Maitland Conservation receives work plan progress report

·6 min read

WROXETER – Jayne Thompson, communications and GIS-IT coordinator for Maitland Conservation (MC), updated board members on the progress made by staff over the summer in a report at the September regular meeting.

Thompson praised staff members for their diligence and determination in working through the pandemic, also expressed by all board members present.

Components, work plan activities, and progress were itemized in Thompson’s report and broken down into individual services.

Corporate Services updates included governance and leadership, specifically government relations strategy – federal and provincial, progress stated as:

- Chair & G.M. met with Lisa Thompson, MPP for Huron-Bruce, to review MC’s consultation paper on mandatory services. In addition, comments were sent to Randy Pettepiece, MPP, Perth Wellington, Minister of Environment, Conservation, and Parks, and the Minister of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry.

- Financial Management updates included document management, tangible capital asset inventory updates with replacement values, and replacement schedule HST review.

- Purging was completed in August; Phase 1 vendors are being paid via electronic funds transfer. Phase 2 vendors will begin to be added in the fourth quarter of 2021.

- Asset changes, acquisitions, and disposals have been recorded for the first half of 2021, and the recording for the second half is underway.

- Staff has compiled all data required for the review period and forwarded it to the consultant. The on-site work is scheduled to begin on Sept. 20.

The communications update included marketing and promotion activities, saying various print and social media promotions were completed for service areas, including Gorrie Dam decommissioning, a survey of shoreline landowners, lake level updates, and COVID-19 operational updates.

MC held Healthy Waters and Forest Health displays at the Blyth Community Market and partnered with Huron County’s Cultural Services.

The department is to have Falls Reserve Conservation Area (FRCA) passes available at each Huron County library branch.

The I.T. and GIS did their annual computer hardware and software upgrades, including fibre optic internet connection installed at the Administration Centre. The older computers got refurbished and updated for seasonal staff and FRCA. In addition, a two-step log-in procedure was implemented for staff working outside the office to improve security.

GIS support to service areas included new Southwestern Ontario Orthophotography (SWOOP) imagery received; work continues preparing it for staff use.

Outside requests included packaging and providing data for engineers/consultants/public as requested and providing data for neighbouring conservation authority’s projects.

Work plan activities for water source protection included planning, direction, education, outreach, and reviews of assessment reports and source protection plans.

Conservation Area updates included:

Gorrie Conservation Area - Gorrie Dam Decommissioning and Park/River Restoration:

- The contractor completed the removal of the dam structure and site rehabilitation of the Gorrie Conservation Area.

- Authority staff installed new barrier posts and ordered trees and shrubs for fall planting.

- Picnic shelter renovation started with a completion expected spring of 2022.

Gorrie Mill:

- Salvage Company selected to remove the Gorrie Mill building and complete site restoration this fall.

- Maitland Mills Association removed historical artifacts from building to use as future display items.

Administration centre renovations:

- Renovations completed to the old entranceway—new door, window, drywall, and painting complete to create a new office space.

- Carpeting project complete with all offices, hallway, and back stairs carpeted.

Administration centre naturalization:

- Front garden planted with a variety of native wildflower species.

Conservation Areas operations:

- Inspections completed on day-use areas, trails, and dam infrastructure.

- Phragmites control was completed at Gorrie and Galbraith Conservation areas.

- The contractor completed the second phase of invasive buckthorn removal at Wawanosh Valley C.A.

- Hazard tree removals at Brussels and Gorrie C.A.

Naftel’s Creek Conservation Area:

- New benches were installed along the blue and orange trail system.

Falls Reserve Conservation Area:

- Tenders were received, and the contractor was selected to replace septic system upgrades. Work is expected to commence in early fall until spring 2022.

- Members’ tour completed celebrating 50+1 years of camping at FRCA.

- Park usage remained high throughout the summer, with camping sites booked to capacity on weekends.

Flood and erosion services issued 27 permits since June, with the year-to-date total sitting at 94. In addition, they had 40 general inquiries, making the year-to-date total 142; 50 planning inquires (136 year-to-date), and 10 planning comments, making the year-to-date total 35.

Watershed stewardship services reported on tree planting, rural stormwater management, cover crops, the Huron Clean Water Project, Wellington Rural Water Quality Program, Developing Pro-Active Stewardship Programs, Long-Term Monitoring, Forest Health Study, and the On-Farm Applied Research and Monitoring (ONFARM).

Tree planting services:

- 54 Active HCWP Projects planned for fall 2021 or spring 2022

- 19 HCWP projects completed (34 so far in 2021)

- nine Middle Maitland projects scheduled for fall 2021

- two Garvey-Glenn projects scheduled for the fall of 2021

- Nature-Based Climate Solutions proposal for restoration funding was approved. 4 planting sites were identified for 2021.

- Application to become a Planting Delivery Agent for Forest Ontario programs was approved.

Student project developed for collaboration with Niagara College Ecosystem Restoration Program.

Rural Stormwater Management:

- Eight new Erosion Control and Wetland Projects initiated (17 so far in 2021)

- New Agreement with St Clair Region CA for green infrastructure municipal drain demos and case studies.

- Supported Pine River Watershed Initiative Network on wetland restoration proposal.

Cover crops:

- 41 new cover crop applications for HCWP (51 so far in 2021)

- Nature-Based Climate Solutions cover crop proposal approved.

Huron Clean Water Project:

- 67 new applications started (145 so far in 2021)

- 22 new projects have been approved (80 so far in 2021)

- Estimated grant of approved projects = $104,863

- The highest number of applications in 2021 have come from Cover Crops (51), Fragile Land Retirement (33), Forest Management Plans (17)

- 37 grants paid out to landowners (130 so far in 2021)

Wellington Rural Water Quality Program:

- One planting project planned for fall

Developing Pro-Active Stewardship Programs:

- All Healthy Lake Huron CA’s have developed consistent erodible soil mapping for the basin and estimated adoption of vegetation cover and crop rotation.

- Staff is revisiting past restoration projects to interview landowners and take post-restoration photos.

Long-Term Monitoring:

- 2 PWQMN runs and 23 samples

- 23 E. coli samples for watershed report cards

- Two pesticide samples

- 11 PGMN wells checked and data sent to MECP

- Equipment maintenance at Kerry’s Line for G.G. Project

Forest Health Study:

- Currently finishing up the first year of the field season

- Completed 80 new plots (2021 Total: 103 plots on 42private properties across the watershed)

- We have had very positive interactions with landowners: some of who have come out to help us and do fieldwork

- Landowners are engaged and want to know about their own forest and its health

On-Farm Applied Research and Monitoring (ONFARM):

- One new sampling event (2021: 5 sampling events at the watershed outlet and four at the edge-of-field station)

- Working on improvements to control water samplers remotely

Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times

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