Member Profile: Seguin Township

By: Dominique O’Brien
 
Stretching over 700 square kilometres, Seguin is a vibrant and growing community located in the picturesque District of Parry Sound. A Biosphere Member since 2012, the Township of Seguin is home to 4,280 permanent residents that seasonally swells to over 15,000 residents during the summer months. With largely an environmental focus, our community is truly the “Natural Place to Be”.
 
Seguin Township was formed in 1998 through the amalgamation of Christie, Foley, Humphrey and the Village of Rosseau. All of our local communities are home to community centres, parks, trails and beaches and offer many recreational opportunities. Programming and community events are in place for seniors, adults, young adults and youth.
 
Our Mayor, Council and staff embrace the “environment first” principle. That is, we recognize the unique natural attributes and are passionate about preserving our small rural and waterfront character. We recognize the importance of a sustainable organization through the way we do business both internally and externally.
 
Through our programs and stewardship initiatives, we believe in greening our municipal operations and developing the plans and policies to ensure we achieve our goals. We are proud to be a member of the GBBR and honoured to have partnered with the organization on many occasions.

Member Profile: iSparks Solutions

iSparks Solutions is a proud member of the GBBR. We contribute to our community by capturing and sharing images and videos of our surroundings; while also inspecting buildings for wasted energy, solar panels for inefficiencies and beehives for honey.

iSparks Solutions is an aerial and ground photography, videography, and thermography company that specializes in business promotional videos, sports events coverage, wedding cinematography, real estate images, and thermal/infrared inspections. When we are not flying our drones we are creating videos, websites and marketing.

Did you know that a thermal infrared camera can tell you how hard a bee hive is working without opening the lid? iSparks Solutions completes building inspections to see where heat is escaping, moisture is gathering, potential electrical, plumbing or construction deficiencies. Solar panel inspections with a flying thermal/infrared camera is the most precise tool to determine if a panel is not functioning.

These are just some of the many ways our cameras help to support our environment. Getting eyeballs in the right places is the natural role of drones, working with a team of environmentalist we could quickly assess, inspect and determine if a piece of land is collecting water without actually leaving our footprints. 

iSparks Solutions is fully certified by Transport Canada with a Standing Special Flight Operations Certificate, completed UAV Pilot’s Licence, we are continually upgrading our skills and education and we are fully insured with special risk aviation insurance.

By Andy and Sonya Felsman
iSparks Solutions Husband & Wife Team

Charter Member Profile: Blackstone Lake Association

The Blackstone Lake Cottagers’ Association has been a proud Biosphere Charter member since 2014. BLCA has been actively involved in stewardship initiatives which promote education as a way to ensure environmental respect. The association partakes in annual water quality testing, organizes septic tank pump-outs, and practices mock-rescues for emergency preparedness.
 
Several years ago, BLCA participated in Kids in the Biosphere, which gave families on the lake a chance to engage in outdoor activities. Residents also hosted “stewardship parties” as part of the Life on the Bay program, in which GBBR staff educated cottage owners on best practices to shrink ecological footprints. Blackstone Lake also participated in the Love your Lake shoreline stewardship program and was featured in the GBBR episode of the TVO series Striking Balance.
 
BLCA feels lucky to have the GBBR in the community. The GBBR provides opportunities for similar organizations, and it is the goal of BLCA to communicate continuation of  stewardship education.

Where are they now?

By Brian Mills

I began working with GBBR in May of 2014 on the Love Your Lake program. The survey area was Honey Harbour where I enjoyed my summers, at my parents’ cottage. I was very fortunate to be helping to improve the quality of the environment where I consider to be home. I loved my job and returned the following two summers, surveying over 1500 waterfront properties across the biosphere. I gained a strong appreciation for the unique environment we live in and I have become empowered to protect it.
 
Presently I am working with the Shawanaga First Nation to monitor species at risk populations of turtles and snakes as the Highway 400 expansion continues. This study will investigate best practices to reduce human threats. Research projects like this are essential as we strive for sustainable development and conservation of biodiversity.
I learned new meaning to the term ‘community’ while working at the GBBR. I have endless happy memories including amazing staff field trips, Brew Ha Ha, Dragon Boat Festival, working on Georgian Bay, and lunch outside with happy passionate coworkers.
Thank you GBBR, for helping to keep my home naturally beautiful!

Amazing Places on Georgian Bay

Amazing Places in Georgian Bay BiosphereAmazing Places has arrived on the Bay! The GBBR has introduced the program with 10 sites that highlight the unique biodiversity, topography and landscapes of the Biosphere region. Here’s the list:

  1. French River Gorge: Check out the pedestrian bridge for an incredible view.
  2. Twin Points Trail: This trail showcases the breathtaking scenery of Killbear Provincial Park.
  3. Hole in the Wall: Take a local cruise through this narrow channel of steep rock cliffs.
  4. Lynx Loop: Venture over to the Georgian Nordic Activity Centre to find 30 km of year-round trails.
  5. Waterfront Trail: An accessible 8km trail on the Town of Parry Sound’s shoreline.
  6. Tower Hill Lookout: Climb 30 meters up to enjoy a spectacular 360° view of the Sound.
  7. Park to Park Trail: Stretching 230km in total, this multi-use trail invites hiking and biking.
  8. The Massasauga Wildlands Park: Paddle through this extensive cluster of islands to witness incredible geological patterns.
  9. Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh: Provides tours and trails of the vast cranberry bog, year-round.
  10. Christian Beach: The stunning west side of Beausoleil Island in Georgian Bay Islands National Park.

Inspired by a program launched by the Fundy Biosphere Reserve in New Brunswick, three Biosphere Reserves in Ontario have launched Amazing Places programs: Long Point (Lake Erie), Frontenac Arch (Thousand Islands), and Georgian Bay. The Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, and Mountain Equipment Co-Op provided support.

The GBBR’s objective in introducing the program on the Bay is to blend conservation and cultural education with responsible tourism and travel as part of its UNESCO mandate for sustainable development. Amazing Places is both a community-based tourism product and a public education program. The first 10 sites were selected based on criteria that included public and year-round accessibility, ecological and cultural significance, and the ability to support increased public use.

As the program grows, it will encourage more people to get out and explore the Amazing Places in eastern Georgian Bay. Ten more sites are planned for 2017, including coastal camping and kayaking in the French River Delta. First Nations were invited to name sites of indigenous cultural significance. Remote sites will provide safety warnings, low-impact camping guidelines, and lists of local outfitters that provide equipment, maps and guides.

Check out our current sites and plan your trip at visitamazingplaces.ca.

Bogs and Beaches in the Fall

Autumn in the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve is an amazing time — colourful leaves and cool, fresh air makes it a perfect time to explore. The ten Amazing Places in the Biosphere are fantastic destinations for an autumn adventure.

1

Colors of the cranberry marsh in the fall. Credit: Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh

Autumn is peak harvest season at Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh and Muskoka Lakes Winery. “We start picking two weekends before Thanksgiving and continue every day until the end of October,” says Wendy Hogarth, Proprietor of Cranberry Products. Located near Bala (50km southeast of Parry Sound), the Johnston family has been growing cranberries for three generations. The farm runs drop-in tours daily at 11, 1 and 3. Visitors can see harvesting, taste wine, buy fresh cranberries and check out some of our other harvest activities.

You can easily spend a full day at Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh learning about the harvest and exploring the six trails at no charge. “Our trails are picturesque at that time of year with the changing fall leaves,” says Wendy. “We have a self-guided eco tour trail with signs that point out ecological features of the area. We also have a self-guided cranberry trail with signs explaining all aspects of cranberry growing. There’s a self-guided trail for kids as well with cranberry facts, jokes and a puzzle to solve.”

Autumn is a truly beautiful season at Georgian Bay Islands National Park. “Autumn at the Park is for those who seek tranquility, comfortable temperatures for exploring the trails and no bugs,” says Ethan Meleg, Promotions Coordinator.  “If you’re a nature lover, pack your binoculars to spot migrating songbirds, or your camera to snap photos of the changing forest colours.”

2Christian Beach is an Amazing Place in the Park, located on the west side of Beausoleil Island, which boasts spectacular sunset views over the Bay. “Beausoleil is the largest island in the Park and has a very rich history. When you hike the trails to Christian Beach, you’ll be walking in the footsteps of thousands of years of human history,” says Ethan Meleg, Promotions Coordinator. Artifacts from as early as 7,000 years ago have been found on Beausoleil Island.   Archaeologists have determined that the Saugeen, Odawa and several other indigenous groups used the island as a summer camp.

The Park is located in a transition zone where species of trees commonly found in the north mix with trees from the south. The southern half of Beausoleil Island consists mainly of deciduous trees such as maple, yellow birch, and white ash creating peak colours of crimson red, rich burgundy and deep orange. 

Most people start their exploration from Honey Harbour aboard the “Day Tripper” boat shuttle operated by the Park.  On the island, you can cycle or hike wooded trails and camp overnight at a secluded campsite or waterfront cabin. Bring or rent a bicycle on the island.