Manitoulin Streams wins Premier’s Award for Innovation Excellence

SUDBURY—The Manitoulin Stream Improvement Association has received the 2013 Regional Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence for Northern Ontario. As part of the award, Manitoulin Streams were given a recognition plaque, a $5,000 cash award, a gate sign and the use of the Premier’s Agri-Food Innovation Excellence workmark image for promotional purposes.

“I congratulate all of our award recipients across the province whose innovative ideas and products help advance our agri-food industry and build on our strengths to create more good jobs for the people of this province,” said Kathleen Wynne, premier and minister of Agriculture and Food.

“These awards demonstrate the innovative and collaborative spirit that thrives in Ontario’s Northern communities,” said Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci. “I congratulate all the winners.”

“Since 2001, we have been working with landowners, agricultural producers, businesses, schools and government to restore cold-water streams on the Island,” said program manage Seija Deschenes in a news release. “Over the past 12 years our organization and its volunteers have completed over 40 in-stream rehabilitation projects (33 large and 11 small scale projects). Large scale projects involved bio-engineered site designs to restore and enhance the aquatic ecosystem.”

Ms. Deschenes explained that 27 of the projects involved working in cooperation with agricultural producers on Manitoulin Island. “Manitoulin Streams aids farmers to reduce the impact their livestock are having on important cold water streams,” she said. “This is completed by means of installing remote watering devices (frostfree nosepumps, seasonal and solar water pumps), cedar rail fencing and controlled livestock ramps for watering and to promote rotational grazing.”

In addition, noted the program manager, Manitoulin Streams staff and volunteers work at re-establishing riparian areas that stabilize shoreline banks; reduce water temperatures by providing shade and reducing the impacts of climate change and reconnect fragmented habitat providing wildlife corridors.

“It was an honour to attend Premier’s Award presentation on Monday, along with a fascinating group of Northern Agricultural Innovators,” said board member Delmer Fields. “All recipients of this award made reference to their desire to make a difference in agricultural practices, in particular with respect to providing healthy, affordable, fresh produce in Northern Ontario.  Along with Manitoulin Streams they are committed to implementing and leaving their legacy to our children and grandchildren.”

“We are proud to have been acknowledged by the premier’s office and look forward to working on a host of new projects with the community in 2014,” added Ms. Deschenes.

Among the 27 projects, a total of seven watering pads have been installed, two of which allow rotational grazing on fields on the opposite side of streams, as well as four frost-free nosepumps, two seasonal and two solar water pumps have been installed. A total of 2,825 metres of cedar rail fencing and 1,235 metres of page wire fencing have been installed to restrict livestock from damaging shoreline banks and riparian habitat. There have also been 23,887 trees planted to stabilise and protect 280,154 square metres of riparian shoreline by creating wind buffers, wildlife corridors and providing shade for the streams to cool water temperatures. Two historical dams that created a water holding pond for livestock were decommissioned and the stream was re-designed to its original state using bioengineered techniques to reduce fragmented habitat for migrating salmonids and trout.

Michael Erskine