The Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve (GBBR) and the Eastern Georgian Bay Stewardship Council (EGBSC) are working together to foster stronger stewardship work for eastern Georgian Bay and inland lakes. This strategic alignment will be initiated with members from both boards sitting on a new Stewardship Committee.
Terry Crawford, Chair of EGBSC said that: “under the excellent guidance of Julia Sutton we were able to continue a lot of good work for this area. After her departure to follow a life dream, our volunteer board started considering alternatives to the day-to-day struggle of keeping a not-for-profit afloat and doing that good work. We’re quite happy with this new arrangement because the quality organizational structure and staff provided by GBBR allows us as volunteers to do what we want most: focus on conservation and stewardship.”
In 2000, the Ministry of Natural Resources established the Eastern Georgian Bay/North Channel Fisheries Advisory Council to assist with formulating updated fishing regulations on those respective waterbodies. In 2006, the Advisory Council was split into two components, the North Channel and Eastern Georgian Bay, each of which was then incorporated into the MNR’s Ontario Stewardship Network. The Ontario Stewardship Program was discontinued in 2012 leaving the EGBSC to review options as to how their stewardship work on Georgian Bay could continue. The Council incorporated as a not-for-profit organization in 2014 and broadened their focus from fisheries to include other stewardship and species at risk projects.
“The EGBSC has a lot to its credit”, says GBBR General Manager, Greg Mason; “from its roots as a group tied to MNR it has managed to do important fish habitat and monitoring work from the Severn River up to the Key River. Big projects like the Moon River and Musquash River habitat improvement as well as the recent multi-year assessments on seven major rivers, have set the stage for improved fish populations and more great work to come.” After many years working on Georgian Bay and inland lakes, Crawford says: “We’re proud of the partnerships we’ve nurtured with volunteers, NGOs, First Nations and the public sector and are keen to see those continue.”
Now, the Council has signed an agreement for the transition period and terms of reference for a new Stewardship Committee of GBBR. Crawford explains: “We see merits and opportunities in more closely aligning our work with GBBR and continuing to partner for conservation and stewardship.”
Ron Chase, Chair of the GBBR agrees: “GBBR is committed to working collaboratively to support and enhance the legacy of EGBSC. We look forward to encouraging the involvement of individuals and groups focused on championing the important issues of fisheries health and habitat restoration. GBBR’s conservation-related programs such as State of the Bay, Species at Risk, Lessons in a Backpack all provide solid platforms to further the important work of the Council and we look forward to future planning with volunteers, scientists and other groups.”
As of April 1, 2018, GBBR is managing EGBSC’s current projects (tributary monitoring and monarch gardens) and the first meeting of the new committee will be in September 2018. The new Stewardship Committee of GBBR will focus on defining its goals and drafting a work plan for the year ahead. If members of the public are interested in becoming involved in the GBBR Stewardship Committee, they are encouraged to reach out to Katrina Krievins or Greg Mason.