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Biosphere News V O L U M E

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State of the Bay Program Launched!


Shoreline Gardening


State of the Bay


Species at Risk


Life on the Bay


New GBBR Team Members


Dragon Boat Festival


Water Festival & Kayak Trip


Kids Can Grow


Taking your Class Outside


Printed on recycled materials

From left: MPP Norm Miller, Kay Todd, Greg Mason, Becky Pollock, Lynda Marshall, and David Bywater Photo Courtesy of: Cottage Country Now (Charlene Peck)

Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve hosted local MPP for Parry Sound – Muskoka, Norm Miller, to help launch an environmental report card program made possible with support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Over the next two years, the GBBR and its partner organizations will research environmental health and produce a “State of the Bay” report.

The State of the Bay Report Card program will measure, collect, and recommend ways to minimize and manage the impact of ongoing stressors to this unique area and help to address the concerns that affect the Bay‟s future. Congratulations to GBBR and its partners on receiving this generous grant to do this vital work.”

The report card will provide an overview of the health of eastern Georgian Bay based on wetland, water quality, and indicators such as forest health. It will evaluate current conditions and the main threats to the coast and inland lakes. The report will also be designed to track changes over time.

Greg Mason, General Manager of the GBBR explains: "UNESCO world biosphere reserves are meant to protect biodiversity in globally unique ecosystems, such as the 30,000 Islands, “But what few people realize is that it is also meant to be a model of sustainable development. Our overall goal for this region is to link the environment and the With recently announced funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the GBBR will use the $70,700 to economy to ensure healthy communities in all aspects - ecological, social, cultural, and economic. conduct background research, establish scientific health indicators, consult with experts, and produce a The report card will give communities a useful benchmark of ecosystem health of what should be report that can be distributed to residents, maintained alongside their development plans.” municipalities, cottagers and visitors. “The Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve represents a natural ecosystem with important ecological values,” said MPP Norm Miller. “It is imperative that we develop a creative, sustainable working relationship between humans and nature.

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Biosphere News


Grant Allows for Shoreline Gardening at William Street Park

Growing wild in William Street Park. Katelynn Veenstra, 11, left, Cheryl Powless, 11, and Tapenga Veenstra, 9, dig a hole for the next plant. Photo Courtesy of: Cottage Country Now (Cody Storm-Cooper)

Parry Sound 4-H Club and Parry Sound Horticultural Society member Anne Bossart dug in on the first really hot day of summer to plant a demonstration buffer strip along the Seguin River. A buffer strip is an area of natural vegetation that runs along the shore. Shoreline buffers, as little as three metres wide, can improve wildlife habitat and help preserve water quality. This project was made possible through the Walmart – Evergreen Green Grant Program. The 4-H Club also donated several trees to the site and wood chips were donated by the local Hydro One forestry crew. More than 80 native plants such as sweet gale, serviceberry, and blue flag iris were planted by our hard-working volunteers. Native plants are preferred since they will thrive with minimal care and maintenance. The plants were purchased from local businesses. The roots of these plants will help to protect the shoreline from erosion and improve water quality by slowing run-off and filtering pollutants. The native plants will provide food for a variety of wildlife species including monarch butterflies and many songbirds. Taller shrubs can also help deter Canada Geese from feeding on the lawn since they prefer a clear pathway to the water. A sign will be added later in the summer to provide information on the benefits of planting native species along our waterways. As residents of the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve, there are many things we can do to help take care of our shorelines. The Life on the Bay Stewardship Manual, produced by the GBBR, covers a range of topics including how to live with wildlife, how to use landscaping to improve water quality, and best practices during construction. The guide was designed to be used by waterfront property owners on both Georgian Bay and inland lakes. Digital copies of the guide are available on our web site (under the Conservation tab). With funding through Environment Canadaâ€&#x;s Eco-Action program, we are offeruing stewardship workshops in your neighbourhood this summer. If you are interested in hosting a stewardship workshop, please contact the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve at: 705.774.0978, or email


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State of the Bay Program Launched! -continued.. Continued from page one.. Recognizing that this type of program requires cooperation among agencies, GBBR is working closely with the Eastern Georgian Bay Stewardship Council, the Georgian Bay Association, Georgian Bay Forever, and the Georgian Bay Land Trust. Collectively known as the “GB5”, these organizations collaborate on projects with common concerns about the welfare of eastern Georgian Bay.

Who is David Bywater?

While the overall health of Georgian Bay is thought to be in relatively good condition, when compared to other Great Lakes, it is under significant stress from climate change, invasive species, consistently low water levels, development pressures and boating impacts, among others. How we manage human activity on the bay will have a long-term impact on the overall health of the water we all enjoy. Eastern Georgian Bay Stewardship Council Coordinator, Eric McIntyre states “The Stewardship Council wholly supports this objective as an essential ingredient to influence government policies and management strategies to improve the ecological health of eastern Georgian Bay.” David Bywater has been hired to coordinate the program. "The Georgian Bay landscape is an iconic image and its features are valued by residents and cottagers alike. My job is to summarize the many studies that exist for the coast into one document. But equally important, we will be able to identify further research gaps and monitoring needs and recommend specific actions for protecting and restoring any areas of concern. For these reasons I think that the State of the Bay report will be a valuable tool that will allow people to know how their Bay is doing and what is needed to maintain and/or improve its condition. We truly appreciate the support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation in getting the program started for our area." The project is also receiving guidance from Judi Brouse, Director of Watershed Programs for the Muskoka Watershed Council. The Council has produced their own “Watershed Report Card” for the District of Muskoka every three years since 2004.

David and his son Fynn in Petra, Jordan.

David and his family have recently returned to the Parry Sound region after spending five years living and working overseas in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. During his time abroad, David worked as a Senior Environmental Scientist with engineering and environmental consulting companies performing environmental impact assessments and other environmental studies. The highlight of their time overseas was returning home (slightly ironic, eh?), when they packed up their little Honda Fit and drove from the UAE to the UK. Since they were without any commitments (besides their almost two year old son), they took their time and spent around 100 days on the road, travelling through 24 countries and covering 21,000 kms. Prior to moving overseas, David and his wife, Meg, lived in Rosseau. For a couple of seasons David worked at White Squall, where he was taught not only how to kayak, but also about the beauty of the Bay. And so given the chance to return to Georgian Bay country, they happily jumped at the opportunity and they‟ve come full circle and have purchased a home south of Parry Sound in Foley.

“Water defines Georgian Bay‟s geography, biology and cultural heritage,” says Brouse. “Our connection to the natural beauty of the land and waterways is very strong. It not only enhances our quality of life, but is the primary element driving our local economy. A strong and healthy environment and watershed are fundamental to sustaining our communities.”

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Species at Risk A Tale of Two Birds Growing up on a farm in eastern Ontario, I have fond memories of hearing the bubbling call of Barn Swallows each time I entered the barns in late spring. They nested in well-crafted mud nests on the rafters and door frames. The swallows flew swiftly above the fields and water, catching a variety of insects in their wide bills. The clear, musical whistle of Eastern Meadowlarks was also a familiar and welcome sign of spring throughout the area‟s hayfields and pastures. The conspicuous meadowlarks would sing loudly their “spring of the year” call from fence posts or electrical lines. When the Barn Swallows gathered in large numbers on the electrical lines, we knew it was a sign that summer was coming to an end. The swallows would migrate in large flocks of up to 2000 birds to South America. These once common species have declined steadily in Ontario over the past 30 or 40 years, and particularly rapidly over the past decade. At the spring meeting of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) a Threatened status has been recommended for both the Barn Swallow and Eastern Meadowlark. Concern for declining Barn Swallow populations is not limited to North America. Birds in Europe, a study of the conservation status of European birds, puts Barn Swallows in their "losers" category. Eastern Meadowlarks have declined by 73 percent throughout eastern North America. There are now 15 bird species at risk in our area. Please take some time to learn about the others on our web site and report your sightings of these birds.

Barn Swallows are easily recognized by their long forked tails. Their back and head are deep blue which contrasts with an orange-buff breast and belly. They have auburn throats and forehead patches. Photo Courtesy of: (left) Angela Mills & (right) Gord Darlington


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The robin-sized Eastern Meadowlark has a bold black "V" in the middle of its bright yellow breast. Their backs are dabbled brown with flecks of yellow, white and black. Photo Courtesy of: Tom Hince

You Can Help Protect Our Water Quality There are many things we easily can do to help protect our water quality and support healthy shorelines. Here are a few suggestions to try at your home or cottage. Go Natural  Protect wildlife habitat in our communities by minimizing changes to the natural landscape. Choose native plants to help filter the water that runs off your house or driveway towards waterways or storm drains. This helps protect fish habitat and other aquatic life. 

If you must build a dock, consider using a small floating dock. Locate docks and other structures carefully to reduce their environmental impact. Always contact your local municipality to determine if you require a permit.

Franklin Island– Photo Courtesy of: Glenda Clayton

Mind your Wastes  Handle gas, oil and other chemicals carefully. Don‟t dump chemicals into a toilet or drain. Ensure all hazardous materials are disposed at an approved waste centre. Return unused pharmaceuticals to a pharmacy. Find the nearest electronics disposal location to divert heavy metals from old computer s and other machines.  

Have your septic system maintained regularly.

Don‟t use old railway ties or pressure treated lumber in your landscaping.

Switch to natural cleaners and use only phosphate-free detergents.

Pick up after your pets.

Row Your Boat  Canoes, kayaks and row boats are non-polluting and good exercise too! If you need a power boat consider purchasing an efficient four-stroke or E-Tec engine. Be aware of your wake near the shore. Power boats can produce a wake which disturbs species that nest close to the water. Leave No Trace  Summer picnics and camping are great ways to enjoy the Bay. Always pack out your garbage and dispose of soapy dishwater in soil at least 50 metres from the water's edge. Remember, no washing in the water even if your soap is biodegradable. To learn more about what you can do on your shoreline property check out the Life on the Bay Stewardship Guide which is available for download at The GBBR also offers Stewardship Workshops for waterfront property owners. Please contact the GBBR if you would like to host a stewardship workshop for your area. The Life on the Bay Stewardship Program was undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through the Department of the Environment.

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GBBR Welcomes New Members to our Team! GBBR‟s International Intern The Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve is being supported by a new intern from Germany. Robin Marwege has just recently finished his third master‟s semester at the University of Applied Science in Eberswalde, near the capital of Berlin. But how did a German find the Biosphere Reserve on eastern Georgian Bay and why would he bother travelling 6,500 km to another continent? “Of course the stunning beauty of the 30,000 islands is one reason, the various projects done by the Biosphere management are another. I want to learn more about environmental education in Biosphere Reserves to prepare for the last step of my study program, my master‟s thesis.” He found out about GBBR through a professor‟s recommendations, GBBR‟s webpage, and encouragement from GBBR staff. Because of the Bay‟s natural significance, but also because of its culture, the whole area of eastern Georgian Bay was acknowledged as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO (United Nations Environmental, Scientific and Cultural Organization). Since 2004, it has been part of the World Biosphere Network, which now has over 560 sites. This is one of the Robin Marwege GBBR’s International Intern reasons why Robin decided to spend spring and summer in Parry Sound: “I agree with UNESCO that we need model regions in which natural richness and human activity are sustainably combined – that„s what Biosphere Reserves are about, in my opinion”. His internship and journey to Canada are funded by the German Academic Study Foundation. This funding supports a Master‟s degree in “Regional Development and Nature Conservation” with a focus on Environmental Education. The content of the study program matches the vision of GBBR to protect and enhance the natural and cultural resources of Eastern Georgian Bay through environmental stewardship, community education and sustainable development activities. Robin says that he is glad to enrich his studies with these experiences. “With the work plan tailored to my interests, I can strengthen my skills in environmental education, environmental communication – such as media work or other more creative forms of communication, and of course, outdoor activities.”

“ I agree with UNESCO that we need model regions in which natural richness and human activity are sustainably combined – that„s what Biosphere Reserves are about.”


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Marketing and Communications Coordinator The Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve has been joined by a new intern filling the position of Marketing and Communications Coordinator. Brittany Mahnke graduated from Canadore College‟s Business Administration program in May 2011, when she received the Program Excellence Award for being top of her graduating class. Branding the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve is on Brittany‟s list of goals under the one year internship. “Creating a recognizable brand is a top priority. I want to create a brand that businesses in our community want to use for promotional and educational purposes. I believe that people need a better understanding of what a Biosphere Reserve is, and how lucky we are to be part of one.” Brittany will use her marketing background to develop and implement a marketing plan for GBBR over the next year of her NOHFC internship. From Parry Sound, Ontario Brittany is happy to be able to work in her hometown. Brittany enjoys various activities on Georgian Bay and spending time at her cottage Isabelle Island. Brittany Mahnke GBBR’s Marketing and Communications Coordinator

Wetlands Assistant The Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve welcomes Angela Mills filling the position of Wetlands Assistant. Angela is studying Geography at the University of Waterloo, and her final co-op term is working with us at GBBR. Angela‟s work will be incorporated into David Bywater‟s “State of the Bay Report.” Originally from Caledon, Ontario, she has grown up spending time at her cottage in the Parry Sound area, and this, in addition to being very involved with Girl Guides of Canada, has led to a great love of the outdoors. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, kayaking and taking pictures of nature. Angela Mills GBBR’s Wetlands Assistant

Bumper stickers are available, please contact GBBR’s office at 705 774 0978

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Dragon Boat Festival The Biosphere Boat was entered into the 10th Annual Dragon Boat Festival on June 18, 2011. GBBR partnered with the Parry Sound Museum and Community Living Parry Sound in order to raise awareness of our joint initiatives in Youth Education Programs and the Parry Sound Community Garden. The Lessons-In-A-Backpack program has had over 750 contacts with elementary and secondary students in the past two years. Water Festivals have been held for 120 kids each year, and various March break and P.D. Day programs had been offered as part of GBBR‟s education programming. The Parry Sound Community Garden initiative, on Waubeek Street in Parry Sound, has a 14 plot garden (including two wheelchair accessible raised beds), construction of a shed and tools, and donates 20 percent of all grown produce to local food banks. The Biosphere Boat raised $1,085.00 for Youth Education Programs and $928.00 for the Parry Sound Community Garden. Thank you to all of our paddlers in their hard work collecting pledges! Team Biosphere Boat won the “Team Pledge Champions” trophy for collecting the most in pledges of all the competing teams! The trophy will be housed across from Pledge Captain Brittany Mahnke‟s desk. She says “This was GBBR‟s first year entering into the Dragon Boat Festival and the day was a complete success. I am proud of every member of our team– remember to keep your heads up paddlers!” The Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve would like to especially thank our five special sponsors who made our participation a success: Bearly Used Books, Demasdon‟s Boatworks, FAD Architects, Island Queen Cruise, and White Squall.

How the Biosphere Boat placed: Round 1

Time: 2.43

Place: 2nd

Round 2

Time: 2.46

Place: 2nd

Round 3

Time: 2.44

Place: 3rd

Thank you to our Dragon Boat sponsors!

Bearly Used Books– Parry Sound


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Water-wise Students Are you water-wise or water wasteful? Parry Sound area students are more water savvy after attending the Georgian Bay Water Festival. This festival was held on May 20 th on the beautiful shores of Killbear Provincial Park and over 90 elementary students from three area schools attended. The festival brings students together to spend a fun day learning about water ecology and conservation. Students, and their teachers, also learn about the actions they can take at home and at school to conserve water and help protect water quality. Parry Sound High School volunteers are key to this successful event; some are activity leaders while others help guide the groups to their stations. These student leaders also learn about water issues as they prepare to guide the activities. All the activities are hands on, educational, fun and designed to meet the Ontario school curriculum. Each activity is designed around a specific water conservation and protection message. For example, at the station “No Water Off a Duck‟s Back”, the students learned about the 1950 oil spill in Parry Sound Harbour. They examined tar “blobs” mixed with sand collected from local beaches. In small groups, they observed feathers and discovered the challenge to clean oil from birds. This helps the students understand the hazards of large oil spills and how oil can also reach our waterways from household sources and storm run-off. The Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve staff are appreciative of the support from Parry Sound High School and Killbear Provincial Park staff. Special thanks to Nancy Regan (PSHS teacher) and Amy Hutchinson (PSHS student) who coordinated all the high school volunteers and helped develop a manual to guide future water festivals for our area.

Photo courtesy of: Robin Marwege

Water-wise Tip Check how much your family uses and compare to the Canadian average. Go to the web site for a quick one minute calculation chart. Then challenge your family to become below average!

Have you seen this paddler? Robin Marwege, our intern from Germany, is planning a kayak trip along the entire 200 km length of the Biosphere Reserve, from the French River to Port Severn, over the first 12 days of August. The kayak trip will help to raise awareness of the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve through Robin‟s contacts, conversations, and presentations along the way. He plans to conduct an informal survey by talking to residents about what they know of the biosphere reserve, and what concerns and interests they have. The kayak campaign is proudly sponsored by:

Photo courtesy of: Christine Utas

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Parry Sound Grows Green

The Biosphere Action Group (BAG) is comprised of volunteers committed to providing opportunities to anyone wishing to gain skills in self-sufficiency and more sustainable living.

Photo courtesy of: Robin Marwege

The Biosphere Action Group (BAG) is pleased to offer our popular “Grow Your Own Grub” workshops for area residents again this year. The workshops are designed for newcomers and advanced gardeners at varying levels of experience who are interested in lifelong learning and sharing ideas. These workshops help provide people with skills, encouragement and support to grow at least some of their own food.

Appropriately, the first session of the year focused on how to start seedlings. This popular workshop was led by Gloria Marshall, a volunteer with the Parry Sound and District Horticultural Society. Over thirty people learned about what seeds to start in our area and techniques for giving these seeds the best start. People left with trays of seeds ready to be placed in a sunny location. The “Growing Chickens in Bear Country” workshop was offered again this spring by the “chicken ladies” Joy Allen, Wave Weir and Kathy Dyer. This well-attended workshop covered all aspects of raising birds for eggs or meat from where to purchase birds, coop designs, storing eggs and even how to hypnotize a chicken! BAG recognizes the importance of helping youth connect with gardening. This spring, a full day “Kids Can Grow: Food For All” workshop was offered by Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve staff Glenda Clayton and Martha Martens. Eleanor Whelan, a local volunteer, also assisted with the day. The students learned how to grow food for people and wildlife. “I liked the workshop,” reported MacKenzie Stewart. “I thought it was going to be really boring but it wasn‟t because we got to go outside. We played fun games; we made pots and got the chance to grow plants. We also learned about the monarch butterfly and made a worm composter, gross, but fun. The activity I liked the most is when we made the pots out of clay, oh, I almost forgot, we also painted butterflies, which were also out of clay. If there is another “Kids Can Grow” workshop I would recommend it to kids.” A new naturalizing workshop was offered this spring by Anne Bossart, a volunteer with the Parry Sound and District Horticultural Society, and Jan Bywater a volunteer from Parry Sound Nature Club. This workshop encouraged people to think about alternatives to traditional lawns and to plant native shrubs and plants in our yards to add beauty and attract wildlife. Up-coming workshops also include “How to Compost in Bear Country” and “Gardening in the Autumn.” The GBBR is thankful for all the volunteers that make these free workshops possible. Many participants donated generously to our local food bank. We are grateful to the financial support provided by the Walmart – Evergreen Green Grant Program and Sobeys Earth Day Canada Community Environment Fund.


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Taking Teachers Out of the Classroom Teachers had a chance to spend a day outdoors with the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve staff during a special training day called “Encountering Nature: Taking Your Class Outside” on March 30 at Muskoka Woods Camp in Rosseau. The goal was to involve teachers who are environmental leaders in their schools, giving them greater skills, confidence and knowledge to deliver prepared "Lessons-in-a-Backpack". Each lesson is a unit linked to the Ontario curriculum and related to the local UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Since 2009, 15 different units have been developed and are available free to teachers from the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve website. Themes include aquatic ecology, forest ecology, and species at risk. The workshop used a "train the trainer" model allowing teachers to take part in lesson plans that they can use for their classes later. During the day, three experts presented related topics. Steve Munro, from Westwind Forest Stewardship Inc., gave an overview of forest ecology and key issues, such as how climate change is increasing pest outbreaks in the industry. Glenda Clayton, from GBBR, updated teachers on the 35 species at risk here, and Rebecca Willison from the Muskoka Watershed Council gave an overview of water quality monitoring techniques for children to use. Other organizations invited to share what resources they offer included Killbear Provincial Park and “Sciensational Sssnakes.” With contacts such as these, teachers are given the opportunity to expand their outdoor teaching. Carrie Nolan, staff of GBBR, is working on her Ph.D. thesis related to leadership. “Children learning not only in classrooms but also directly in the outdoors reap academic benefits as well as increased appreciation and knowledge of nature. Studies have shown that learning in nature can help students improve attention, academic performance and attitudes as well as foster creativity. We hope to make the benefits of outdoor education accessible for local teachers and we want to encourage them to integrate the natural world into their lessons.” The training event was made possible by the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Lake Huron-Georgian Bay Framework for Community Action. The day ended with a planning session to secure commitment from teachers, linking them into the Biosphere Educators Network, and creating a wider community of practice for environmental education.

“We hope to make the benefits of outdoor education accessible for local teachers and we want to encourage them to integrate the natural world into their lessons.”

Steven Munro on speed date with an Eastern Fox Snake Photo courtesy of : Thom Morissey

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About the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve

Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve 17 George St. P.O. Box 337 Parry Sound, ON, Canada P2A 2X4 Phone; 705-774-0978 Website: Email:

Greg Mason General Manager

The eastern coast of Georgian Bay, stretching from Port Severn to the French River is a globally significant ecosystem. It contains the largest freshwater archipelago in the world, known as “the 30,000 Islands” and has been designated as one of only 16 UNESCO World Biosphere Reserves in Canada.

Rebecca Pollock Communications Manager Glenda Clayton Species at Risk Coordinator David Bywater Report Card Program Coordinator Robin Marwege International Intern Brittany Mahnke Marketing & Communications Coordinator

Scan with your smartphone to “like” Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve on Facebook.

Board of Directors Pat Northey Brian Pfrimmer Brian O‟Donoghue Glen Hodgson Tonia Blenkarn Bill Spinney Doug Deeks Lynda Marshall

Advisors Gary McMillian Al Will Roy Schatz Jeff Child Jack Contin Eric McIntyre Rob Veijou Jim Hanna Kirsten Spence Michael Vollmer

Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve Memberships Members are kept informed of special events,

Individual Membership $40 receive our newsletters and special invitations! For more information please contact: Student Membership $20 or 705 774-0978 Corporate Membership $100 Thank you for your support!

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Summer 2011 Newsletter  

Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve's summer newsletter