|Volume 4 - Issue 1
2004 is YEAR OF THE WETLAND
Another Milestone for Mashkinonje
by Chuck Miller
Park Superintendent, Mashkinonje / Ontario Parks
For many residents of Sudbury East and West Nipissing a milestone was
reached on March 1, 2004 with the release of the Mashkinonje Approved Park
Management Plan. The park is located at the West Arm and West Bay of Lake
Nipissing and Highway #64.
The park plan has been a grassroots undertaking from the beginning. Local
residents, educators and resort owners have long been aware of the
educational, ecological and social values associated with the park's
provincially significant wetlands. A resort owner in 1998 approached the
Sudbury East Board of Trade in with an idea of sharing the wonders of the
park with others by developing a series of low-intensity day use trails.
The Board of Trade took the idea forward to Ontario Parks and the
Mashkinonje planning was underway.
Planning is not a quick process and considerable time, effort and money go
into planning a provincial park. The Board of Trade mobilized a group of
volunteers including; aviators; university and college educators;
naturalists; sportsmen and local business to make the Mashkinonje Project
a reality. The first stage of planning was to complete resource
inventories. Inventories require staffing and funding and FedNor and HRDC
became involved assisted by knowledgeable volunteers. Youth staff, funded
as FedNor interns, publicized and made the word, "Mashkinonje", a
recognizable brand. The park doubled in size with provincial land use
planning because of local support.
Terms of reference, background files and a preliminary park plan have all
benefited from public reviews. The Friends of Mashkinonje was created and
took on fundraising, special events, and archeological studies.
Municipalities at French River, West Nipissing, St. Charles and Markstay-Warren
looked at the potential of becoming joint operating partners in
association with the Board of Trade as the Mashkinonje Committee. The
municipalities and Economic Partners became involved in economic studies
on operating and developing the park.
The Park Management Plan is the major document outlining the protection of
the natural and cultural values, summarizing public consultations and
determining the implementation strategy for the park for the next 20
years. The vision of Mashkinonje has evolved as a place of protected
wetlands; where people will learn of wetland ecosystems and species;
residents and non-residents alike enjoy self propelled recreational
opportunities, and local resorts will be provided with an opportunity to
share the natural wonders of Nipissing's West Arm and West Bay with
Implementing the plan is the next task.
|Did you know. . .
. . . that each acre of wetland creates as much oxygen as
an acre of rainforest?
Friends of Mashkinonje Observations
By Angela Martin
This newsletter was held back so that we would be able to share the latest
milestone for the Mashkinonje Provincial Park. It has taken the
Mashkinonje Provincial Committee six years to attain an Approved Park
Management Plan from Ontario Parks. The next steps are the exciting ones:
building the trails and constructing interpretive signage so that all will
be able to enjoy Mashkinonje. Although the process is lengthy,
Mashkinonje's beauty remains over the decades.
Every year the area experiences a hoar frost. It occurs first thing in the
morning on a clear winter's day. One can notice a cloud in the west at
ground level. The cloud moves eastward, enveloping the landscape. As it
approaches, the area darkens; everything is in this cloud on earth. When
the water droplets in the cloud touch a cold surface like a tree, they
crystallize and the tree gets frosted. After the cloud passes, Mashkinonje
is a beautiful winter wonderland with a bright blue sky. You have to be
here in the winter to experience Mashkinonje dressed in its frosty
In the cold month of January, there were many sundogs. Next winter I will
try to get photos and tell you about this phenomenon. Watch for the
partial rainbows around the sun.
There has been a lot of action along the Peatland Trail this winter. This
is the first trail we plan to create and a lot of thought and planning has
gone into it. On completion, the first portion will be
wheelchair-accessible with less than a 12% slope at any point. Ontario
Parks planners, architects and surveyors along with our superintendent,
Chuck Miller and his wife, Karen, worked the area, after Harley Lang and
Dr. Peter Beckett marked it, to find the best route for this trail. The
trail now has a rainbow of markers to follow across a wetland and to three
lookout points over a beaver pond and the Peatlands. It will be easy to
follow this year until the spring melt when the crossings get a little
Several of us were lucky enough to spot a Black-backed Woodpecker in a
dead tree along one of the wetlands. You hear the tap-tap and watch and
wait. Before too long, she comes into view. This woodpecker was all black
on the back and had no yellow on the back of its head. The Black-backed
Woodpeckers are not common. They like to inhabit burnt-out areas. These
days, forest fires are extinguished quickly, reducing the Black-backed
Woodpecker's favourite habitat. This is the second time Black-backed
Woodpeckers have been observed in the park; the other time was in the
winter on the Martin Pond Trail. Once the trails are constructed, it will
be easier to travel to these areas and learn more about the avian
inhabitants of Mashkinonje.
Mashkinonje-North Monetville Christmas Bird Count
The Friends held our second Christmas Bird Count (CBC) on January 3rd. We
had more time to get organized this year. In December, Dick Tafel,
President of the Nipissing Naturalists, and Cal Osborne gave a "Birds of
Winter" seminar in the Monetville Community Centre. They wanted to help
people learn what winter birds to watch for and encourage the fun hobby of
The CBC is centered in the Mashkinonje area and has a 15-mile diameter,
taking in North Monetville, Lavigne, and parts of St. Charles. So we
divided the region for feeder watchers and set up co-ordinators to
accumulate the regions' data. We would like to thank Carmelle Girouard -
Lavigne North, Lorraine Courchesne - Lavigne South and Ev Eisenhour for
North Monetville. They have already volunteered to help us next year.
Chris Bell from the Sudbury Ornithological Society celebrated his 100th
CBC at Mashkinonje. Chris participates in 5 or so CBC's each year. So we
had a party for him. I created a Ruffed- Grouse-in-a-pine-tree cake and
the Friends gave him a Mashkinonje hat for his dedication to ornithology.
I didn't know how the cake would turn out, but everyone was able to
identify the bird and it disappeared by the end of the evening.
This year we had 38 feeder watchers and 15 field observers who identified
27 species and 2,512 individuals. The results have been posted to the
Friends website: www.nipissing.com\mashkinonje
What I have found with bird watching is, people enjoy watching birds and
sharing their sightings. It is a great way to join people. After the CBC,
there were many requests to hold a summertime bird count. We will contact
you over the next few months when the Friends organize a summer bird
count. To further knowledge of bird watchers, the Friends will start
selling some of the better bird guides. A pair of binoculars is also an
asset in helping you to identify our feathered friends. We will also try
to organize more bird identification seminars.
Whenever an area is to be excavated in a provincial park, great care has
to be taken not to disturb habitat of endangered or threatened species or
artifacts from our past. Mashkinonje is no exception to the rule, so
before access points and trails are developed, we have to investigate. In
the fall, the Friends, along with Dr. David Slattery of Horizon
Archaeology, conducted archaeological digs. The digs turned out to be
educational, fruitful, and fun. The Friends would like to thank all the
budding archaeologists who came out to help. The first site has now been
designated an historical zone. The protection of artifacts is regulated
under Ontario Parks and the Ministry of Culture.
A second site has been chosen as an access point.
A provincial park is an area of protection. We are allowed to walk through
it, enjoy it, and come out with good memories and wonderful pictures. The
Friends will produce a map and code of ethics for the park as soon as we
We have been very fortunate in our picnic days, blue skies and warm
temperatures. We had to downsize our picnic this year and exclude the
general public and move the site to Welcome Lodge because insurance was
not available at the previous location.
The picnic began with the Friends of Mashkinonje Annual General Meeting
and election of Board of Directors. With the business out of the way, we
ate lunch, checking out the silent auction items while enjoying the view
of the Mashkinonje north shore and the West Arm.
After lunch Ted Price wanted to hike into the north portion of the park
and everyone else agreed. Dr. Peter Beckett and I led the hike. There is
always so much to see and learn on a nature walk, it is hard to take it
all in. Peter's enthusiasm got us paying more attention to wetland plants.
Our destination was Martin Pond, one of the park's many beaver ponds. At
the northwest end there is a long smooth rock - a great spot to sit and
enjoy the panorama. Peter doesn't sit much, and, before we knew it, he was
investigating the plants along the water's edge and the lichens on the
rock. Peter found all three types of water lilies: Fragrant Water Lily
(white), Yellow Pond Lily, and Wild Calla.
|WELCOME NEW FRIENDS Dr. Chantalle Wilson,
Dr. David Slattery, Pauline Yorke, Bob & RaeAnne Timony, Diane
Bourdon, and Carmelle & Gaetan Girouard.
The Friends would like to thank their many generous
|Moose Bog ($500)
Harley & Liz Lang
Collins Barrow Maheu Noiseux, Chartered Accountants
Cottongrass Fen ($250)
Random House Publishing
Tamarac Swamp ($100)
Dan Busch and Cendrine Gemberling
Muskrat Marsh ($50)
Peter and Jane Gregersen
David and Beth Schnurr
Don Williams and Karen Dick
|Beaver Pond (Volunteers)
Dr Peter Beckett
Suzanne St Georges
Micky & Karen Sandula
Rusty & Brenda VanExan
Bob & Nicole Wilson
Ray & Bev Kingdon
Due North Marketing
|What is it?
Our last Wetlands Observer posed a question regarding a photo.
Answer: it is an aerial photo of the Samoset Rookery
Contact Us . . .
We hope you have enjoyed this newsletter!
Previous newsletters can be viewed on our website
Friends of Mashkinonje
Site 8, Box 1,
99 Lang's Landing
Monetville, ON, P0M 2K0
Upcoming Events Check our website for the following events:
Earth Month Canoe-May 8, Summer Bird Count-July 11, picnic-August 22
For anyone who wishes to know more about the world that surrounds us, the
Mashkinonje Provincial Park is a great place and will remain that way for
decades to come. Protecting this area in its natural state is our goal.
Your continued support will help us share our wonderful wilderness.