ERCA

ERCA holds AGM, honors Conservation Award winners

 

 

The Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) held its annual general meeting (AGM) last Thursday night with a number of people from the region honoured during the evening as well.

Eight organizations and individuals were honoured with Essex Region Conservation Awards for their efforts in making the Windsor/Essex/Pelee Island region the “Place for Life.”

The Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) honoured its Conservation Award winners Jan. 18 in Essex. (Special to the RTT)

“It’s always inspiring to learn more about those who have made tangible contributions to our regional environment,” said ERCA chair Rick Fryer, who is also an Amherstburg town councillor.  “There are so many actions being taken to sustain our region as the Place for Life, and it is a privilege to celebrate them.”

Among the winners were Jerome Deslippe, who posthumously received the Conservation Farm Award for the use of conservation farming practices and a lifetime of dedication to agriculture in the community.

“He was very passionate about being a steward of the land,” said daughter Rochelle, who accepted the award on her father’s behalf.

Rochelle said her father was “very, very active in the community” with his biography indicating that he was past president of the Essex Soil & Crop Improvement Association and was also a director with that organization for over 30 years. He was described as “a proud supporter of his community” through many agricultural projects such as the Essex County Plowing Match, the Essex County Steam and Gas Engine Museum and the Ontario Plowman’s Association.

Jerome was also described as being “instrumental” in the establishment of the Essex County Demonstration Farm at Holiday Beach in 1996 and was an early adopter of conservation tillage practices on his own farm and member of the Essex Conservation Club.

Jerome Deslippe was inducted into the Essex County Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1997.

Rochelle Deslippe (centre) accepts the Conservation Farm Award on behalf of her late father Jerome. Making the presentation were ERCA chair Rick Fryer (left) and vice chair Irek Kusmierczyk. (Special to the RTT)

Other winners included:

  • the Iler Family – John R. Park Homestead Award for her preservation of local agricultural history in our community.
  • Peter Berry – Education Award for educating and engaging the community to improve the health of the Detroit River and the lands that surround it.
  • Darlene Burgess – Volunteer Award for protecting, raising and releasing Monarch butterflies.  As a volunteer citizen scientist, she tracks and reports on the monarch migration.
  • Dr. Doug Haffner – Environmental Achievement Award for decades of mentoring students, teaching the next generation of scientists, and conducting significant research which continues to support the management of Canada’s Great Lakes.
  • Rotary Club of Windsor (1918) – Volunteer Organization Award to celebrate a century of service, including tree plantings, stream cleanups, global sanitation and water initiatives, support of ERCA’s outreach program and creating the Rotary (1918) Centennial Hub.
  • Town of Tecumseh – Robert Pulleyblank Award for Municipal Environmental Achievement recognizes the Town’s leadership in protecting Fairplay Woods, tree planting efforts, creating Lakewood Park, innovative solar use and leadership in trail development.
  • Vivian Kennedy – Dennis Chase Staff Award for two decades of dedication, conscientiousness, kindness and compassion to colleagues, customers and partners.

ERCA also reviewed the accomplishments of the past year, including the creation of the Place for Life policies, opening the Cypher Systems Group Greenway and the Rotary (1918) Centennial Hub, restoring over 92 acres of habitat and engaging over 12,000 students in outdoor education, and strengthening organizational resilience.

Fryer also highlighted the planting of “many trees” this year, with the annual report showing that number to be 92,500 trees.

“I continue to say that this is the ‘Place for Life’,” Fryer stated.

Among the other 2017 accomplishments that ERCA touted were aiding municipalities in responding to the significant rainfall event that occurred in late August, initiating steps to develop a regional climate change strategy, the opening of the new cottage at Holiday Beach, initiating a feasibility study with Ducks Unlimited to design and operate a new 70-acre controlled wetland adjacent to the Canard River and assisting five member municipalities with their Official Plan updates.

Crowd of soggy Santas run in rain through downtown streets

 

 

By Jolene Perron

 

The Holiday Spirit has enveloped Amherstburg, despite the rain, and the Super Santa Run has brought hundreds of “Santa’s” to the core Saturday evening.

“It didn’t matter what the weather is, we were coming. We are putting out our Santa suits and it doesn’t matter,” said Leamington native Pauline Kniaziew. “We have been doing this for five years or so, it’s the beginning of our Christmas every year, we look forward to it. We love it, it’s very Christmassy, and the weather today isn’t that great but still looks like there will be a good number coming in anyways.”

The Super Santa Walk/Run is one of the Essex Region Conservation Authority’s annual fundraising events. ERCA works with the Town of Amherstburg to put on the event.

Runners young and old braved Saturday evening’s Super Santa Run. A total of 67 people walked and 205 ran in the event.

“I think that the Super Santa Run is a wonderful event that can involve the entire family,” explained Danielle Breault Stuebing, director of communications and outreach services for ERCA. “It gets people outdoors and active in a wonderfully fun and comical way. It’s quite a spectacular sight to see hundreds of Santa’s storming the streets of Amherstburg, and all of the residents who line the streets to cheer them on. The route showcases some of our region’s special places, including Fort Malden and the Navy Yard Park, all while raising funds for important conservation work.”

Nearly 500 Santa’s Run each year in support of the conservation and their efforts to make the region a place for life. Mayor Also DiCarlo said ERCA plays “an important role” in helping to maintain the natural environment across the region, Amherstburg included.

Runners young and old braved Saturday evening’s Super Santa Run. A total of 67 people walked and 205 ran in the Nov. 18 event.

“We love hosting this event for them, and are honoured that they’ve kept the event in our community,” said DiCarlo. “We will always work with them every chance we get. As for the run itself; I tell people who haven’t witnessed it, seeing that many Santa’s of all ages running and walking in downtown Amherstburg will definitely put a smile on your face. The event is infectious with the holiday cheer it infuses in our community.”

Could town aid in acquiring lands in Big Creek Watershed?

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Lands in the Big Creek Watershed north of Alma St. could be one step closer to preservation.

About 250 acres of land north of Alma St. between Fox Road and Thomas Road were the subject of debate at town council last Tuesday night with Councillor Rick Fryer wanting the town to look into the possible acquisition of the lands.

The land, which local resident Greg Nemeth has long advocated preserving due to the number of species in that area, was the subject of conversations Fryer said he had with ERCA general manager Richard Wyma.

“It’s got to come from our council,” said Fryer, who chairs ERCA’s board of directors. “The (ERCA) board has said, ‘if Amherstburg is willing, we are willing.’”

Fryer said he was not in favour of the town purchasing the land on its own, but with help from ERCA and the province. He said there are now over 550 different species in that area.

CAO John Miceli stated the town is working with the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), adding that MNR is aiming for increased protection of endangered species. There is the thought of having developers contribute to a fund to protect endangered species.

The town will have a report done on the matter and did not agree to any land purchases at the meeting. Councillor Jason Lavigne pointed out he did not want to consider purchasing any new land, noting that town council had heard about the town’s deteriorating road system earlier in the meeting.

Bike Tour raises approximately $20,000 for Essex Region Conservation Foundation

 

Cyclists from near and far celebrated the Essex region’s trails recently for the sixth annual Essex Region Bike Tour.

A sixth route was added this year to include the brand new Cypher Systems Group Greenway, the trail that connects Amherstburg and Essex. It was a fundraiser for the Essex Region Conservation Foundation, the fundraising arm of the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA).

Approximately 275 people participated in the event, said ERCA events planner Alex Denonville, with the event raising about $20,000.

“We’re really happy with it this year,” he said.

Councillor Rick Fryer, who is also the chair of the Essex Region Conservation Authority’s board of directors, was one of the participants in the recent Essex Region Conservation Foundation Bike Tour. He took a break in Malden Centre before heading out for the rest of the ride.

The bike tour included a 15 km beginner ride, a 32 km intermediate ride and a 64 km route along the Chrysler Canada Greenway trail. The 15 km event began and ended at Schwab Farm Community Entrance on the Arner Towline. The 32 km intermediate ride began and ended at the Harrow Community Entrance, and the 64 km route was based from the Caesars Windsor Community Entrance on Country Route 8, just west of Walker Road. An 80 km “Extreme Greenway” ride began at the Sadler’s Pond Park Entrance in Essex.

The road routes are largely part of the County Wide Active Transportation System (CWATS), and include a 104 km advanced ride began and ended at the Vollmer Culture and Recreation Centre in LaSalle. The 58 km road route began and ended at the Essex County Demonstration Farm, located next to Holiday Beach Conservation Area on County Road 50.

The tour welcomed riders from all over southwestern Ontario, Michigan, and the Greater Toronto Area.

All funds raised will support regional trails development and maintenance in the Place for Life.

“Our trails and conservation areas are one of our region’s greatest gems and most important assets,” said Charlotte Loaring, a foundation board member.

Bob Hedrick of LaSalle rides his recumbent bike near the Essex County Demonstration Farm on County Road 50 during the Essex Region Conservation Foundation’s Bike Tour. Amherstburg was on some of the routes that cyclists took.

The bike tour once again welcomed the Windsor Tandem Cycling Club with a two-for-one discount. The Club gives blind, partially-sighted, deaf-blind and fully-sighted cyclists an opportunity to share an enthusiasm for cycling. The tour offered discounted rates to the club to promote accessibility and ensure all can enjoy and celebrate the region’s trail system.

The event also implemented a brand new “Bike Tour Ambassador” program, which invited community leaders and local athletes to promote the tour and lead the ride from their starting location. This year’s ambassadors included ERCA Board Chair and Amherstburg Councillor Rick Fryer, ERCA board member and Councillor Fred Francis, Councillor Rino Bortolin, Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, Lakeshore Councillor Dave Monk, ERCA’s 2016 Athlete of the Year Carrie Lee and City of Windsor 2016 Commuter of the Year Paul Dubois,.

 

 

Festival of Hawks draws hundreds to Holiday Beach Conservation Area

 

 

By Jolene Perron

 

The Festival of Hawks is Essex Region Conservation Authority’s annual celebration of the great migration.

Described as one of the hidden gems of the Essex Region, Holiday Beach is home to one of the most spectacular animal migrations in the natural world. With the cooperation of the timing and weather, thousands of hawks soar overhead. Members of The Holiday Beach Migration Observatory are on the hawk tower from September to early November and the festival is designed to add some more family friendly elements.

Bob Hall-Brooks with The Holiday Beach Migration Observatory speaks to a crowd of birders at the Festival of Hawks Saturday about the birds they have recently caught and banded.

Events planner for the Essex Region Conservation Authority, Alex Denonville explained this is his third year being involved with the festival. He said his favorite part is seeing the families who come out and experience the event.

“One of the first families that was here this morning, they were here at 8:45, they came from South-East Michigan and we had the bander, Bob Hall-Brooks, capture a hummingbird, something they had never seen in their lives,” said Denonville. “To be able to experience that up close and personal, and for me to be a part of that and kind of facilitate that interaction, that’s the more rewarding part. When I see little kids just in awe of that, I know it’s making a difference and it’s getting them to think about it and hopefully when they grow up they will want to protect that.”

Hall-Brooks said the organization was started in 1974, when a group found Holiday Beach to be the best place to watch the fall migration. The tower itself, he said was set up in 1987, and he came along just two years later. At the time however, he was not a birder.

Cindy Cartwright member of Holiday Beach, founder and lead researcher for hummingbirds Canada looks for hawks on the hawk tower at Holiday Beach during the Festival of Hawks Saturday. Cartwright is one of the official counters of the hawks. She was on location Saturday and Sunday answering questions.

“I used to laugh at birders but my wife and I were driving around the county and we found Holiday Beach conservation authority, came in, saw the sign that said Hawk Tower,” said Hall-Brooks. “We climbed up and this was about mid-October and the fella up on the tower showed us, and shared with us, four different species of hawk flying about 20 feet over my head. I was doing a high-stress job at the time … and it just seemed to be a nice place to come and de-stress. Looking out at the marsh, looking up and counting the hawks, so that’s how I started.”

From there, he came out every Sunday to watch the hawks. He began helping with the counts two years later, and continued with that for 15 years before taking over the songbird banding. Hall-Brooks is one of only three people in all of Ontario who is able to band a hummingbird.

Elaine Guitar van Loo works with sepia ink during the Festival of Hawks, doing an ink study of the trail.

“I’ve been coming here for the past 10 years with my kids,” said event attendee Emma Poirier. “We love nature and I just like to bring them here so they can experience nature and experience the birds and learn about whatever the Essex Region Conservation Authority has to offer. It’s just a good way for them to learn all kinds of things about nature and interact and ask questions. This was the first time that they saw the birds of prey up close, so that was really exciting. They really love birds of prey and we actually saw some hummingbirds on the way here too.”

The Festival of Hawks continues next weekend, Sept. 16-17 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Holiday Beach Migration Observatory will also be on location for an additional weekend. For more information on the festival, visit http://hbmo.ca/blog/festival-of-hawks-2017. People can also visit http://www.erca.org/birding.