2 Issue 1
The Wetlands Observer
Home of the Blandings Turtle, Sandhill Crane and numerous other fascinating species.
Toward a Common Vision of
Crossing the Ts in PARTNERSHIP was the agenda of the meeting held recently at Cambrian College. To move the park to operational status, an operating agreement will need to be signed with a legal partner. This meeting was called by the Sudbury East Board of Trade (SEBOT) and involved the SEBOT, the municipalities of French River, West Nipissing, St Charles, and Markstay/Warren, the Friends of Mashkinonje, Science North, Laurentian University, Cambrian College, West Nipissing Lodge Owners, Fednor and Human Resources Development Canada. Many thanks to Cambrian College and Ivan Filion, Acting President, for hosting and moderating a very successful meeting. Thanks go also to David Ramsay, MPP Timiskaming-Cochrane who was very helpful in focusing the issues to reach an early resolution.
The meeting was to clarify the vision of Mashkinonje as a regional eco-tourism attraction and then determine how the park supporters, including the Friends of Mashkinonje, could organize themselves to develop a partnership to work with Ontario Parks to operate the park.
The park is currently non-operating. SEBOT has been working with Ontario Parks to move the park to operating status since 1998. The park doubled in size with Ontarios Living Legacy. There is strong community support to develop the park as a regional eco-tourism attraction.
The park is being planned for the development of day use trails for eco-tourism related activities such as bird watching and wildlife watching. The SEBOT buildings and lands nearby (but outside the park) will be used to develop learning based activities. The challenge will be to generate sufficient revenues to offset business operations costs and debt repayment. Community support, volunteerism and support from Ontario Parks in marketing, interpretive planning, overall operations will be essential.
The partners presented what they could bring to the project and their needs. The Friends of Mashkinonje highlighted their successful summer of fundraising. There were many offers of in kind contributions from the other partners. Cambrian College identified possible new opportunities for College involvement in the SEBOT learning centre site. This proposal was well received by Fednor.
A motion was put forward that the Sudbury East Board of Trade become the legal partner. A group called the Mashkinonje Committee, made up of representatives of the partners, would then become a committee of the SEBOT. The motion was seconded and adopted by unanimous vote.
The Friends of Mashkinonje are to be on the Mashkinonje Committee. The Friends will play a vital role in the proposed new partnership by supporting and enhancing the parks interpretive, recreational and resource protection activities; encouraging greater awareness and appreciation of the park; developing, supporting and delivering programs which relate directly to the objectives of the Friends; and soliciting and accepting donations, bequests and other gifts.
Our July trip into the Peatlands was an interesting one, timed to see the Pitcher Plants in bloom. The group included Dr. Peter Beckett from Laurentian University, Dr Joseph Hamr from Cambrian College and his wife Barbara, Kevan Cowcill from Nipissing University, Ted Price and Greg Boxwell from the Nipissing Naturalists Club Pauline Haarmyer from Ontario Parks, Doug Poirier our Assistant Park Planner, my son David, and myself. It was a beautiful day, and we enjoyed our adventure traversing the Peatlands. (Pitcher Plant to right)
We walked, listened for birds, and took pictures of varied plant life. I was feeling great because for the first time I had seen and photographed the Pitcher Plant in flower. On our way home we discovered some Rose Pegonia Orchids, small delicate, very beautiful flowers. We had to take more pictures. Then Dr. Beckett said to me, You have to come into the Peatlands at least once a week to know everything that is in here. This place is truly a treasure chest. Every trip into the Peatland has produced something new and exciting. (Rose Pegonia, left)
At present there are no trails in the Park. The easiest trail into the Peatlands crosses private property, so permission to cross is a necessity. There are two roads in the west half of the Park, the Samoset Road and the North Access Road (off Musky Island Road). Access can be attained from either of these roads, but not from the ends as there is a lodge at the end of one road and private cottages at the end of the other. The park also crosses a portion of Memquisit Road. We hope to have the trails started in the year 2003.
We were very lucky to have a lovely day for our picnic at the Sudbury East Board of Trade site at the West Arm Narrows of Lake Nipissing. Visitors had the opportunity to choose from three different types of plane ride, piloted by Harley and Liz Lang and Claude Bouffard. There were also boat rides and kayaking. The silent auction was fun with a variety of interesting auction lots from photos of the area to books and camping gear. The food was great and by the end of the day everything was sold. There were many happy faces. Next year we are planning to hold our Annual Meeting of the Friends of Mashkinonje the morning of the picnic, so that our summertime Friends can get in on the action. There will be more details in our next Wetlands Observer and on our website. (Picnic, Left - Pilots, Right)
During another trip into the Peatlands, we heard a Gray Catbird. We were trying to get a good look at it, but eventually we gave up. Then the Gray Catbird came and landed within ten feet of us, watching us watching it. We were totally immersed in the Gray Catbirds behaviour and its interest in us when we heard and saw three Sandhill cranes fly by about thirty feet away. We were amazed. It was one of those magical moments, never to be forgotten. (Great Blue Heron, Left)
While walking down the North Park Access Road to Martin Pond, on a warm sunny fall day, I was being followed by some Black-capped Chickadees. They flew onto the branches along the edge of the road. I stopped and slowly raised my hand. Within thirty seconds one had landed, flown off, and was replaced with another. Chickadees are my favourite birds, Their robust call and their interest in visitors are always welcoming.
Other interesting tidbits: We heard a Great-Horned Owl coming from the direction of the Park and we saw a Great Blue Heron in the area on December 23rd. There was also a flock of Red Crossbills around for a week. The Roughed- legged Hawks are still in the area. They will stay until the snow deepens. Due to the mild fall and global warming, some of the birds are staying longer, and the northern range of southern birds is extending. This will result in new birds finding their way up here. So keep your binoculars and bird reference guides close at hand. You never know what surprise will come your way.
I believe this winter will be the year for Pine Grosbeaks and Common Redpolls. Keep an eye out for Hoary Redpolls amongst the Common Redpolls. Also, watch for Northern Hawk Owls and Snowy Owls. They have been seen in the area.
Happy New Bird Watching Year
We received the DNA results from Trent University and the MNR on the Walleye fin clips. At this point, the DNA tests show they are Yellow Walleye. The results are not definitive because there is no Blue Walleye DNA benchmark. A new process is being developed which may help. We will keep you posted.
Welcome New Board Members
Merv Hurd is a 13 year resident of Alban who is taking over the position of Chairman of the Membership Committee.
Liz Lang is a 17 year resident of Monetville and editor of The Monetville Magpie. She has taken on the position of Secretary /Treasurer.
Ontario Living Legacy - Loudon Peatland
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