Once again, the Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association has had an exciting and productive year. It has been a rather different year for us with COVID-19, as it has been for everyone, but we have continued to do our best at preserving and protecting the amazing biodiversity of the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula through these times. The Biosphere Association is in stable condition, although it has been a tougher year since there were not many provincial grants for environmental organizations, but two companies stepped up to make critical contributions. Locally-based Caframo selected us as their Charity of the Year and Wawanesa Insurance chose us for a significant donation. We are very grateful for their support and look forward to the next year as we continue to work on our conservation projects and exciting adventures. Have a great holiday season!
Welcome and Farewell to Our Team
This year we have had the pleasure of having some new board members and employees join us. At the same time, we have had to say good-bye to board member Tim Little who made many valuable contributions to the Biosphere Association. We want to thank him for all of the great work he did ranging from Communications Lead (producing banners, managing the calendar fundraiser and more) to volunteering as a “Sweep” for EcoAdventures. We wish him the best and are happy he will continue to volunteer his talents with us on specific projects.
Our newest employees are Caeli Mazara whose EcoAdventures position is funded by Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation and Brooklyn Hewton, funded by HRSDC. Caeli is helping to create, market and deliver new EcoAdventures. Brooklyn is working with both the EcoAdventures team and the Biosphere Communications team, and worked hard to help create this newsletter.
We would also like to welcome our newest board members, John Mielhausen, Glen Estill, Carol Shaw and Kelly Burgess. John is a fourth-generation beef cattle farmer bringing his valuable experience and fresh perspective to the Biosphere Board. Glen is well versed on energy issues, related technologies and climate change and has participated in several businesses, making him a great asset to the Biosphere Association. As a high school communications teacher, Carol’s specialty in graphics, photo and video editing will enhance our social media ability to provide engaging information and education. A recently retired educator and former Farm Property Assessor, Kelly has a solid background that will be valuable in her new role as board lead for communications (thanks also for your help with this newsletter).
New Grants and Funding for 2021
In previous years, the Biosphere Association was awarded and managed ten or more grants. In 2019 and 2020 due to provincial funding cuts we were reduced to five grants which, when taken together with COVID-19, made for a very challenging period. However, we are hopeful for 2021, and as fall grant application season concludes we have just completed several applications to fund new and ongoing projects.
Climate Action Grant - Environment and Climate Change Canada
We are hoping to hear some good news in January, 2021 regarding our joint application with the Bruce Peninsula Environmental Group (BPEG) and Sources of Knowledge to provide the community with the knowledge, skills and tools to fight climate changeFunding is requested to accelerate the transition to electrified transportation and housing. Our electrical grid produces few carbon emissions compared to gasoline and propane heat. Also, part of this project is funding to work with the community to develop a Community-wide Climate Action Plan that engages all economic sectors (agriculture, tourism, construction etc.) in developing specific actions to reduce their carbon footprint.
Grant for Crane River
This project will assist us in continuing to work with farmers to give cattle access to alternative watering sources, other than the river.
Through Bayside Astronomy our volunteer astronomers hire and mentor two students to help deliver this very popular public education program that is one of the Peninsula’s star attractions in this Dark Sky Community. While we receive funding from HRSDC, support from Lion’s Club and Rotary and raise money through the Biosphere Association raffle we still need Municipal support to cover about 15% of its cost. Therefore, we have requested $2000 in funding for next summer’s Bayside Astronomy Program.
Septic System Grant - Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change
We are hoping to continue our work on improving and replacing old septic systems that border a watercourse in order to improve water quality. To date we have supported replacement of 40 systems!
Cabot Head Road Grant - Grant Received! Three charities rely on the Cabot Head Road which has been damaged by high water levels, to generate revenue to support their operations. The Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory, The Friends of Cabot Head, Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association and
the Dyer’s Bay Association, are pleased to announce this grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to examine solutions for the Cabot Head Road.
EcoAdventures: Fat Bikes - Grant Received!
We are pleased to announce this Ontario Trillium Foundation grant to purchase fat bikes for all new programming that will allow us to continue offering unique, four season opportunities on the peninsula.
Pictured here visiting Bioremediation production facility are: David Ure, Peggy Van Mierlo-West, Tyler Hayes, Glen Estill, Ryan Deska and Mayor Milt McIver
Fertilizer is important on fields but excess phosphorus in streams leads to algal blooms and impairs aquatic habitat, so in 2016 the Biosphere Association applied for a three-year Trillium grant to introduce best practices to reduce “nutrient loading” (phosphorus, nitrates) from soil erosion into local streams. Working with Professor Bulent Mutus of the University of Windsor and his graduate student David Ure, the Biosphere Association arranged field testing of a bioremediation filter they had developed. Over 70% of phosphorus was removed at the test site and full results were published in the Journal of Environmental Management. The biochemistry academics continued to work and developed an even more effective filter that reduced phosphorus loading by 90%! These results have also been published.
This collaboration led Professor Mutus, Elizabeth Thorn (Chair of BPBA) and John Rodgers (Vice-Chair of BPBA) to meet weekly since January. They researched possible markets for phosphorus biofiltration products, organized an Advisory Committee and explored how phosphorus remediation products could be manufactured on and sold from the Northern Bruce Peninsula. Biosphere Environmental, the Biosphere Association’s second social enterprise was born, meeting the twin Biosphere Association goals of sustainable economic development and conservation. The mission of Biosphere Environmental is to reduce agriculturally-based nutrient loading in watercourses by creating remediation technologies that apply leading edge research that is grounded with practical on-the-ground experience.
A three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed with the University of Windsor to develop and market bioremediation products. Work continues toward the vision of creating a “Research-Based Agricultural Manufacturing Industry Cluster”.
Three important milestones were reached this past summer and fall:
If successful, the Red-headed Woodpecker’s Protection Grant will give us the ability to build and enhance Red-headed Woodpecker habitat, which consists of dead trees along the edge of a forest, near a field or wetland for feeding on insects. We are currently working on contacting local farmers to locate nesting pairs so we know where they are most active and where our contributions will make a difference. These amazing creatures' species at risk status has just been increased to endangered. This grant requires a 50% match so please donate if you can. UsePayPal to donatefor this critical project.
Six Streams Initiative - 7 Years
One of our biggest projects has been the Six Streams Initiative which addresses water quality issues in Judges Creek, Stokes River, Old Woman’s River, Unnamed Creek into Pike Bay and Swan Lake. (Black Creek is the control stream). There are five areas of focus to restore and protect the unique karst springs, fresh water lakes and cold and warm water streams of the Peninsula:
Sample and monitor water quality
Provide cattle with alternative watering sources, other than streams
Fix failing septic systems
Reduce phosphorus and sediment loading from soil erosion into the streams
EcoAdventures has had an active and exciting year. Although the pandemic put a stop to offerings for a while we have been up and running since mid-July with a COVID-19 operating strategy and many new things to offer. Recently we have been running night hikes, supported by Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation. We are now offering a Winter Solstice Wander.
With the winter season approaching, we have launched our popularSnowshoe to the Grottoadventure again. As usual, these are selling out fast! Plans are in the making for another exciting snowshoe location, skiing adventure and more Full Moon Snowshoe adventures (the first is already sold out!)
EcoAdventures has purchased an 8-person canoe and we're planning to buy some fat bikes for all-new programming! These purchases will allow us to take participants off the beaten path to incredible locations.
We're also really looking forward to launching our newest Forest Escape next spring, located in the Bruce Peninsula National Park campground at Cyprus Lake.
We are very excited for the upcoming seasons and hope to see lots of new and familiar faces out on the trails!
The COVID-19 pandemic played waste with most organized public-facing programs this summer and Bayside Astronomy was no exception. For the first time since the program started in 2012, we could not offer any public programs. It is just too difficult to social distance when the entire purpose of the program is to assist the public in viewing the night sky through telescopes and to explain what they are seeing. We have continued to stay in touch with our Facebook page - Bayside Astronomy
For those who are unaware of the program, every summer the Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association runs a public outreach program that consists of star talks, with as many as 13 volunteer amateur astronomers showing the public objects in the night sky through their own telescopes. The Bayside Astronomy Program provides summer employment for students, cultural and scientific knowledge for seniors and the general public, and promotes protection and preservation of one of our most important assets, our dark skies. To find out how you can play your part in keeping our Dark Sky Community dark, download our pamphlet: Dark SkyFriendly Lighting - Are you a Good Light Neighbour?
Looking for a Unique Holiday Gift? Do you have someone that can be hard to buy for and you want to give them something interesting and useful? What about a Gift Membershipto the Biosphere Association or a donation in their name, or how about an EcoAdventures Gift Card, for those that are looking for great memories and less stuff.
The Biosphere Association is always looking for new volunteers and have a variety of ways you can help. Some of these include: helping at Bayside Astronomy, planting seeds and trees, researching ideas for new projects as well as many more. We are always happy to have all the helpers we can. If interested, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org