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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Hundreds of dead carp washed ashore of Lake Simcoe

Hundreds of dead carp washed ashore of Lake Simcoe

Toronto - The dead carp have returned to the shores of Lake Simcoe by the hundreds.

Natural Resources Minister Donna Cansfield told 680News it's not a public health risk and carp appear to be the only fish impacted by the annual die off.

She says the MNR is monitoring the situation very closely.

"The most common reason actually is disease. And that's what we're finding here. We believe that these carp that are now in the hundreds -- it could be in the thousands -- were probably diseased," explained Cansfield.

It's mostly along the eastern shore between Keswick and Lagoon city.

Last year thousands of dead carp washed ashore in the Kawartha Lakes.
Durham Region is offering a special Monday-only curbside pick-up of the dead fish. York Region residents can put them in the green bin.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Town of Innisfil plans to spend $775000...

The Town of Innisfil plans to spend $775000 of its $850000 cash-in-lieu
parkland reserve fund to buy a 100-foot lakefront property on Leonard

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Residents monitoring creeks along Simcoe’s northeast shore

Residents monitoring creeks along Simcoe’s northeast shore

Paddling up Murphy’s Creek on a spring morning, Stephen Bimm enters a world of extraordinary natural variety he calls The Zone.

Guiding his red canoe through “a maze of Everglade-style canals,” past cattails, bulrush, willow, silver maple, spruce and pine, the Plum Point resident encounters as many as a half-dozen curious otters, swimming or standing on their haunches to stare, along with beavers, minks, muskrats, great blue herons, green herons and many other wetland creatures.

“The stillness, the freshness, the abundant wildlife — it’s unbelievable,” says Bimm.

Murphy’s Creek, which flows into McPhee Bay, is one of five creeks along the northeast shore of Lake Simcoe that has been monitored by the North Mara Beach Ratepayers for the last few years.

An electrician by trade, Bimm is the group’s environmental co-ordinator.

“Because I have a beer fridge for the water samples,” he quips.

Four years ago, concerned about the lack of data at the northeast end of Lake Simcoe, the ratepayers began taking monthly water samples from four creeks — Murphy’s, Wainman, Water Lily and Glen Rest Creek as well as the Talbot River.

The idea was to establish baseline readings for phosphorous, nitrogen and E. coli in the creeks, said Bimm.

“We wanted to build a database because the conservation authority was not paying attention to the north end of the lake.”

The first two years, the ratepayers paid for the laboratory tests themselves.

But last year and again this year, the Lake Simcoe District Conservation Authority has agreed to pick up the $2,695 lab costs.


Entire Album

` Twice in four years the tests have revealed elevated levels of E. coli in two of the creeks, and phosphorous levels are at times higher than desirable, but for the most part there has been nothing suggesting declining water quality in the test results.

The sense is the pollutants in the creek and the lake as a whole have plateaued, said Neil Roe, president of the ratepayers association.

Like many other longtime lake watchers, Bimm and Roe see causes for optimism and reasons for concern about the water quality in the Lake Simcoe watershed.

Many species of birds that feed on fish such as osprey are flourishing and swans and green heron are more abundant, suggesting a good food supply.

On the other hand, the condition of water in the lake seems to have deteriorated in the two decades, said Bimm.

When he bought his waterfront property on Plum Point in the 1980s, blue-green algae was rare.

“Now we can have four or five blooms a year.”

And the algae, which releases hazardous toxins, seems to appear earlier each year.

“I put my sailboat in the water this spring and I could have walked on blue-green algae.”

There are more weeds in the lake

“Overall, everybody is concerned.”

The formation of many environmental groups around Lake Simcoe is cause for optimism, as well as the commitment from both the federal and provincial governments to focus resources on improving water quality.

On the other hand, people seem slow to grasp the implications of their actions by continuing to use dish and laundry detergent and other cleaning products containing phosphorous and fertilizer containing nitrogen that stimulate the algae and weed growth in the lake, said Roe.

Antibacterial soap can also degrade the environment by destroying bacteria that plays a beneficial role breaking down plant and vegetable matter, said Roe.

“Joe Blow still doesn’t get it.”

Bimm says controlling development will be a key to protecting the lake.

At one time there were plans to turn the Murphy Creek wetland into a Lagoon City-style development with homes lining a man-made canal system, said Bimm.

That kind of development is thankfully now prohibited, he said.

But there will continue to be development pressures, particularly along the shore.

Having base-line data for the creeks that might be affected and a greater understanding of the lake’s ecosystems will help municipalities, residents associations and developers plan responsibly, said Roe.

“You can’t stop progress,” said Bimm.

“Otherwise none of us would be living on the shores of this beautiful lake.”

But as new projects come along, an informed populace can participate more effectively, said Bimm.

“Groups like ours can pose the questions.”

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Lake protection act can't move fast enough - letter

Given the track record of Innisfil council, I was not surprised to hear that they think that the Lake Simcoe protection process should slow down in the May 21 edition of The Scope.

It would appear that council are concerned about anything (including protection of the lake) that could potentially get in the way of fast tracking high levels of development in Innisfil.

Your article indicates that council worries that lake protection may be a rushed process. In fact, the process dates back to at least 2006, when Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop brought forward a private members bill to establish a natural heritage system and watershed protection area for Lake Simcoe and the Nottawasaga River. It was almost a year ago that Premier Dalton McGuinty announced his government's intention introduce a Lake Simcoe Protection Act. I understand that the government is projecting almost another year of a study and consultation before a plan (which would follow from the act) is in place. This is not a rushed job.

From the information provided in your article it would seem that the council is concerned about the momentum in the public to develop an act that will truly protect the lake, by also protecting our land and its woodlands and wetlands. Phosphorus is a symptom of a larger problem. Southern Simcoe County has been left unprotected by its exclusion from the Greenbelt. Subsequently, leap frog development pressures have resulted in the destruction of the woodlands, wetlands and farmland which filter and protect our lake water. We need an act which which will not just remediate the lake's problems but that will also protect the Lake Simcoe watershed which sustains the lake. We need a strong protection act that is not just about band aid solutions, but one that will address root causes of our lake's problems. Readers may also be aware that the government of Ontario is considering criteria with which to consider municipal requests to expand the Greenbelt. Currently, only 40 per cent of Lake Simcoe's shoreline is covered by the Greenbelt. Greenbelt protection would have a huge impact on preserving our natural environment.

It is important that citizens continue to take a strong role in protecting our lake and its natural environment. Unfortunately, we cannot count on our local government. Citizens can make a difference. Readers may wonder what they can do to help ensure that the government produces a strong and effective protection act. I would encourage anyone who cares about the lake to learn more about how an organized group of citizens and scientific experts have banded together to create Campaign Lake Simcoe. Check out their website at www.CampaignLakeSimcoe .ca. Write to McGuinty, Minister of the Environment John Gerretsen and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Jim Watson. Let the provincial government know if you do not agree with Innisfil council's request to slow down the process of protecting Lake Simcoe, and inform them if you would like to see the provincial government intervene in the local government's rush to develop the land which protects our lake.

Maria Baier-Reinio,


Monday, June 02, 2008

Canada's Environment Minister Celebrates Canadian Environment Week

Canada's Environment Minister Celebrates Canadian Environment Week

Canada's Environment Minister, John Baird, today launched this year's Canadian Environment Week (June 1-7) and World Environment Day (June 5) by challenging Canadians to do more to protect and preserve Canada's environment.

"As Canada's Environment Minister, I share Canadians' passion for protecting our environment," said Minister Baird. "Canadians want to see their Government take a leadership role but they also want to do their part to protect the environment. That is what Canadian Environment Week is all about. It is an opportunity to focus on the impact Canadians can make towards a cleaner environment, healthier communities and a better quality of life for all."

In the last year alone, the Government has taken serious action to protect vast wilderness lands in our North, including an expansion of Nahanni National Park Reserve, the protection of the South Nahanni River headlands, and major land withdrawals around the East Arm of Great Slave Lake and the Ramparts River and Wetlands.

The Government is also moving full steam ahead with its Turning the Corner plan to reduce greenhouse gases and air pollution, the toughest plan in Canadian history. Our plan will reduce greenhouse gases an absolute 20 per cent by 2020.

"Our Government believes strongly in ensuring a healthy and sustainable environment for current and future generations," added Minister Baird. "That's why our environmental agenda is focused on conservation of our parks, protection of our wildlife, fighting climate change, and protecting and ensuring clean water for all of us."

The Government of Canada's commitment to Canada's environment is backed up with over $9 billion in environmental investments across the country. This includes major investments to protect Species at Risk across the country, and almost $100 million to help clean up environmental hot spots in the Great Lakes, as well as targeted action in places like Lake Simcoe and Lake Winnipeg, which are suffering from extensive blue-green algae.

"By working together to protect our environment, we can all make a difference," said Minister Baird. "By making even small changes to our lifestyles we can all help not just in our local communities or even across the country, but for our world as well."

For more information on activities taking place in your community this week, visit the Community Calendar available on Environment Canada's website