A grassland birds habitat conservation research project, under the direction of Frontenac Stewardship Foundation (FSF) member, Wolfe Island’s Dr. Barrie Gilbert, will receive a grant of $25,000 as a winner in the Shell Fuelling Change competition, a program that invited customers to make Shell purchases, collect receipts with voting codes, and vote for identified environmental projects. The Frontenac Stewardship Foundation works with landowners and lake associations to promote good stewardship of land and water toward biodiversity and landscape connections. The Shell FuellingChange grant for the Foundation’s first research project: Research on Habitat Restoration Methodology for the Bobolink, an Endangered Species, using Experimental Management was announced by FSF president Gordon Rogers.
The Grant money will help initiate trials of native grass and wildflowers to create habitat for Bobolinks, other grassland birds as well as wild bee pollinator habitat in a demonstration project of experimental plots, to highlight practical actions that can be developed on private lands for grassland birds using field research to establish best management practices for habitat restoration.
The introduction to the Bobolink project notes that in the Lower Great Lakes-St. Lawrence zone grassland birds have declined by 70% since 1973 with several species at risk of local extinction. “Currently how to enhance habitat quality for Bobolinks is hampered by knowledge gaps leaving us uncertain whether qualifying pastures should be left intact or replaced with native prairie plantings,” according to project director, Dr. Barrie Gilbert. “The risk for the species and for their habitat could be improved with this project, fill knowledge gaps, minimize impacts on species at risk and ensure better recovery.”
The study will be conducted on Bear Point within the Big Sandy Bay Management Area operated by the Township of Frontenac Islands under a Land Use Permit from the Ministry of Natural Resources, according to Gilbert. “The island is known to host the highest density of Bobolinks in Ontario, a unique advantage for the project,” he added.
“What do Bobolinks need for optimal habitat? Biologists have struggled to define habitat comprehensively or to develop a reliable list of features and factors for grassland birds because habitats have been so thoroughly modified or wiped out. Can we reduce, mitigate or eliminate threats to Bobolink habitat by testing and demonstrating an alternative to the current conversion of grazed pastures to row crops? This 3 year project offers many challenges, however the enthusiasm of private landowners provides an opportunity to test ideas for restoration of species at risk and their habitats and to offer practical actions. When the prairie grasses and flowers are established we will monitor bobolink numbers and nest sites,” Gilbert concluded.
It is expected that landowners may also establish their own native grass plantings to attract a variety of birds and pollinators. Students and others will be invited to observe the experimental plots on visits to the Conservation Area .
FYI -Dr. Gilbert has a 25-year research and teaching background, specializing in the behavioural science aspects of birds and mammal management, security aspects of habitat requirements, human-wildlife conflicts and teaching the legal, political and biological aspects of endangered species management. Prior to teaching wildlife science, Dr. Gilbert was a wildlife research biologist with Alberta Fish and Wildlife Division.
Around Town: * Many children were out for the annual Santa Claus parade on Wolfe Island, this year held in the early afternoon followed by hot chocolate at the Fire Hall. Some dandy floats, and many horses.* Nice to see Tom & Family home. *Skating at the rink has begun. No winter schedule as yet. *Wolfe Island plans to run for Hockeyville 2014. For details: Please contact Michelle Joy, member Hockeyville Committee (media relations) firstname.lastname@example.org
***Each year as Christmas approaches I think of the many Christmas’s that Walter and I have spent in a variety of places and the 24 Christmas’s we have spent on the Wolfe Island. I think of the grandchildren who have been so much a part of the wonder and joy of our island Christmas’s and of our own four children, one of whom (our youngest) was born on Christmas Day. Never deterred by that fact Christine joined in joyfully to all that went on during the Advent Season, lighting the candles of the Advent wreath and the Jesse tree , the singing each night of O Come Emmanuel and the quiet time to think about the empty Christmas crib and who would carry the baby Jesus to that crib while Walter read the Gospel of St. Luke on Christmas morning. For year’s Christine let everyone know that Jesus was born on her Birthday, enthusiastically sang Christmas hymns,(and still does) and so much more. I think of my parents, my mother who lived with us for many years and showered her love on the children, and who every Christmas Eve by the light of the Christmas Tree sang Silent Night (in German) with her incredibly beautiful voice, bringing us to tears. I am grateful for the many year’s of memories. Most recently I have been thinking about a 22 year old granddaughter who, when I asked, did she have plans for Christmas? gave me strange look and replied “Where else would I be for Christmas Grandma than with you and Grandpa. I have never been anywhere else.” We wish Family, Friends and Neighbours, those near and those far away, Peace this Christmas 2013
The first item on the agenda of the December Frontenac Islands Council meeting was the swearing in of Mrs. Natalie Nossal as a council member (until the 2014 election) filling the position left vacant with the resignation of long time Howe Island politician Pat Norris. Frontenac Islands (Interim) CAO Gordon Burns applied the Oath of Office before the well attended meeting. Nossal was selected by vote from among four candidates from Howe Island including : Joseph Beatty; Heather Lippert and Louise Farrah-Watson. Council was delighted with the response to their call for applicants and welcomed Nossal to the table, (where this year there were Christmas cookies for the occasion from resident Terry Botten)
The meeting included two delegations:1. Frontenac County Planner Joe Gallivan presented a second annotated 2nd draft of the County Official Plan available on the county web site with a staff report explaining some of the revisions (shown in yellow; bold faced is something added ;strike through deleted) in preparation for it presentation to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. The plan with certain deletions will focus primarily on regional strategic county issues. Some details have been moved to the appendix allowing for amendments in the future. Gallivan noted the plan had been well reviewed by county council that is in accord with each township having its own official plan and county plan offering a regional plan. “We are at a stage now where we are getting the ministry more involved,” he said. Potential timeline: Adoption by county council, and township councils, submission to the ministry of a high level plan without too much detail in it submission. “I think I have it pretty clear picture from county council what their expectations are for a plan and my job is to make sure the ministry understands that this is the type of (high level plan, community building) plan Frontenac County wants. We are about two thirds of the way through the process.”
2. Howe Island Fire Chief Quinn outlined what the Fire Marshal is about to undertake with regard to the Township establishing a regulating by-law which sets the parameters for Emergency Fire Services. The original bylaw for Howe was established in 1984. This would be a new consolidated Frontenac Islands wide bylaw establishing Howe and Wolfe Island Fire and determining the services they can provide. Following discussion the Establishing and Regulating bylaw for Frontenac Islands Fire and Rescue Service was read and first and 2nd time. Quinn recommended a formal joint Fire Committee for both islands. (formal minutes to council, all public meeting dates etc.) . Presently only Howe has a formal committee. CAO Burns alleviated Deputy Mayor Jones concerns about increased costs in the amended Fire and Rescue Service regulating bylaw. Any costs for proposed purchases etc. would be submitted through the budget process. Councillors Grant and newest member Councillor Nossal as well as the two Fire Chiefs will serve on joint committee (of council). The mayor is ex officio member of all council committees. Deputy Mayor Jones announced with regret that long time former Howe Island councilman Geoff Hobbs had died after a long illness.
In other business:* Deputy Mayor Jones announced with regret that long time former Howe Island councilman Geoff Hobbs had died after a long illness. * Council supported the township of Seguin’s resolution to the province in opposition to the proposed 2015 OPP costing formula and its impact on municipalities policing costs. There was more but that’s for next week.. Council meets next: Wolfe Island, Jan. 13, 2014 at 6:30 pm.
Around Town:*1. I doubt there was a dry eye at the WI “Blue” Christmas Ecumenical Advent service which speaks about grief and loss in the context of shared Christian faith, by those mourning at this time of year held at the WI United Church led by Pastor Erin Burns. Together with Rev. Canon Chris Carr and Fr. Raymond de Souza islanders remembered loved ones and heard the names of the 30 island residents who died during 2013. It was good to sing, to pray and to listen to scripture, to write a name, light a candle and acknowledge together the loved ones who have gone before us and the loneliness that often comes this time of year. Percentage wise, to lose thirty persons in one year is not many. But in a small community where you knew, or are related to many of the thirty, it is too many.
*2. The WI Community Medical Clinic opened its doors for the first Specimen Collection Centre operated by Lifelabs welcoming 13 clients the first morning. Clinics are scheduled for the first and third Friday of each month (next Friday Dec. 20th)) Frontenac Islands Mayor Doyle extended “Congratulations and thanks to the Clinic Board for this wonderful new service. A good start I am sure will build as time goes on. It also meant 13 fewer vehicles on the early morning ferry making room for others,” he said.
Coming Events: Next Specimen Collection Centre at the WI Community Medical Clinic : FRIDAY DEC. 20th 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM * No appointment needed. Bring OHIP card and blood test requisition
When Howe Island resident Pat Norris, a member of Frontenac Islands Municipal Council resigned his position the township had some decisions to make about filling his position. Should the person next in line from the last election be chosen at this late date? Should there be a by- election? Should members of council ask around in the community for interested individuals? What ever their decision, would citizens step up to the plate to fill the position knowing that if chosen, their term would last only until the next municipal elections to be held in October 2014 , approximately 13 months away? Leaving it vacant would leave the Howe Island Ward with only one direct representative while the Wolfe Island ward has two representatives and the Mayor is elected at large ( by both wards).
As it turned out council declared the position of Councillor from Howe Island vacant on October 15th, posted the vacancy and a request for applications to fill the post no later than Dec. 2nd on the Township’s website (Nov. 7th) and in local papers (Nov. 9th).a request for applications to fill the post no later than Dec. 2nd And within a few days four people did step up to the plate, filing applications and completing the required oath of qualification. The four candidates from Howe Island included : Joseph Beatty; Natalie Nossal; Heather Lippert and Louise Farrah-Watson. Council was delighted with the response.
The vote to fill the council position took place at a Special Meeting of Council held Dec. 4th on Howe Island. Each of the present members of council was with each member entitled to one vote among the four candidates, who were named in alphabetical order on the ballot. The candidate who received the most votes was Natalie Nossal. And in accordance with provincial regulations Council passed a by-law appointing her to the vacant position on council. The candidates were to be notified of the results of the vote the following day. The swearing in of the Councillor Nossal is scheduled to be held at the regular monthly meeting of council Dec. 9th on Howe Island.
2. In other business Council received two reports on its infrastructure. One was combined on all the roads and culverts on Frontenac Islands and the work and costs needed to bring them up to standards as well as maintain them. This was a joint report presented by AECOM’s Guy La Port for AECOM and 4 Roads Management Services. The second report by KPMG included the information about work and costs resulting from the first reports in the “Asset Management Plan” for the township.. An “Asset Management Plan” is required by the province before any possible discussion of funding.
Vicki Leaky, of KMPG, noted both reports are a mass of detail, but concluded in a summary the township would require $55 millions (some $32,000 per resident) to replace the all the township’s assets, including ferries, buildings, and equipment, and this would be in addition to the costs annually of repairing and rehabilitating all the assets over their useful life.
The real pressure is on the 22% of the roads deemed deficient and that some $20.8 millions should be spent to address this infrastructure need, plus annual maintenance. The latter is now at $350,000 but should be closer to $1.8 million a year.
The report is intended to give council a clear picture of what is needed and offered a strategy of 4 points….first to expend funds to protect the current level of capital assets ..next to consider a 5 year capital levy of 2%…explore the use of debt as a funds source….and continue to pursue grant programs from senior levels of government.
Council accepted the reports as they are required by the province, but did not reach any conclusions or decisions as to a future direction or action.
3. Council will continue its contract with Frontenac County for accounting services excluding budgeting and payroll for 6 months.
Items of interest noted by council members: 1. Need to go to tender for planned boat ramp. 2. WI’s Historical Society along with Roly Jensen and his equipment put this year’s very tall Christmas tree in place at the WI Town Hall. 3. Budget discussions will begin week of Jan. 6th. Council meets next Dec, 9th on Howe Island.
Coming events: * Walking program Sacred Heart School, 11:00am - 12:30pm Sunday's * Christmas Story Retold- WI United Church, Dec. 15th, 7 pm Music with Chris Brown and Tammy Repath -Admission: a non perishable food item *Community Euchre St. Margaret’s Hall. Thursday’s 7 p.m. * The Specimen Collection Centre at the Wolfe Island Community Medical Clinic, operated by LifeLabs. 8-10 am Next Date: Friday, December 20, Bring OHIP card and blood test requisition.