On Saturday June 10th, over 150 people came out to count the species in Killbear Provincial Park. It was part of a “Bioblitz” where experts helped people to observe nature and learn about biodiversity.
Fifteen different sessions were offered throughout the day, from early birding to late night owl prowls and moth identification. Other guided outings included reptiles, fish, plants and a benthic program for kids where they could catch and count critters in the water.
Seven-year old, Percy Shurr, came with several families and talked about his day: “I loved the fish – especially catching them with the seine net. We found a black-nosed shiner and a black-tailed shiner. I liked seeing my friends too.”
Several hundred species were documented over the weekend, with 300 entered so far. The final tally is still out because experts are entering their data into the iNaturalist app from their observations collected on Sunday. The final data is open source and free to the public and will help Killbear Provincial Park in the future.
Parry Sound High School science teacher, Nancy Regan, brought her nine-year old son, James. He said: “I liked seeing the live rattlesnake. We saw a salamander and a mink frog.”
According to Becky Pollock, executive director of the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve: “Park naturalists are reporting that there were at least 60 species of birds recorded. Red headed and red-bellied woodpeckers are both southern species that are now in the Parry Sound area – likely indicators of changes in climate. We also had some Sandhill cranes that are a species that have recolonized the area over the last 10 years and sound fantastic when they call. About a dozen reptiles and amphibians were seen and approximately 20 different species of dragonfly – not to mention the other insects found. There are still several unidentified species that will take some outside experts to confirm.”
Although the reptile count started off slowly with Snapping turtles laying eggs on the side of the road, then an Eastern garter snake, a Midland painted turtle and a Northern water snake, by the end of the weekend five Massasauga rattlesnakes were spotted (and documented for research) and one boy climbing a tree at his campsite spotted two Eastern foxsnakes mating.
“The more eyes on nature, the more sightings get reported,” explains Pollock. “It’s the definition of ‘citizen science’ where people of all ages can contribute to science. It was exciting to see people going off on their hikes with nets and guides and binoculars to find out what lives in our Biosphere. We were very proud to host a Canada 150 Signature Project – one of the 38 Bioblitz events across the country.”
The events are being coordinated by the Canadian Wildlife Federation and supported by the Department of Canadian Heritage. For more information, visit BioBlitzCanada.ca
By Chantelle Distler
Distler Construction Ltd has been a proud member of the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve since 2012. We are a small, family owned company that has been building quality custom homes and cottages in the Parry Sound Area since 1989. In the past 10 years we have expanded our expertise to larger developments including a 27 lot subdivision (Residence at Prospect Point), a 96 unit condo development (Silver Birch Condominiums) and an 18,400 square foot Medical Arts building.
When building a home, energy efficiency is often a concern for the customer. At Distler Construction Ltd, many of our projects exceed the requirements for energy efficiency, which reduces fuel use and the impact on our environment. As a custom builder, we work together with the customer to ensure their concerns are addressed. Whether it’s by using less traditional construction assemblies to achieve higher r-values, or using more efficient heating systems to reduce fuel consumption.
Our team is led by two principal members, each having a strong connection to the GBBR:
Stephen Popovich works at the intersection of urban design, architecture, landscape, ecology and economics. Stephen’s design process is focused around the social and cultural agenda of communities, and how people connect and interact with each other and their environment. Stephen’s personal connection to the GBBR is through family summers spent cottaging and kayaking the coastline.
Kendall Flower contributes a background in both landscape architecture and planning. Kendall’s design process focuses on achieving a sustainable balance between people, their built spaces and conservation of the natural environment. Kendall grew up on the shores of the GBBR, discovering the open water, inlets and forests.
We are proud members of the GBBR, supporting and aligning with the principles and goals of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Programme toward a sustainable social, cultural, economic and environmental future.
The closing of the Community Stewardship Program (CSP) marks a significant milestone in eastern Georgian Bay. Over 150 participants attended Stewardship Workshops over two years, and almost 100 projects from Honey Harbour to Britt received funding. Facilitated by the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve since April 2015, CSP provided technical advice and funding to landowners, cottagers, businesses, and organizations.
The CSP used a holistic approach toward maintaining water quality and environmental health in Georgian Bay and Lake Simcoe. “The Community Stewardship Program encouraged stewardship on the part of seasonal and permanent residents.” states Program Coordinator John Osmok. “There has been an ongoing need for accessible stewardship funding, and we were fortunate to finally provide it.”
At the program core were simple recommendations on best management practices to maintain or improve local water quality and ecosystem health. These practices not only reduce environmental impacts, but protect landowner’s investments. Examples include:
- Ensure your property mimics the natural areas around you. Maintain or plant a buffer of native vegetation along the shoreline. This protects fish habitat and other aquatic life.
- Store chemicals and fuels away from water: All potential contaminants should be stored if possible 150 meters from water, preferably in their original containers in a building with a concrete floor without a drain. The best solution is to keep as few chemicals as possible on your property.
- Regularly have your septic tank pumped and inspected. Also keep leaching beds clear of trees and other woody plants that can block the weeping tiles.
Education and Stewardship Coordinator Delaina Arnold says “The Community Stewardship Program built on other programs offered by the Biosphere such as Life on the Bay. Community members have embraced stewardship education and we hope to see the enthusiasm continue.”
Funding opportunities are no longer available, however many stewardship resources remain accessible online at gbbr.ca/communitystewardship. Anyone interested in a free self-assessment guidebook can contact Delaina Arnold at [email protected] or 705.774.0978 while supplies last.
The Community Stewardship Program was made possible through the Environment Canada Lake Simcoe South Eastern Georgian Bay Clean Up Fund and numerous partners.