Ziigwaan River Stewardship
In September 2018, GBB with many community partners, first nations, municipalities, businesses and individuals celebrated the completion of the first phase of the Georgian Bay Biosphere’s Zigwaan River-Seguin Stewardship project with the unveiling of its butterfly garden.
“This was an idea, it was a seed of an idea that came together with youth and the biosphere, with the Town of Parry Sound corner property and Wasauksing advisers and Shawanaga advisers,” said GBB executive director Becky Pollock. “We have had a lot of impacts on this river – logging, railways, pollutions, development – it’s time to take care of this river like we used to.”
Prior to the start of the unveiling ceremony, children from Wasauksing Kinomaugewgamik School spread milkweed seeds throughout the garden on Great North Road.
“Our river here was very, very sacred to us at one time,” said John Rice of Wasauksing First Nation. “We would gather here in the springtime and in the fall to harvest fish, but also in recent history in the late ’50s and early ’60s a number of people were drowning from our community – my father and uncle being two of them – so what the people remembered at that time is we used to feast this river. So they had a ceremony and they feasted the spirit of this river and the drownings stopped.”
Building Bat Houses
GBB and the Parry Sound Anglers & Hunters (PSAH) held a family bat house building event titled All About Bats in October 2018 at Canadore College Campus.
The PSAH pre-made three-chamber bat house kits that were then assembled by families. GBB delivered a presentation at the start of the event about Ontario’s bats, White Nose Syndrome information, reporting information, information on evicting bats and proper installation techniques for a bat house.
This event was part of a two-year research project to understand the species, populations and ranges of local bats that are species-at-risk. The GBB is undertaking a broad survey as a first step in strengthening the knowledge base for biologists and the public concerning bats in eastern Georgian Bay.
Monarchs & Milkweed: Creating Community Pollinator Gardens
GBB has created several community and school yard pollinator gardens along eastern Georgian Bay and has plans to create more gardens with help and support from local partners. Each garden serves as both an educational resource for classrooms, municipalities, community groups, residents and seasonal visitors, as well as a robust native plant garden supporting the habitat needs of the endangered Monarch and other pollinators. This project builds on GBB’s 10-year history of species-at-risk stewardship-engagement projects. It also provides the opportunity for people to participate in citizen science programs, further assisting Monarchs, and to participate and witness the beauty and simplicity of gardening with native plant species.
Taking Care of Georgian Bay & the Outer Islands
Eastern Georgian Bay contains a unique freshwater archipelago of islands, islets and shoals spread along the coast of granite rock outcrops, wetlands and pocket beaches. Some of these areas, known as “Crown Lands” under provincial jurisdiction, permit certain types of recreation.
Although the islands are resilient to an extent, there are localized impacts from recreation related to human and pet waste, compaction of shallow soils and destruction of vegetation, disturbance of wildlife and habitat, as well as the larger risks of campers starting forest fires. Compounded by the effects of climate change and invasive insects, the islands are vulnerable to disturbance, and to becoming so unattractive that recreation is displaced to smaller islands with even less capacity to absorb the impact.
Since 1997, the “Outer Islands Project” has been a community effort led by White Squall Paddling Centre, to mitigate recreation impacts by cleaning up campsites of garbage, dismantling fire pits, and installing outdoor toilets. The project promotes an ongoing voluntary fire ban – “Save the Trees, See the Stars.” Read about the Outer Islands Project.
The annual costs are not insignificant for the scale of clean-up required among the islands. Fundraising events and other donations from partners ensure the project can continue. In June each year, the Franklin Island Challenge – a 20km circumnavigation by canoes and kayaks of all kinds, and by people of all ages – raises money for the Outer Islands Stewardship Fund.
In June each year, we open the Outer Islands Stewardship Fund for the month to receive charitable donations that support stewardship projects on the Bay. The fund is managed by the GBB Board of Directors with help from a community advisory committee.
If you have a stewardship project that takes care of eastern Georgian Bay and are in need of some funds, you are invited to apply to the Outer Islands Stewardship Fund, using this application form [coming soon]. Thank you for being part of our caring community!
Note: To be a Biosphere under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the region must have “core” protected areas, such as managed parks and nature reserves, surrounded by “buffer” areas to help protect the core areas. Georgian Bay Biosphere supports stewardship initiatives that increase awareness of these habitats and best practices for their use. We acknowledge Crown lands as Treaty lands under the Robinson Huron Treaty of 1850, and the unceded islands of eastern Georgian Bay that are situated in Anishinaabek Territory.