“The past year was anything but dull for South Nation Conservation (SNC),” said Terry Campbell, SNC communications liaison, in year-end summary, “as it continued to work closely with its 16-member municipalities, community partners, and local residents, to protect and restore the local environment, protect people and property from natural hazards, and support sustainable development activities.”
The 2019 Spring Flood presented SNC and others with their greatest challenge of the past year with “historic flooding along both the Ottawa and St. Lawrence Rivers.” The SNC, with help from its municipal partners and local media, kept residents in the South Nation watershed region up to date on potential and actual flooding conditions through its monitoring and communications program.
“SNC is continuously working to protect people and their property by updating natural hazard mapping,” stated Campbell, adding that the agency is also reviewing development proposals near watercourses and also working to improve emergency preparedness programs.
Last year the provincial government reduced its financial support for some types of conservation protection programs, including tree planting. The SNC still achieved “a record number” of trees planted within its 4,384-square-kilometre jurisdiction with the aid of local municipalities, service groups, and others.
More than 150,000 tree seedlings were planted, which will help improve the regional forest cover. The SNC also expanded its environmental education outreach programs with the relaunch of its Maple Syrup Education Program, located now in the new Oschmann Forest area in North Dundas. The forestland, which includes a large number of sugar maples, was donated to the SNC. The agency developed the area to serve as site for demonstrations, to students from local schools and also tour groups, of the history, heritage and value of Eastern Ontario’s maple sugar industry.
Other conservation and outreach programs which proved very successful during the past year, include the annual Youth Fishing Camp, the First Hunt Program, and the Stream of Dreams Program, which uses student artwork at local schools to remind both youths and adults about the value of fish and wildlife habitat conservation.
The SNC also continues working on maintaining and improving its Conservation Areas program, which provides free recreational sites for streamside fishing and picnicking along the South Nation River and its tributaries. The agency also continues with its research work on fish and wildlife species and habitats.
“This past year offered great opportunities, new challenges, partnership and accomplishments,” stated John Mesman, SNC communications lead, “all of which were beneficial for protecting and restoring our local environment. We’re looking forward to more this year and all that it has to offer.”