Maitland Conservation board identifies projects, activities to learn more about in 2023

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WROXETER – Every year, the Maitland Conservation (MC) board members choose projects and activities that MC is engaging in so they can learn more about this work. The information sessions can be incorporated into a regular meeting, or a tour could be organized before a regular meeting.

No business meetings are usually held in July and August to allow members to learn more about authority projects and activities.

General Manager Phil Beard and Communications Coordinator Jayne Thompson presented six projects and activities for the members to choose from at the April 19 regular meeting:

Option No. 1: Indigenous/First Nations Consultation. MC must consult with First Nations, who have treaty rights that cover the watersheds located within our area of jurisdiction. Conservation Ontario has developed a guidance document regarding consultation with First Nations. Staff could develop an information session outlining the First Nations and Métis groups who have an interest in the watersheds within MC’s areas of jurisdiction.

Option No. 2: Shoreline Hazards and Coastal Resiliency Projects: Staff could organize an in-house session and/or tour of sections of the Lake Huron shoreline located within MC’s area of jurisdiction. There are over 800 structures located in areas subject to shoreline, bluff, and gully erosion. There are over 120 eroding gullies that have formed along the shoreline. A tour could be organised to look at some of the areas most prone to erosion as well as some of the more stable sections of shoreline.

Option No. 3: Soil Health: Staff are working with many farmers across the watershed to help them improve the health of the soil on their farms. A tour could be organized to visit some of the farmers who we are working with. An in-office session could also be organized instead of a tour.

Option No. 4: Floodplain Naturalization Project: A tour could be organized to look at a floodplain naturalization project that MC has worked on with a farmer in Morris-Turnberry.

Option No. 5: Wetland Restoration Projects: MC has worked with the Pine River Watershed Initiative to help them restore several wetlands in Huron-Kinloss.

Option No. 6: Wawanosh Valley Conservation Area: Staff could take the members for a tour along the trails at this conservation area to discuss several recent and ongoing projects located at this property. Projects include the decommissioning of the barn structures, bat house installations, and forestry management activities, including buckthorn management and recent tree harvesting.

Most members chose options 2, 4, and 6 because they involved a tangible site visit and felt the others could be presented in-house during the year.

Andrew Fournier, representative for Perth East and West Perth, expressed his keen interest in learning more about option No. 1, Indigenous consultation.

“Option number one, given some of the other information we’ve received over previous meetings,” said Fournier. “There are First Nations that have treaty rights to some of the lands within our wetlands. But we’ve trashed the forest and trashed the entire land so bad. It’s not even like the metaphor of coming back and finding out that somebody wrecked your apartment. It’s like coming back and finding out somebody tore down your apartment and built something completely different.”

Fournier added, “I find option number one particularly fascinating, because we can’t even imagine what it was like the last time they had control over the area.”

Ultimately, members chose options 2 and 6 for in-person tours and options 1 and 3 for in-house presentations.

Members also hope to join the Maitland Conservation Foundation when they tour the area described in option number four.

Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times