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.