. Studies have shown that fish exposed to levels that are typical for sewage treatment plant effluent can result in skeletal development, immune function and metabolic impacts. Estrogen also enters the natural environment in a similar way, and has been noted to produce intersex (both male and female parts), result in immune response issues, and may be responsible for some fish kills. In another study, anxiety drugs altered the behaviour, while other studies have found the presence of certain antidepressants within tissues of fish. These can negatively impact the health of local fisheries resources, and pose unknown impacts over the long term. These compounds have also been documented to move up the food web, and have been found in fish eating species, such as Osprey.

Despite extensive monitoring by the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority, it has not conducted any test locally looking for pharmaceuticals, and the above examples are from elsewhere in North America. Effective environmental detection methods are being developed by different agencies, and a detection strategy will become commonly applied to assess the current situation. There are currently no test methods to assess whether negative effects may occur after long-term environmental diffuse exposure in fish, other animals, and humans, during the vulnerable periods of development, on aquatic micro-organism or how it may affect other animals. As residents, you can help avoid the presence of different pharmaceutical products in the environment by disposing of drugs properly, follow advised dosage levels, and help to spread the word about fish on drugs.

Written By: Brian Morrison, Fisheries Biologist


Union Gas and Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority Partner to Make the Ganaraska Millennium Conservation Area Picnic Shelter Wheelchair Assessible

With a $2,000.00 grant generously donated by Union Gas and the help of Union Gas employees, the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority (GRCA) have installed a path and wheelchair ramp into the picnic shelter at the Ganaraska Millennium Conservation Area on County Road 28 in Port Hope. Many residents and visitors to the area enjoy picnicking in the Conservation Area while enjoying the natural beauty of the Conservation Area and the Ganaraska River.

“At Union Gas, we care about the environment,” said Ed Gouweloos, Union Gas utility services construction manager Cobourg.  “We’re proud to support the important work that Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority is doing for environmental conservation in this community.”

For more information on the Ganaraska Millennium Conservation Area, the Ganaraska River, as well as other important projects the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority is undertaking in our watershed, please contact the Conservation Authority at 905-885-8173.


GRCA Seeking Unusual Donations

The Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority (GRCA) is looking for local support and is asking any residents who have animal furs or skulls, period tools, and other artifacts, to please donate them to the Ganaraska Forest Centre (GFC) for use in their new Trappers and Traders program.

The GRCA has developed this new outdoor education program based on the historical concept of trapping and fur trading in the Northumberland County area. Several items to enhance the hands-on component of this program are required: Ontario mammal hides from beavers, deer, mink, muskrat, red fox, otter, fisher, coyote, raccoon, ermine, badger or skunk. Plus any items from the late 1700’s to early 1800’s era, such as fire steel, powder horns, fire steel boxes, shaving kits, clothing, animal traps from this time era, Hudson Bay Company blankets, awls, kettles, tobacco boxes, combs, buttons, looking glasses, sashes, shoes, maps, books and lamps, are also welcome.

The Ganaraska Forest Centre has offered high quality outdoor education programs to schools and youth groups since 1978. Schools can choose a one-day visit, or multi-night residential stay with dormitory rooms that accommodate up to 80 children, separate and dedicated teacher's suites with their own bathroom facilities, and a full-service kitchen and expert culinary staff who can meet any dietary needs. GFC Outdoor Education Programs offer unique opportunities for experiential and collaborative learning while giving children the gift of nature.

If you can assist the GRCA by providing donated items, they can be dropped off at the GRCA’s Port Hope Office, located on County Road 28 or at the Ganaraska Forest Centre located on Cold Springs Camp Road just off of Country Road 9.  If there are items that need to be picked up or if there are any questions, please contact the Ganaraska Forest Centre at (905)797-2721.

Interning at the GRCA - A Lesson in Stewardship

The term “Summer Internship” leaves a somewhat bitter taste in the mouths of many University students.  If movies and TV shows are to be believed, the main role of students in an organization is that of a coffee and doughnut fetcher, with the occasional photocopying session thrown in to really diversify the work experience.  However, the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority acknowledged and defied these stereotypes from my very first day.  Simply put, many conservation authorities are simply too busy and too resource-efficient to allow even a single student to spend their time in an unproductive manner.
As I am currently fulfilling the role of “Stewardship Intern,” most of my day-to-day work focuses on ways to involve the community in projects to preserve the health of our fragile watershed.

Stewardship is an interesting mixed-bag of approaches that all strive toward the same goal, the protection of the environment through conservation and sustainable practices.  This can encompass a wide variety of activities, ranging from erosion control methods to raising awareness regarding the benefits of native plants and effective water use.  The GRCA is proud to deliver a groundbreaking stewardship program that sets an example for other conservation authorities throughout Ontario.
Two of the programs I was involved in under the Stewardship umbrella were the Clean Water Healthy Lands Financial Assistance Program (CWHLFAP) and the Greening Your Grounds (GYG) initiative. 

CWHLFAP provides landowners with the opportunity to apply for grants for any eco-minded projects that they wish to undertake. A common complaint against eco-based projects is that they cost money and provide nothing in return, which is definitively false.  Using, in part, CWHLFAP funds, a landowner in Cobourg created a rain garden that looks stunning, manages storm flows in the best way possible, and provides a sanctuary for all sorts of local wildlife like butterflies and bumblebees.
Greening Your Grounds is a workshop series aimed at eliminating overland water flow during storms and incorporating it back into groundwater (a much healthier practice) all while improving the look of a landscape.  Examples of projects suggested in the GYG workshops include rain barrels, soakaway pits, permeable pavement, and native plant gardens.  The best part is that many of these projects are eligible for funds under the CWHLFAP program!
Although my summer work term draws to an end in September, the learning I accomplished here will stay with me for the remainder of my academic career.  It’s rare that a summer student such as myself gets to experience such a wide range of challenges in a single term.
For more information regarding the GRCA, CWHLFAP program, GYG workshops, or any other stewardship-related inquiries, feel free to send us an email at
stewardship@grca.on.ca, or call at 905-885-8173. 

Written by: Cole Fischer, GRCA Stewardship Intern 

Give the Gift of Nature to Your Child Before They Go Back to School

With summer quickly (and sadly) coming to an end, the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority (GRCA) invites local parents to give the gift of nature to their child before school resumes.

Due to popular demand, the GRCA has wrapped-up all 6 weeks of Nature Nuts Summer Camp into The Best of Nature Nuts Camp, taking place August 31st – September 4th! This new camp will feature highlights from each of our themed weeks, including Stomp Rockets and Burrowing Owl Game from Enraptured by Raptors week, Froggy Fling and Gecko Tails from Reptiles and Amphibians week, Fire Triangle and Fox Walk games from Surviving the Elements week, UV Evidence Search from Crime Scene Investigation week and more fun activities and water games from Crafty by Nature week.

The week will end with a fun visit to the Ganaraska Forest Centre (GFC). For an additional $25.00 per camper and as an added bonus, a fully supervised, one-night, optional overnight adventure (on the Thursday night) will be included for hearty campers to spend a night under the stars in provided tents and bedrolls from the Rotary Club of Cobourg (subject to enrolment).

The Best of Nature Nuts Camp is guaranteed to be one of your child’s favourite summertime memories! The GRCA and GFC are open Monday through Friday 8:30 – 4:30; please contact us for more information, or visit
www.grca.on.ca and www.ganaraskaforestcentre.ca – just look for the Nature Nuts squirrel.


When Household Pets Become Invasive Pests

Pet ownership is a big commitment and the duties of caring for a pet can quickly become overwhelming. When the responsibility becomes too much, some pet owners choose to release their pets into what they think is their natural habitat. However, many pets sold in pet stores are not native to Ontario and can cause havoc when released. These pets are considered invasive species to Ontario lands and waters.

The common goldfish, which can be bought at pet stores for as little as a dollar, can become a huge problem when released into local ponds. Goldfish are native to eastern Asia but are held in captivity as pets worldwide. When they are not limited by the size of an aquarium or the quantity of food, goldfish released into the wild can reach up to four pounds in weight and forty centimetres in length. Goldfish appear to thrive in disturbed ecosystems, and have the ability to compete for both habitat and food with native species, as they are a predator to many small fish. They also have the ability to repopulate rapidly and adapt to low levels of oxygen and cold water temperatures, which further displaces native species.

The red eared slider turtle is also considered an invasive species in Ontario ecosystems. The red eared slider is native to the southern U.S, but has been introduced to Ontario waterways through the release of unwanted pets. Red eared sliders are very aggressive and can displace native turtles, many of which are species at risk. Red eared sliders also have the ability to carry tropical diseases, and can spread these to native turtles who have no defense against the exotic pathogens.

Fish and invertebrates aren’t the only releases which cause concern. When getting rid of an aquatic pet, many owners choose to dump the contents of their aquarium into local waterways. Aquatic plants used in aquariums include water solider and water chestnut, both of which are invasive species to Ontario. So far, the only occurrence of water solider in North America is in the Trent River, and it is a major cause for concern as it crowds out native plants and significantly reduces biodiversity.

Invasive species pose a growing threat to Ontario’s biodiversity and cause millions of dollars in damage annually. If you have any questions about invasive species in Ontario or wish to report an invasive species in your area, please contact the Invading Species Hotline at 1-800-563-7711 or visit

There are also ways to get involved in the removal of invasive plants with organizations like Ontario’s Invading Species Awareness Program, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunter, and your local conservation authority. I am enjoying the opportunity to spend my summer working as an Invasive Species Community Outreach Liaison with Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority (GRCA) and the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH).  Please contact me at the GRCA to learn how you can get involved: 905-885-8173.

Written By: Kelly Christensen, GRCA/ OFAH Summer Student


Conservation Authorities Act Under Discussion and Review

NEWMARKET (July 20, 2015) Conservation Authorities are pleased to participate in the discussion and review of the Conservation Authorities Act as announced by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

“The role of Conservation Authorities around Ontario’s natural resources has changed significantly over the years in response to increasing challenges to our water and land resources,” said Kim Gavine, General Manager of Conservation Ontario.

“Stresses such as climate change, rapid growth, and changing land uses significantly challenge the health of Ontario’s watersheds. The work of Conservation Authorities has had to change in order to reflect this and we expect to see this discussed through the review of the Conservation Authorities Act.”

Ontario’s 36 Conservation Authorities are local watershed management agencies that deliver a wide variety services and programs that protect and manage water and other natural resources in partnership with all levels of government, agencies, industry, and landowners.

The original Conservation Authorities Act was established in 1946. Some amendments have been made over time, including those in the 1990s which addressed local programs, fees, partnerships and other areas. In 2006, the scope of Conservation Authorities’ regulatory responsibilities changed to encompass additional water related hazards.

The Minster of Natural Resources and Forestry has posted a discussion paper for a 91 day comment period. The Ministry states that the objective for this review is to ‘improve the legislative, regulatory and policy framework that currently governs the creation, operation and activities of conservation authorities that may be required in the face of a changing environment’.

The discussion paper highlights and solicits feedback around three areas of interest: governance, funding mechanisms, and roles and responsibilities of Conservation Authorities.

“We look forward to having discussions with many different partners throughout this process,” said Gavine. “Conservation Authorities are committed to improving and streamlining watershed management in Ontario in order to ensure sustainable natural resources which are needed to support a vibrant economy, strong environment, and healthy people.”

-30 –

For more information about Conservation Authorities and their programs: www.conservationontario.ca

Kim Gavine, General Manager, kgavine@conservationontario.ca 905.895.0716 ext 231

Jane Lewington, Marketing & Communications Specialist, jlewington@conservationontario.ca  905.895.0716.  ext 222


Get Out and Get Active!

With summer officially upon us, we’ve all been enjoying the sun on our faces, dreaming of what our plans will be for those hot vacation days. Maybe I’ll take my family for a day of Treetop Trekking in the Ganaraska Forest? Or perhaps bike along the Waterfront Trail? Better yet, maybe we’ll canoe out to that island on Rice Lake? Physical activity is a key component to summer fun, no matter what you choose to do.

The Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority (GRCA) suggests that people of all ages take the time to be active this summer. Keep your children busy with physical activities and lead by example with hikes, swimming, and other outdoor adventures. Register your wee one into a summer camp or get them that fishing rod that they’ve been eager to try out…anything to keep them on the go!

There are numerous summer activities available within our community. The GRCA Nature Nuts Summer Camp offers popular themed-weeks of fun-filled activities where children who love the outdoors will explore the wilderness through scavenger hunts, environmental games, creative crafts, and so much more. New to Nature Nuts this year is The Great Outdoors Adventure Camp – the ultimate outdoor lovers’ week-long overnight camp at the Ganaraska Forest Centre. 

The GRCA also offers the OFAH Tackleshare program. The loaner site, located at the GRCA office on Hwy 28, provides fishing rods, stocked tackle boxes, educational material, and Young Angler Licenses - encouraging people of all ages to get out and get active! To start your child’s summer off right, why not register him or her for the 2015 Fishing Derby being held on July 10th at the Port Hope Marina? Children 17 and under are invited to join the derby from 9:00am – 1:00pm – meet at the fish cleaning station on Mill Street for this fun-filled event.

For more information on these activities and many more, contact the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority at 905.885.8173 or visit www.grca.on.ca or www.ganaraskaforestcentre.ca.

See you outside!


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

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


Turtle Time 

Want Healthier Kids? Let Them Play Outdoors! 

A Week in the Great Outdoors?! Yes Please.

Grassroots Ecology: Promoting Green Grounds in Ganaraska 

Spring E-News from the GRCA 

GRCA Issues Watershed Conditions Statement 

Spring Water Safety 

Guaranteed Sweet Family Fun at the Ganaraska Forest Centre 

Trees for Rural Roads Applications Due Soon 

Spring Flows: Stay Clear of Creeks, Ponds and Lakes 

Clean Water and Healthy Land in a Changing Climate 

26th Annual OFAH/Ganaraska Forest Centre Conservation Dinner 

Fishes of the Ganaraska Region 

Enbridge and Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority Partner to Offer Free Workshops to Landowners to Help Enhance Green Landscaping throughout the Community 

Kawartha Farm Stewardship Workshop a Success, Despite Snow

Less Than Two Weeks Left to Order Tree Seedlings 

3rd Annual Kawartha Farm Stewardship Workshop 

GRCA Offers Several Funding Options for Spring Tree Planting 

Holiday Planning with the GRCA 

Rocky Ramp Improves Local Fish Passage 

Union Gas and GRCA Partner to Protect Ganaraska River 

Birds of Prey in the Ganaraska Forest 

Ganaraska and Trent Source Protection Plan Approved

Planning on Building on the Oak Ridges Moraine? What You Need to Know.

Sampling fish from the watercourses within the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority are: A Shocking Story


Township of Alnwick Haldimand Township of Cavan Monaghan Clarington Town of Cobourg Region of Durham Hamilton Township Port Hope City of Kawartha Lakes Conservation Ontario
Admin | © GRCA 2015 | Privacy Policy | Site Map | Website Powered by SiteMajic