Ontario Nature Carolinian East — Fall Meeting

Ontario Nature Carolinian East — Fall Meeting

Report by Jan Grincevicius

Twice a year the member clubs under the umbrella of Ontario Nature, Carolinian East Region, meet to update their activities and discuss other current issues. The member clubs take turns hosting these meetings. This time, the Fall Meeting was hosted by the Norfolk Field Naturalists in the Walsingham Community Centre.

Ontario Nature was represented by Lisa Richardson, Nature Network and Communications Coordinator. Representatives from eight groups were present: Niagara Falls Nature Club, Halton/North Peel Naturalist Club, Hamilton Naturalists’ Club, Peninsula Field Naturalists, South Peel Naturalists’ Club, Norfolk Field Naturalists, The Long Point Biosphere, and Nature’s Calling Environmental Education.

Discussion highlights include:

Halton/North Peel Naturalists Club

  • The Bees and Beyond — A Pollinator and Biodiversity Workshop was well attended. Participants learned about the importance of pollinators and native plants. Each participant received six native plants.
  • Members participate in monarch and bird counts.
  • A waste management program and workshop has been speared by Fiona Reid.
  • Member, Don Scallen, has written several articles for the ON magazine.

Hamilton Naturalists’ Club

  • A book celebrating the Club’s centennial year has been published.
  • The club is involved in campaigns to encourage provincial government to not deregulate.
  • A member has been appointed to the Niagara Conservation Authority. The hope is to develop a partnership.

Long Point Biosphere

  • Lake Erie’s water levels are very high which has necessitated the rebuilding of fencing and some underpasses along the causeway into Long Point. This fencing prevents animals from crossing the road, but the underpasses allow them to move from one side to the other.
  • A conference is planned for November 8th. Topics of discussion include: phragmites, snakes, butterflies, etc. There will be presentations by students working on their Master’s theses. It is a good networking opportunity. The cost is $25.
  • Have an e-library of videos aimed at children on the website.
  • Important to develop a relationship with young people through social media using Facebook (aimed at older persons), Twitter and Instagram (both aimed at younger persons). These tools can be used to video and post events to reach and educate people.
  • Can use the INaturalist app to identify animals and insects in the field.
  • Two students have been doing presentations at schools regarding conservation of turtles and have written a book on the subject.

Nature’s Calling Environmental Education

  • The focus is connecting children to nature. Three opportunities are in place: (1) Forest School (held at Ryerson Camp) for ages 3 to 5 which is an alternative to the traditional kindergarten program; (2) ages 6 to 11 attend a program (held at Ryerson Camp) one day a week for home-schooled children; and (3) Circus in the Trees (held near Scotland) which is an opportunity for home-schooled children to attend one day a week. The biggest issue is finding a suitable location.
  • Offer outdoor based education opportunities for students enrolled in traditional schools.
  • Hold a number of hikes each year for the general public.
  • Is self-sufficient because of donations and program participant fees.

Niagara Falls Nature Club

  • Hold Wednesday evening walks from May to September.
  • Partners with Niagara Parks and the Butterfly Conservatory.
  • Concern with wetlands not being evaluated and, therefore, disappearing.
  • Interested in green burials where the plot is planted with native plants. This can protect the land and pollinators.
  • Working on policy development with the municipality.

Norfolk Field Naturalists

  • The Harry B. Barrett Fund has surpassed its goal of $10,000 required to match a donation from an anonymous donor. This fund has been designated to provide bursaries to biology students. The next step is to develop criteria.
  • NFN financially supports Nature’s Calling Environmental Education.
  • Members participate in butterfly and Christmas bird counts as well as the Great Canadian Birdathon.

Peninsula Field Naturalists’ Club

  • Had a booth at the last conference of the Ontario Federation of Ornithologists and were able to get some new members.
  • Have held several walks with OFO.
  • Members participate in bird counts in Buffalo.

South Peel Naturalists’ Club

  • Members participate in a Christmas bird count as well as the Great Canadian Birdathon.
  • Participant in swift watching walks with Halton/North Peel
  • Have been doing outreach to community groups for the purpose of increasing membership. Hoping to attract younger persons to the club.
  • Have a website, Facebook page and distributes its newsletter electronically.
  • Concern that the current provincial administration is apparently eroding natural heritage

General Points of Discussion

  • Strategies to attract new members include Facebook (aimed at older persons), Twitter and Instagram (both aimed at younger persons).
  • Regarding the use the INaturalist app, some felt using a field guide teaches persons to determine the species by comparison to other species, thus teaching educational skills.
  • Concerns with development which is not protecting natural areas. There are not large enough buffer zones. Nature Conservancy of Canada is active in Norfolk with over 3,000 acres protected.
  • Concern with the eroding of conservation authorities.
  • Ontario Nature
    • New groups admitted to Ontario Nature are: (1) Lakeshore Eco-Network (Carolinian West) which plants trees and protects nature to fight climate change on the Lake Huron coast; and (2) Haldimand Stewardship Council (Carolinian East) which provides resources regarding responsible stewardship to farmers, woodlot owners and business owners.
    • 10th Annual Youth Summit for Biodiversity was held at Geneva
    • Restoration at the Sydenham River Nature Reserve included: creation of two vernal pools, planting of a tallgrass prairie and tree planting.
    • A prescribed burn was undertaken at the Stone Road Alvar Nature Preserve.
    • Protocols regarding American ginseng, vernal pool and snake monitoring are available
    • Annual Meeting is scheduled for June 5-7 at the Evergreen Resort on the South Bruce Peninsular.

    Following the meeting, participants went for an enjoyable walk in Backus Woods.