Island community benefits from busy year for Manitoulin Streams

Central Manitoulin Public School students with help from Manitoulin Streams work hard on Grimesthorpe Creek.

MANITOULIN—It has been another busy year for the Manitoulin Streams Improvement Association (MSIA), with a lot of work and projects being accomplished that has benefitted the Island throughout the past year.

“We’ve been really busy this year; it’s been non-stop,” stated Seija Deschenes, MSIA coordinator after the MSIA annual general meeting held earlier this month. “We have a great work crew and we’ve accomplished a lot.”

About 25 people attended the meeting held October 2. As part of the meeting Ms. Deschenes provided a power point presentation on everything MSIA has participated in this year. “One of the things we have done this year is extend our educational outreach by participating in community events across the Island, in the various communities and working with First Nation communities.”

MSIA attended 63 different events and provided seven guided tours around the Island in the past year. They had a display at 26 events and talked directly to 1,743 children and 3,062 adults.

In the past year MSIA developed a new partnership with Wiikwemkoong, including the participation of Grade 4-5 students from Pontiac School, in the annual brook trout eyed egg last December. The students learned about and participated in stocking brook trout eggs in Norton’s Creek. MSIA was on hand and set up an information table during the Wiikwemkoong Ice Fishing Derby; taking part in a Smith Bay Creek garbage clean-up community event with the Grade 8 class; being involved in the Bass Lake Creek educational event; working with Sophie Pheasant and the Wiikwemkoong Reduce Reuse Recycle group on environmental activities in Wiikwemkoong; community tree planting; and many other events and activities throughout the year.

Central Manitoulin Public School students helped Manitoulin Streams Improvement Association plant trees as part of a project carried out on Grimesthorpe Creek, last week.

Along with Ms. Deschenes, Sue Meert works full-time for MSIA in educational outreach, along with Jesse Beaudin as the First Nations liaison intern through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation. “We had two summer students helping with invasive species awareness, Angela Kuttemperoor, invasive species awareness liaison through OFAH, and Rebecca Dawson community resource stewardship liaison,” said Ms. Deschenes.

She explained that invasive species work in the past year saw phragmites removal at White’s Point Road wetland with the Manitoulin Nature Club, Manitoulin Streams and Judith Jones Phragmites team; phragmites removal with Wiikwemkoong on Kaboni Creek (Manitoulin Streams, Judith Jones phrag crew and Wikwemikoong lands and resources) with the truxor machine. There was also phragmites removal at Michael’s Bay, and a purple loosestrife larval beetle release in Gore Bay with Charles C. McLean’s Grade 2-3 class, and the Gore Bay Fish and Game Club.

MSIA held its annual Jacket and Jeans Fundraising gala, with 94 local sponsors helping with prizes and donations toward the fundraiser.

MSIA has over 49 municipal, First Nation, school business groups, organization, government, and many other organizations as funders and partners. And this doesn’t include the landowners and other donors who help support MSIA.

During 2017 MSIA along with partners have done work on several sites around the Island. They include the Grimesthorpe Creek S16 site, a livestock restriction project, installation of fencing, stream restoration, bank stabilization and riparian restoration. Last week approximately 300 native shrubs and trees were planted by Central Manitoulin Public School students.

As well, a M’Chigeeng Stream cleanup and restoration took place with the Lakeview School Grade 8 class. And a Mindemoya log jam removal took place at two water body sites in Mindemoya, with log frame removal and stream restoration took place. “We worked with Windy Lake Provincial Park and Sudbury District Stewardship Rangers and volunteers,” said Ms. Deschenes. Log jam removal took place at two sites, and as part of the project, 130 trees and shrubs were planted by Lakeview School.

MSIA planted and distributed a total of 3,153 trees in 2017.

“We worked with Chantal and Kim from Laurentian Living with Lakes Centre conduction pre- and post-invertebrate sampling to determine the positive effects of stream restoration on Manitoulin Streams,” said Ms. Deschenes. “This included data collection, processing and reports on our restoration projects. We completed some of the sites last month and some more are taking place in the next couple of weeks.”

MSIA is also involved in an electro-fishing project with College Boreal. “Students are taught and received their electro-fishing course as part of the field component with College Boreal,” said Ms. Deschenes. “Students collect pre- and post-electro-fishing results at sites that have been rehabilitated by Manitoulin Streams.”

“Manitoulin Streams just finished its youth hunter education course. Ten youth were sponsored to complete their firearm and hunter’s education course,” said Ms. Deschenes. “Manitoulin Streams is sponsoring six youth to take a youth trappers course with George Hagen.” Students between the age of 16-19 will go and stay at his trapper’s cabin, learn about retrieving and setting traps on a trap line, collecting their harvest, learn about how to skin and tan the hides and take a course taught at night so they will receive their trappers licence. We are still looking for students to take this course which is free.”

New this year is a Friends of Manitoulin Streams initiative. With a $50 membership you can receive a charitable receipt, participate in stream restoration work, receive quarterly newsletters. Current members will be grandfathered into the program.

As an indication of how much MSIA benefits the Island community by being an economic stimulus, since 2003 its stimulus on the Manitoulin economy is projected at $4.6 million dollars since then. Manitoulin Streams has also provided many job opportunities.

At the MSIA meeting, elections were held which included Ted Williamson being returned as chair of the MSIA, and Brian Ramakko voted in as vice-chair and elections for board positions. Therese Trainer remains treasurer, and Algus Tribinevicius as secretary.