Essex Region Conservation Authority

About 160 runners get “wet and wild” at Hawk Run

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Runners and walkers returned to Holiday Beach Conservation Area again this year and were doused with water along the way.

The “Wet and Wild” Hawk Run was held Sunday morning at the County Road 50 conservation area, with ERCA event planner Alex Denonville stating about 160 runners and walkers took part overall. That figure included the kids’ dash that preceded the run itself.

Runners get drenched with water as they compete in the "Wet & Wild" Hawk Run Aug. 20 at Holiday Beach Conservation Area.

Runners get drenched with water as they compete in the “Wet & Wild” Hawk Run Aug. 20 at Holiday Beach Conservation Area.

At least that many volunteers were on the route itself, spraying runners and walkers with water, throwing buckets of water on them or arranging that they walk through a makeshift tunnel of foam. The Amherstburg Fire Department was also on hand to make sure the participants got wet.

“We have a great group of volunteers,” said Denonville.

Denonville added he was pleased with how the event turned out.

“It was awesome. You couldn’t ask for better weather,” he said. “Holiday Beach is an incredible place to be. It’s all about friends, it’s all about bringing family out. It’s a great event to host.”

ERCA partners with Walkers and Runners From Around the County of Essex (WRACE) and has other area sponsors as well, Denonville noted, with ERCA’s proceeds from the event to stay at Holiday Beach. He noted such projects as the eco-washroom and new cottage that will be soon available for renting as projects done at the site.

Megan and Heather Gagnon cross the finish line at the end of the kids’ dash as part of the "Wet & Wild" Hawk Run held at Holiday Beach Conservation Area Aug. 20.

Megan and Heather Gagnon cross the finish line at the end of the kids’ dash as part of the “Wet & Wild” Hawk Run held at Holiday Beach Conservation Area Aug. 20.

“This is one of the great events that highlight our conservation areas,” Denonville added.

Each participant received a medal and children received water guns as well with a free lunch also offered, thanks to the sponsors. The run/walk itself was 5K and took place within Holiday Beach.

To see the RTT’s photo album on the event, click here.

ERCF hopeful of reaching $30,000 through annual golf tournament

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Essex Region Conservation Foundation (ERCF) was the focus of a fundraising golf tournament last Thursday at Pointe West Golf Club.

The foundation, the fundraising arm of the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA), hosted its 29th annual tournament and Danielle Stuebing, ERCA’s director of communications and outreach services said it was the second year of it being at Pointe West.

“It was a great day. We had almost 100 people join us,” said Stuebing. “We’re hoping to get $30,000 for conservation initiatives.”

Stuebing pointed out that the funds will go into the “Place for Life” campaign with that campaign consisting of four pillars – trails, greening the region, conservation education and heritage preservation at the John R. Park Homestead.

A number of municipalities were represented as teams with politicians and administrative members among those hitting the links.

The Essex Region Conservation Foundation (ERCF), the fundraising arm of the Essex Region Conservation Authority, held its 29th annual golf tournament last Thursday at Pointe West Golf Club. The winning team included (from left) Todd Laliberte, Jen Cassidy, Pat Cloutier and David Cassidy.

The Essex Region Conservation Foundation (ERCF), the fundraising arm of the Essex Region Conservation Authority, held its 29th annual golf tournament last Thursday at Pointe West Golf Club. The winning team included (from left) Todd Laliberte, Jen Cassidy, Pat Cloutier and David Cassidy.

“We’re very fortunate to have the support of a lot of municipalities because the work we do benefits the entire region,” said Stuebing. “It’s great to have such wonderful support.”

Susan Stockwell Andrews, president of the ERCF board of directors, told the golfers that “your partnership and support really does help” fund projects and initiatives.

“This is one of the most successful fundraisers we have each year,” said Stockwell Andrews.

The Place for Life campaign has a goal of raising $1 million over three years and Stockwell Andrews noted they are trying to preserve history as well as the environment.

“We are truly blessed to live in such a stunning area,” she told the crowd at the post-tournament dinner. “We are working to protect natural areas that you see. It’s all due to your support.”

For further information, visit www.placeforlife.ca.

ERCA, ERCF launch new visual identity

 

 

Special to the RTT

 

The Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) and Essex Region Conservation Foundation (ERCF) have launched a new visual identity to demonstrate the strengthened relationship between the two organizations.

“Through our strategic planning effort last year, we heard over and over that the public wants to better understand who we are and what we do,” explained Ed Sleiman, ERCA Chair.  “We have been grateful for the work of the Essex Region Conservation Foundation and their many successes over the past four decades.  Indeed, many of the conservation projects and programs we have accomplished would not have been possible without the tremendous leadership and financial support of the Foundation and its many volunteers, participants and donors.”

ERCA chair Ed Sleiman, Essex Region Conservation Foundation president Susan Stockwell Andrews and ERCA GM Richard Wyma unveil the new visual identity for the Essex Region Conservation Authority and Foundation.

ERCA chair Ed Sleiman, Essex Region Conservation Foundation president Susan Stockwell Andrews and ERCA GM Richard Wyma unveil the new visual identity for the Essex Region Conservation Authority and Foundation. (Submitted photo)

Throughout the public consultation process for the Essex Region Conservation Authority’s 2016–2025 Strategic Plan, the message to strengthen ERCA’s image as a customer service-based, valued, and knowledgeable organization, and enhance integration of extension programs such as the Essex Region Conservation Foundation, resounded.

Concurrently, the Essex Region Conservation Foundation was undertaking research to determine a plan of action to position itself as the environmental foundation of choice in the Windsor-Essex-Pelee Island region.

Throughout these processes, the two agencies stated it was determined that strengthening the relationship between the two organizations, rather than differentiating them, was the best path forward.  ERCA implements the conservation projects and programs, while ERCF raises the funds to support this important work.

“There was some confusion in the public about which organization did what,” said Susan Stockwell Andrews, President of the ERCF.  “But, we heard loud and clear that who does what is less important than what we achieve together.  And what we are doing together is making the Windsor-Essex-Pelee Island region the Place for Life.”

In fact, the two organizations have embraced the Place for Life concept as part of their formal identity. The Place for Life reinforces that all elements of a place are interconnected – our community, its environmental health, healthy lifestyles for our citizens, and our economy. Life recognizes our living, thriving, sustainable natural systems. Life refers to the people of our community; their health and protection, and our shared heritage. The organizations say it shows they “embrace this place and make it our home. For life.”

An overarching Essex Region Conservation visual identity has been created, which promotes the Place for Life.  As well, both the Authority and Foundation logos have been updated and modernized with unique but complementary icons and messaging that strategically portray the spirit of the Place for Life.

“We are so excited that after more than four decades, we embrace a new visual identity to better reflect the conservation work we do and the strength of our relationship with the Essex Region Conservation Foundation,” said Richard Wyma, ERCA’s General Manager and Executive Director of the Foundation.

erca-logo

Essex Region Conservation has also launched a social media contest to build community excitement and pride in our region, and showcase all of its special places.  “The Essex Region is truly a special place,” Wyma added.   “Our region is the most southerly, and biologically diverse in all of Canada. We are at the centre of the Great Lakes, which supply more than 20% of the world’s fresh water, and are stewards of more than 290km of Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair and Detroit River shoreline.  Every person has a story about their place; and we want to learn why you choose to make this region your #PlaceforLife.”

Essex Region Conservation is urging residents from this region and beyond to tell their story or send a photograph via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the #PlaceforLife hashtag for a random chance to win an outstanding prize package.

Wyma cautioned that as a responsible public agency, this new visual identity will be implemented over time.  “As our signage, vehicles and other materials require replacement, the new look and logos will be incorporated,” he said.  “However, we will not be replacing our assets before they come to the end of their useful life, so the old ERCA goose will be around yet for a bit of time.”

Groundbreaking held for next phase of Cypher Systems Greenway

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Construction on the Cypher Systems Greenway has officially broken ground and the latest and largest stretch should be complete in two months or so.

Representatives from the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) and the Essex Region Conservation Foundation (ERCF) joined elected officials from Amherstburg and Essex at the Agris Co-op in McGregor for the ceremony. The co-op is next to the trail with the Cypher Systems Greenway also intersecting with the Chrysler Canada Greenway in McGregor.

Claire Wales, vice president of ERCF’s board of directors, stated that “trails link healthy place and healthy environments” with the foundation’s “Trail On!” campaign having started in 2012.

“Thanks to a generous and significant gift of $250,000 from Cypher Systems Group, and support from the federal government, the town of Essex and many corporate and individual donations, we are so thrilled to be here to celebrate the groundbreaking of this long awaited trail,” said Wales.

Wales pointed out Cypher Systems Group made its contribution in 2015. The “Trail On!” campaign raised over $1 million to develop the 26-kilometre trail but donations are still being accepted as other amenities as community entrances need to be developed.

Ground was officially broken Sept. 29 in McGregor for the Cypher Systems Greenway, which will run from Essex to Amherstburg and intersect with the Chrysler Canada Greenway. From left: TWEPI CEO Gordon Orr, Amherstburg Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale, Essex Mayor Ron McDermott, Essex Region Conservation Foundation board vice president Claire Wales, ERCA general manager Richard Wyma, ERCA chair Ed Sleiman and Cypher Systems Group COO Dave Dyer.

Ground was officially broken Sept. 29 in McGregor for the Cypher Systems Greenway, which will run from Essex to Amherstburg and intersect with the Chrysler Canada Greenway. From left: TWEPI CEO Gordon Orr, Amherstburg Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale, Essex Mayor Ron McDermott, Essex Region Conservation Foundation board vice president Claire Wales, ERCA general manager Richard Wyma, ERCA chair Ed Sleiman and Cypher Systems Group COO Dave Dyer.

ERCA chair Ed Sleiman thanked all the contributors and everyone who is helping make the project happen.

“Green spaces, trails and a healthy environment directly contribute to our region being recognized as a place of choice for people to live, visit and invest,” said Sleiman. “Trails improve the communities where they are built, which is why we are so pleased to be celebrating another success with our partners.”

Dave Dyer, chief operating officer with Cypher Systems Group, brought greetings and said the company was happy to get behind the new trail.

“It’s a great event,” said Dyer. “It’s a great step in the next part of the greenway and we are proud to be part of it.”

“We love this community and are happy to partner with this organization to expand the greenway and improve upon the health and quality of life in our region,” Cypher Systems Group president Brian Schwab in a press release. “The groundbreaking of this trail has been years in the making and we are thrilled that we could contribute to such a worthy endeavor and be part of this exciting event.”

Essex Mayor Ron McDermott was joined by his deputy mayor Richard Meloche and councillor Steve Bjorkman in presenting the ERCF a cheque for $100,000. McDermott said it is a project that benefits not just Essex and Amherstburg.

“It’s good for the entire community,” said McDermott.

McDermott said the two impacted municipalities are divided by boundary lines but a project like the greenway brings them together.

Amherstburg Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale said the ceremony and the trail itself was a prime example of what can happen when people work together. He echoed McDermott by stating there may be boundaries between Essex and Amherstburg but the trails are bringing communities closer together.

“I admire you all,” said DiPasquale.

Other Amherstburg council members at the groundbreaking were councillors Rick Fryer and Leo Meloche. Both Fryer and Bjorkman are also ERCA board members.

Gordon Orr, CEO of Tourism Windsor-Essex Pelee Island (TWEPI), said outdoor adventure is a “pillar” for the area and called the 26-kilometre trail a “tourism enhancer.”

A portion of the trail in Essex was completed several years ago and the current work will extend the greenway into Amherstburg.

Festival of Hawks coming to Holiday Beach Sept. 10-11 and Sept. 17-18

 

All eyes will be on the skies this September as local birders and nature lovers take in one of North America’s greatest migrations.

These watchers will call the Holiday Beach Conservation Area home as they take in a grand spectacle: tens of thousands of hawks and raptors flying overhead on their annual journey to nesting grounds in the south.

In recognition of this amazing sight, the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA), in partnership with the Holiday Beach Migration Observatory (HBMO), will host the 2016 Festival of Hawks Sept. 10-11 and Sept. 17-18.

According to ERCA, the festival features a range of free educational activities and nature-themed programming.

HBMO experts will be on-site conducting hawk banding and adoptions. Event-goers will get up close and personal to a variety of raptors as the experts measure, tag, and then release these birds back into the wild.

Visitors will also be able to witness the live raptor display of Kingsport Environmental, a local organization which rescues and rehabilitates raptors and promotes falconry through education programs.

HBMO experts on stage as the crowd looks on at Hawk Fest 2015. (Special to the RTT)

HBMO experts on stage as the crowd looks on at Hawk Fest 2015. (Special to the RTT)

The ongoing banding and live hawk display will be complimented by free programming throughout both weekends. Local experts will be on-site to teach on a wide range of birding and nature-related topics.

Some of these programs include:

  • HBMO’s Bob Pettit, will share his years of experience on identifying hawks in flights.
  • Ted Kloske, of Henry’s Windsor and Maple Grove Studios, and Glenn Gervais, of Southshore Outdoor Photography, will help budding photographers get their best nature shot.
  • Blaine Landsborough & Rachel Hasson, of the University of Windsor, will discuss their ongoing research into the night time habits of migrating birds.
  • Vic Bernyk, of Native Plants & Trees, will help attendees identify local plant species around Holiday Beach.
  • Mike Malone, of Pelee Wings Nature Store, will show how to get the most out of your binoculars and scopes.
  • HBMO members Jeremy Bensette & Kory Renaud will share their local knowledge on the best birding in the Essex region and the secrets of Holiday Beach.

“There’s something for everyone at the Festival of Hawks. The programs are designed to be accessible to all knowledge levels, from complete amateurs to expert naturalists,” explained ERCA’s director of community outreach services Danielle Stuebing. “It’s also a great event for families, as we also host an educational Hawk Fest Scavenger Hunt, crafts, and free face painting for kids.”

The Festival of Hawks runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on both days of both weekends. Visitors can also enjoy lunch provided by the Essex County Field Naturalists’ Blue Kestrel Café or HBMO’s BBQ Booth.

All programs are free with the festival admission fee of $15 per vehicle. The final list of programs will be released Sept. 1 and made available at www.erca.org/birding.

The best raptor viewing time is from 9 a.m. until noon when the hawks fly low.

The Holiday Beach Conservation Area is located on County Road 50, on Lake Erie near Malden Centre.

Since 1973, the Essex Region Conservation Authority has served as a community-based organization dedicated to protecting, restoring and managing the natural resources of the Essex Region. See you on the Hawk Tower!