Friends of Mashkinonje Provincial Park
THE  WETLANDS  OBSERVER


Volume 4 - Issue 1

March 2004


2004 is YEAR OF THE WETLAND

Lookout Pond

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 guests.
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.

Hoar Frost

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 splendor.
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.

Peatland Trail

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 wet!!!
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 bird watching.
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.

Archaeology

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 are able.

Picnic

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 supporters.

Moose Bog ($500)
Harley & Liz Lang
Welcome Lodge
Collins Barrow Maheu Noiseux, Chartered Accountants

Cottongrass Fen ($250)
Saenchiur Flechey
Random House Publishing
Diane Bourdon

Tamarac Swamp ($100)
Dan Busch and Cendrine Gemberling
Chuck Miller
Lakair Lodge

Muskrat Marsh ($50)
Canadian Geographic
Peter and Jane Gregersen
David and Beth Schnurr
Don Williams and Karen Dick
Bob Wilson
Beaver Pond (Volunteers)
Dr Peter Beckett
Jean Aubertin
Jamie Restoule
Dave Martin
Chris Martin
Suzanne St Georges
Vanessa Silvestre
Chantelle Wilson
Carmelle Girouard
Lorraine Courchesne
Evelyn Eisenhaur
Micky & Karen Sandula
Rusty & Brenda VanExan
Bob & Nicole Wilson
Ray & Bev Kingdon
Nathalie LeClaire
Stephen Romaniuk
Audrey Harney
Joan Vokes
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
www.nipissing.com\mashkinonje 

Friends of Mashkinonje
Site 8, Box 1,
99 Lang's Landing
Monetville, ON, P0M 2K0

Email: mashkinonje@on.aibn.com
FOM DIRECTORS
Angela Martin
President
Daničle Lemieux
Vice President
Liz Lang
Sec/Treas
Ted Zeitz
Izettia Zeitz
Bob Wilson
Chuck Miller
Friends/Ontario Park
Superintendent
Parks Liaison
Killarney, Ontario
 

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.