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eastern region (ontario)

VOLUME 30, NUMBER 4, 2009

Rondeau Bay on the rebound

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Rondeau Bay is located on Lake Erie’s north shore, 65 kilometres east of Point Pelee National Park and 130 kilometres west of Long Point Provincial Park. The 12,343-hectare watershed is a continentally significant migratory waterfowl staging area and contains provincially significant coastal wetlands, making it a high priority for Ducks Unlimited Canada. The area’s fertile soils and moderate climate are ideal for farming. Historically, traditional cash crops including tobacco and vegetables, along with hog production, have been integral to the local community’s economy. However, long-term, extensive agricultural practices have resulted in high nutrient loads in the area. These excessive nutrient levels stimulate the growth of exotic and invasive aquatic plants that overpower native species. Heavy nutrient loads also foster algal blooms which can have negative impacts on local fish populations. To help reduce this trend, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources’ (OMNR) Lake Erie Management Unit (LEMU) is leading a 10-year program to restore the Rondeau Bay ecosystem for the benefit of both wildlife and humans. The program is based on recommendations arising from a research paper entitled “Restoring the Ecological Integrity of Rondeau Bay” by Dr. Janice Gilbert, a wetland ecologist with OMNR. In its third year, the program relies heavily on the voluntary participation of landowners and other members of the community to achieve its goals. DUC has contributed to two Rondeau Bay projects through the Ontario Wetland Care Program and continues to provide wetland expertise and other resources to the program. There is strong interest and momentum building among local landowners and organizations to restore wetlands in the area. Greg Dunn, the project ecologist, estimates that 25 to 30 per cent of Rondeau Bay landowners have expressed interest in participating. The next steps in the 10-year program include continuing to create awareness among the community, partners and regulators, and finding other sources of funding. While LEMU’s focus is on improving water quality in the bay, the results of this work will restore habitats for a variety of species including ducks. Partners along with OMNR include Stewardship Kent, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Municipality of Chatham-Kent, Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority, Ministry of the Environment and Environment Canada. S


Two organizations are better than one

Ministry of Natural Resources Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) Rosalyn Lawrence toured Matchedash Bay with DUC staff in early September to learn more about DUC-Ontario operations and projects. From left: Julie Cayley (government relations manager, DUC-Ontario), David Au (executive assistant to ADM Lawrence, MNR), Carol Pauker (senior policy adviser, MNR), Rosalyn Lawrence (Assistant Deputy Minister, MNR), Mark Shorman (district manager, Midhurst, MNR), Raffaella Mooney (senior lands technician, Midhurst, MNR), Jim Brennan (provincial manager, DUC-Ontario).

Landowners support wetland conservation in the moraine

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Southern Ontario’s Oak Ridges Moraine (ORM) stretches 160 kilometres from the Trent River to the Niagara Escarpment. It is one of Canada’s most populous regions where 90 per cent of land is privately owned. Habitat for humans and wildlife is at a premium. In 2002, the ORM Foundation was created to provide support and encouragement for activities that preserve, protect and restore the environmental integrity of the ORM and to support trail development. In 2005 Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) received a grant from the ORM Foundation to host educational workshops for hundreds of ORM landowners on the importance of wetland conservation. The workshops inspired five wetland restoration and enhancement projects on 138 hectares of private lands. In May 2007, the ORM Foundation approved DUC’s next phase proposal to identify properties with high priority wetlands in need of conservation actions. The goal was to complete 15 new wetland enhancement and restoration projects and to conserve 60 hectares by March 31, 2009. The best sites for conservation actions were determined by talking with landowners and using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to interpret air photo data. Using various wetland restoration techniques, including ditch plug restoration, dike construction, small pond creation and wood duck nest box installations, DUC worked with landowners and government agencies to implement the program. In the end, expectations were exceeded – 15 wetland restoration segments totalling 162 hectares were completed at a cost of $87,400. DUC will continue to develop partnerships with other conservation agencies and landowners to restore wetlands both for the welfare of wetland-dependent wildlife and for the quality of life of its growing human population. If the results of this program are an indication, there is strong ORM landowner interest in wetland conservation. S

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The Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA) is one of 36 Conservation Authorities in Ontario that conserve, restore and manage natural resources on a watershed basis. This work is done in partnership with local municipalities, government agencies, landowners and other special interest groups. The RVCA’s watershed management mandate makes it a logical partner for Ducks Unlimited Canada’s (DUC) wetland conservation efforts. In 2008 and 2009, DUC worked with RVCA and local landowners to complete five wetland buffer projects within the Rideau watershed, most of which are close to the Rideau Lakes. These wetland buffers provide upland habitat and travel corridors between wetland and upland areas for waterfowl and other wildlife species. The buffers also serve as filters to decrease nutrient run-off into the wetland area. But by far the most important element of this partnership for DUC is that each of the landowners has entered into an agreement with DUC to ensure the wetland remains a valued and protected feature on their property. “The partnership with DUC has reinforced the teamwork needed to conserve wetland habitat – our site visits are now done with an eye out for possible DUC involvement,” says Dan Cooper, private land forestry program manager with RVCA. The partnership has been a tremendous success. Not only do RVCA and DUC achieve their goals, but landowners also benefit with the knowledge that multi-organizational expertise is helping guide their land-use planning decisions. S Dan Cooper, private land forestry program manager with RVCA, poses at a buffer-planting project.


eastern region (ontario)

What’s in it for Ducks?

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Since the late 1990s, Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) has been focusing conservation efforts on programs that increase the number of waterfowl breeding pairs. This has largely involved the restoration of temporary and seasonal wetlands. Typically, small wetland restoration involves one of two possible techniques – impoundment or excavation. Impoundments restore small basins that have been drained or degraded by agricultural activities such as ditching and tile drains. The ditch outlets and tile drains are plugged with short earthen berms and small water-control structures are installed. Excavation is undertaken in areas where impoundment is not feasible and is typically used to restore wetlands that have been choked by dense vegetation or filled with sediment from run-off. The choice of technique depends on site topography, engineering and biological factors, government regulations and landowner participation. To ensure that DUC was spending its resources wisely, a study was launched in 1991 to investigate waterfowl use and aquatic plant growth at sites where impoundment or excavation has been used. The study then compared these to existing productive wetlands that did not require restoration. Preliminary surveys showed that the excavated sites took much longer to naturalize after restoration than the impoundment sites: at least three years is required before the excavated sites resembled productive wetlands. This delay meant that an accurate comparison of waterfowl use could not immediately be made. Researchers waited for the excavated sites to mature and in 2007 a three-year adaptive management study began. A total of 62 wetlands representing approximately equal proportions of the two techniques and unmanaged control wetlands were selected on two landscapes.

Each year three separate breeding pair surveys were conducted on each wetland during April and May. The surveys involved a person slowly walking through each wetland and recording bird species and numbers. All breeding waterfowl species, including Canada geese, were counted. The surveys were timed to capture a variety of species including late-nesting species such as blue-winged teal. The final pair surveys were completed this spring and the data from the three years is being analyzed. Preliminary results are encouraging. Both impoundment and excavation approaches to wetland restoration have similar numbers of waterfowl breeding pairs which are higher than the unmanaged central wetlands. This is strong evidence that DUC wetland restoration efforts are working. Additionally, it indicates that DUC should continue to consider the use of both restoration treatments in their efforts to effectively restore wetland habitat. The next steps include investigating the comparative costs associated with each of the techniques. The results from this study will help inform and direct future DUC conservation programs. S Table 1. Estimated Waterfowl Breeding Pairs by Wetland Treatment Treatment

Average Annual Waterfowl Breeding Pairs per Pond

Control

0.30

Excavated

0.58

Impoundment

0.55

Marvin Betz honoured with the Golden Teal Award

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Stouffville resident and longtime Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) champion Marvin Betz was recently presented with DUC’s Golden Teal Award. The award recognizes individuals, corporations and organizations that make lifetime in-kind contributions to DUC totalling $100,000 or more. The award presentation took place at the Uxbridge Shooting Sports Club on July 15, 2009, in the company of DUC friends and colleagues. In addition to operating the award-winning company Betz Pools, Betz is an avid waterfowl hunter and a well-known DUC volunteer. He helped found the Markham Sponsor Dinner and is currently serving as its chairman. Betz has also held several other volunteer positions on various DUC dinner committees for the past 22 years. His generous commitment of time, merchandise and cash donations over the years have helped bring DUC closer to achieving its conservation goals. This is great news for both wetlands and Canadians. Thank you, Marvin Betz! S Ducks Unlimited Canada’s Aaron Everingham (left) presents longtime DUC volunteer Marvin Betz with the prestigious Golden Teal Award.


Project Webfoot

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Project Webfoot began in 1998 as a Ducks Unlimited Canada wetland education program to teach Grade 4 students about the important role that wetlands play in maintaining a healthy environment. In-class materials introduce the students to wetland ecosystems, followed by a guided tour of a local wetland. The program has provided the opportunity for thousands of schoolchildren in Toronto, Ottawa and London to learn about and experience wetlands first-hand. Our experience has shown that students participating in Project Webfoot become more passionate about their surrounding environment while gaining outdoor skills, building self-confidence and developing a greater appreciation for wetlands and wildlife. Project Webfoot is expanding to Brantford, Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo classrooms thanks to the generous support of donors such as SC Johnson and Son Ltd. Royal Ashburn Golf Tournament for Conservation Supports Project Webfoot The Royal Ashburn Golf Club located in Durham County not far from Toronto is considered one of Canada’s premier courses. When the Royal Ashburn partnered with Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) to help raise funds for Project Webfoot by hosting its first annual Golf Tournament for Conservation on Sept. 29, 2009, DUC partners were thrilled. The tournament, a first for DUC and for the Royal Ashburn, invited participants to sponsor a Project Webfoot class in the Greater Toronto Area. As this issue of Flyway was being written, $47,000 was raised, so 47 classes now have the opportunity to learn about and visit a local wetland. This new initiative by the Royal Ashburn, along with previous wetland conservation programs at their course, shows the passion the Paterson family, owners of Royal Ashburn, have for nature and the outdoors. Most recently, Wilson Paterson became a Ducks Unlimited Canada member in perpetuity. SC Johnson and Son Ltd. – Project Webfoot Supporters – Two Years, 100 Classes SC Johnson and Son Ltd. is a family company based in Brantford, Ont., with a strong interest in sustaining and protecting the environment. Five generations have created cleaning products for over 120 years with 12,000 employees currently spanning 70 countries. Their business philosophy is simple: they are committed to being a good neighbour wherever they do business. Realizing that children are the foundation of any community, SC Johnson and Son Ltd. recently pledged $60,000 to support 100 Project Webfoot classes in the Brantford area for the 2009-2011 school years. Thanks to SC Johnson and Son Ltd., hundreds more children will now have the chance to learn about the dynamics of wetland ecosystems and to visit a wetland in their community. DUC extends its gratitude to both SC Johnson and Son Ltd. and the Royal Ashburn Golf Club. If not for the interest and support of community-minded businesses such as these, many of our children and grandchildren would not grow up with the basic knowledge needed to understand the importance of wetlands to both people and wildlife. S

eastern Region (ontario)

The Flyway newsletter is published by Ducks Unlimited Canada Oak Hammock Marsh Conservation Centre P.O. Box 1160, Stonewall, Manitoba R0C 2Z0 tel (204)467-3000 fax (204)467-9028 toll-free 1(800)665-DUCK Please direct your inquiries to the following: Eastern Region Atlantic: Kelly MacDonald Quebec: Bernard Filion Ontario: Lynette Mader Western Region Prairie-Western Boreal: Marci Dube British Columbia: Wendy Thatcher Flyway production staff Director of Communications and Marketing: Madeleine Arbez Editor: Duncan Morrison Assistant: Deb Menard Art Director: Tye Gregg Graphic Designers: Lindsay Pikta-Marie, Aquila Samson, Jeope Wolfe © Ducks Unlimited Canada, 2009 Printed in Canada on 100% recycled paper including 100% post-consumer fibres

Ontario Area Contacts Director of Regional Operations Eastern Canada, Jamie Fortune (613) 565-2525 Manager of Provincial Operations Jim Brennan (705) 721-4444 Science and Planning Owen Steele

(705) 721-4444

Landowner Programs Lynette Mader

(705) 721-4444

Education Program Coordinator Stephanie Walker (705) 721-4444

Field trips to local wetlands are one of the best parts of Project Webfoot – a DUC-led program that educates Ontario Grade 4 students about the importance and fun of wetlands. The field trips are made possible through the generosity of partners such as the Royal Ashburn Golf Club and SC Johnson and Son Ltd.

Government Relations Julie Cayley

(705) 721-4444

Fundraising Development Aaron Everingham James D. Lee

(705) 738-9929 (647) 345-3223

Provincial Manager of Event & Volunteer Programs Steve Stinkowji (705) 544-8437 Event & Volunteer Customer Service (613) 389-0418 (866) 389-0418 publication agreement #40064849

flyways-ontario-2009-30-04  

A Ducks Unlimited Canada newsletter featuring conservation stories from across Ontario

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