Lions, school board named NVCA champs
Volunteers, land stewards and community partners took centre stage at the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority’s (NVCA) Evening of Thanks on April 17.
The event, held during National Volunteer Week, celebrated the contributions of individuals, organizations and businesses that provide their time and talent to protect and enhance the environment of the Nottawasaga Valley watershed.
“Last year we were fortunate to have more than 1,500 volunteers step forward to help plant trees, make maple syrup, help with summer camp programming and much, much more,” said Town of the Blue Mountains Deputy Mayor Gail Ardiel, chair of the NVCA board of directors. “NVCA would not be able to deliver the high quality stewardship and education programs we do without the support of our volunteers, private landowner stewards and community partners.”
NVCA also announced the recipients of the Conservation Champion Awards at the event. Conservation champions are individuals, community groups, businesses, partners or agencies who have contributed to an environmental improvement project in one of the NVCA’s 18 member municipalities, spanning across Simcoe, Dufferin and Grey counties.
The Stayner Lions Club received the Conservation Champion group award for their project to plant 150 trees across Clearview Township in 2017. The Lions offered a sugar maple to each of the nine community halls in Clearview and planted the rest in settlement areas, including many in Station Park in Stayner.
NVCA also recognized the Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB)with a Conservation Partner Award. For more than three decades, the SCDSB and NVCA have worked together to provide thousands of students each year with meaningful and memorable experiences in nature. Among the many projects that the SCDSB and NVCA currently offer are a series of multi-day natural habitat workshops that see Grade 4 students learn about and take action to enhance the wild spaces and wildlife in their school neighbourhoods, and hands on environmental education for high school students focused on stream rehabilitation, storm water management and wilderness survival skills.
Matt Monkman received the Conservation Champion, Individual, award for his work to protect birds, mammals and other creatures that can become ensnared in discarded fishing line.
Monkman designed, built and installed special tubes to allow anglers to have spot to put their used fishing line. The tubes are located at popular fishing locations along the Nottawasaga River and its tributaries, Lake Simcoe and other lakes and rivers in Ontario. Once collected, Monkman then sends the fishing line back to manufacturers for recycling.
The Town of New Tecumseth was recognized with Conservation Champion, Municipal, award for its long-standing support of the South Simcoe Streams Network, a partner agency of the NVCA. Each year, the Town provides South Simcoe Streams Network with a central facility from which to stage its spring ‘Trees for Streams’ events. Further, New Tecumseth staff and council representatives serve with the network, and the Town provides funding support for local projects through the New Tecumseth Streams Committee. In 2017, the Town was an active partner in community planting events at Coventry Park in Tottenham and at Riverdale Park in Alliston.
The Young Conservation Champion award went to two environmentally-minded young people. Aidan McDiarmid from Bear Creek Secondary School was recognized for his nearly 150 hours of volunteer contributions to stewardship and conservation causes, including time spent doing river restoration and tree planting with NVCA and its partner organizations.
Cassidy Morgan from Jean Vanier Catholic High School was recognized for her efforts to enhance fish habitat along Coates Creek, including helping with fish migration studies, tree planting and building wood duck boxes.
NVCA’s Agricultural Advisory Committee recognized two projects with Agricultural Stewardship Awards:
Bill Bannerman of BJ Construction was recognized for his efforts to restore 620 m of stream channel and plant over 3,000 trees on his farm.
The Morgan Family was recognized for the stewardship initiatives they undertook on their family farm on Coates Creek, including restoring 2 hectares of wetland, planting over 3,300 trees, naturalizing 1,500 m of stream channel, and installing agricultural erosion controls that will reduce soil loss by nearly 4 tonnes a year.
These projects were the work of many hands: 166 volunteers helped plant the trees on the farms. Both of these projects illustrate the benefits of the agricultural and environmental sectors coming together with community groups and individuals for the health of the watershed.