The Biosphere News
Fall 2019/Winter 2020
In March I celebrated my tenth anniversary as the volunteer Chair of the Biosphere Association. Even before the catastrophic COVID-19 virus created world chaos, this last year had been the most challenging for our Biosphere Association. In June 2019, due to Provincial funding cuts, the Biosphere Association was not able to renew the contract of our Executive Director, Dr. Katherine McLeod. Katherine had many successes during her three and half years with us and we miss her dedication and skill. She is particularly proud of her contributions in identifying the critical importance of the karst springs that feed Judges Creek and obtaining the grants to fund their protection. During her tenure she substantially enhanced the administrative professionalism of the Biosphere and was able to extend programming into South Bruce. We know her students at the university are lucky to have her teaching them.
Similarly, there was no funding to extend another contract to Amanda Stanger, who led the Association’s considerable efforts against the invasive plant phragmites as well as many other aspects of community outreach including the successful Forest Festivals. Amanda’s positive and cheery attitude is missed - we wish her well in her new role with Relay Education.
Provincial cuts also affected our ability to undertake new environmental projects, but with the exceptional dedication of the remaining staff we have been able to continue with our very important core projects. Board members and other volunteers have taken on management and operational roles and created successful fundraisers so the good fight is continuing.
Now of course, the Association faces future uncertainty, as we all do, with COVID-19. We are unsure how this fluid situation will play into our programs and the funding we so desperately need to carry on our environmental work on the Bruce Peninsula. We do know that this work we do is important and must continue. We will be following government guidelines while this pandemic lasts, which means making changes to how we meet (online) and postponing/adjusting programs, like all April EcoAdventures. Our priority at this time is the safety of staff and the public.
Despite these setbacks we are pleased to share with you the considerable results we have achieved during these challenging times, and what our plans are moving ahead. So please read on and remember, your donations, memberships and volunteer time, as always and particularly now, make a huge difference.
Thank you to our Biosphere Community,
Volunteer Chair and Volunteer Executive Director,
Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association
Conservation and Restoration
Improving Water Quality – Six Streams Initiative
Many of you will know that a major focus of our water quality improvement efforts has been focused on providing cattle with an alternate watering source than our creeks and rivers because as cattle enter the stream they destabilize and denude the stream banks causing phosphorus laden soil to sediment the stream beds. The phosphorus flows downstream to Lake Huron and Georgian Bay contributing to algae blooms and the soil sediment effects aquatic life and potential spawning beds.
Under the leadership of Neils Munk, our award winning Director of Six Streams, we have now installed 16.5 km of fencing and 70 alternate watering systems. Neils worked with each farmer to design site specific watering systems. Now 5300 cattle drink from watering troughs, not the streams. The result: more than one ton less phosphorus entering Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, each year.
A number of farmers on the Northern Bruce have operations in South Bruce. So, at the request of farmers, for the first time the Biosphere Association undertook projects in South Bruce in cooperation with Grey Sauble Conservation Authority. Three projects were completed this past summer and fall. A “nose pump” watering system, limited access points and 2.3 km of fencing were installed so cattle need not enter the streams to drink.
Work also continues in Northern Bruce on two projects. A major improvement is underway on the upper Stokes River with BPBA program contribution and a substantial financial contribution by the landowner. A year-round water supply has been completed and cattle will soon be fenced from the River.
At the second site, BPBA has provided fencing and a stone level crossing so that cattle can graze a field divided by a watercourse without stream disturbance. The Municipality contributed to the effort by reconstructing damaged banks during a required clean-out effort.
In the spring, a farm tour will be organized so that the farming community can witness first hand these improvements. Of course water testing to measure improvements is part of our work.
The Biosphere Association facilitated exciting research by Master’s student David Ure to investigate the bioremediation of phosphorus using tomato roots as the biofilter. Very successful, it led to publication in a highly regarded scientific journal.
In 2020 we are continuing our work on devising a practical application to use the proven research principles with Professor Mutus and David. Biosphere Association Vice Chair John Rodgers is leading this exploration for the Association and is involving his local students. The Biosphere is supporting the costs of water testing that the students are undertaking as they experiment with a biofilter. Thanks to Grey Bruce Community Foundation for supporting this work!
In the fall of 2019, we had a Pasture Meeting as part of the Trillium North/South project to present environmental best management practices and generate discussion on practical ways agricultural landowners can improve conditions on the farm. Norbert Woerns presented “Groundwater and the Bruce Peninsula” and there was a presentation on plastics recycling in Bruce County delivered by Bruce Davidson. Discussion and networking covered topics of bale wrap recycling, livestock fencing and manure storage.
Septic System Pollution
Provincial funding requested in 2018 has now been approved and in 2020 we will be offering septic system workshops and $4000 incentives to replace 10 septic systems adjacent to a watercourse that have failed. As well we will cover the cost of a septic system inspection and minor repairs for 20 selected systems. By end of 2020 we will have helped homeowners replace 40 systems and inspect and improve 80 others. Since these systems must be impairing water quality to qualify, we feel we are making a concrete difference not just talking about it.
Phragmites Fight Continues
Since 2014 the Biosphere Association has been working to control this invasive weed which is destroying coastal and interior wetlands and blocking residents’ access to shorelines. With residents' help we identified and mapped over 1100 patches. Local Property Owners Associations responded to our call and we helped many residents to identify and learn effective means to control phragmites.
This past summer, under the capable leadership of Wendy Rodgers and the support of the Wiarton Rotary Club, the Northern Bruce Municipality, SEPO, Little Pike Bay and Greenough Harbour Property Associations, the Biosphere was able to undertake a modest phragmities control program. Despite the urgency of this project, Provincial sources of funding have been unavailable.
Red Headed Woodpecker Recovery
The red headed woodpecker’s status as a species at risk has become worse. It is now endangered! We have applied to a federal program HSP to begin recovery efforts.
EcoAdventures are fun, 4 season, guided tours taking participants off the beaten path to give them a deeper understanding of the wonders found throughout the Northern Bruce Peninsula. Net proceeds support the Biosphere Association’s conservation and restoration work. With the help of Board Lead Mike Campbell and our dedicated team of volunteers, EcoAdventures guides Graham Thomas and Rick Roman offer participants 5 Star rated experiences.
Partnership with Bruce Peninsula National Park
In 2019 EcoAdventures entered into an MOU with Parks Canada enabling us to offer our celebrated learning based adventures within the Park boundary! Along with our popular winter Snowshoe the Grotto EcoAdventure, we will offer a signature summer adventure also. Plans are underway and we will be launching this tour in 2020.
Snowshoe to the Grotto
Our Winter 2020 Snowshoe/Ice Trek to the Grotto EcoAdventures were a tremendous success again this year. We added many more dates than last year and sold out again. We were faced with a whole range of weather conditions starting with a complete lack of snow, followed by ice storms, extreme cold, rain and finally enough snow to snowshoe on. Although it wasn’t cold enough to freeze Georgian Bay, meaning we couldn’t get right into the Grotto, thanks to a storm on January 12, we were treated to incredibly stunning ice formations along the escarpment edge which lasted all winter. Once again, participants loved the adventure, as seen by our many five star reviews!
Another sold out series was our annual Owl Prowl. These 2.5 hour treks through local forests on late winter evenings are intended to call and listen for local breeding owls. They can also be thought of as Outdoor Winter Listening (OWL): A contemplative auditory exploration of the night as winter wanes and spring begins.
New! Forest Escape
Program Manager Graham Thomas used the popular escape room craze as a jumping off point to create a Forest Escape. Essentially it is an escape room where the forest is the room. As people solve the puzzles to “save the world” they explore trails, learn about forest ecology and discover fun facts about the Bruce’s special natural environment.
We are also having an increasing number of companies booking and interested in the Forest Escape adventure as a team building or reward program.
Eco Home Tour
This always sold out tour will be offered again this year. It is a chance to see what green living looks like on the Bruce Peninsula. Sign up while tickets last!
Coming Summer of 2020: Canoe Trips
The Biosphere Association was awarded a Spark Innovation Award for its new canoe based adventure. We have purchased an eight person canoe and have some exciting programming plans that we will soon be announcing on our website.
For more information and to register, go to:
Bayside Astronomy is scheduled to start up again for 2020 on the Canada Day weekend Friday July 3rd in Lion's Head. This will be our ninth year of showing the public the wonders of our beautiful dark skies in the Northern Bruce Peninsula.
The Bayside Astronomy program is run by the BPBA and is sponsored by the Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula, funds received from our annual raffle, along with local groups such as the Lions Club and The Rotary Club.
Last summer we had the honour of hiring two students using grants from the federal government and the United Nations in the Americas, and we hope to have one of those students, Malcolm Warren, back again this summer.
This summer Jupiter and Saturn will be the stars of the night sky, and of course the Perseids will be visible on the evenings around Aug 13/14 with the moon not rising until around 1:00 am.
Bayside Astronomy has also been active in ensuring that our dark skies are preserved for future generations. This year we hope to do some Sky Quality Monitoring to see how dark our skies truly are and how things have changed. We have also been doing some consulting with the design committee for the new lighthouse to ensure that the beam does not impact our viewing from the POD.We hope to see everyone out for another exciting summer of stargazing!
Inaugural Gravel Gran Fondo a Smashing Success
The Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association held its debut “Lighthouse to Lighthouse” Gravel Gran Fondo, bike ride October 6th 2019 and we are delighted with the results. Two hundred and sixty-five participants helped raise $24,000 for conservation, stewardship and education programs on the Bruce Peninsula. Riders of every age and ability came from across Ontario to take part in our new and most ambitious EcoAdventures event to date.
After a send-off from Mayor McIver and ride director Mike Campbell, the biking enthusiasts set out on a back roads adventure up the Bruce from Lion's Head beach to Cabot Head or Jackson's Cove. And then back again! Riders had plenty of ready help along their routes from roadside marshals, snack crews, a medical assistance team, back up bike trailers and a rear-guard sweep at the ready. The snack booth butter tarts were reportedly a big en route hit.
Following their tour, riders were provided with a nourishing Lions Cub lunch and a Mudtown Brewery ale at the finish line.
Feedback from riders themselves was very encouraging: “…beautiful route!” “Well organized…and fabulous food!”
Biosphere Association Chair Elizabeth Thorn expressed her deep appreciation for the generous Gran Fondo sponsors, “In a small community, businesses are repeatedly called on to support good causes. We are very grateful the business community places a high value on the conservation and sustainable economic development goals of the Biosphere Association. Continuing support makes events like this feasible as do the hundred volunteers who contribute their time. Without the incredible leadership of Board member Mike Campbell, who volunteered his time to organize this wonderful event, it would not have happened.
Mike Campbell praised dozens of volunteers who provided baking, registration, site preparations, marshalling, feed stations and emergency services – and key supporters including the Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula which embraced the Biosphere Association’s new event and offered timely assistance.
Thanks to the Gravel Gran Fondo 2019 sponsors and participants. The over $25,000 proceeds will support local BPBA conservation, stewardship and education programs designed to help safeguard the clean waters, forests and biodiversity of the peninsula.
We’ve just heard that for 2020, our Municipality will again permit the use of Cabot Head Road. Plan early as our inaugural event sold out quickly and word is getting ‘round about an expanded Gravel Grand Fondo for fall 2020!
Caframo Chooses BPBA - CHARITY OF THE YEAR
We are delighted to announce that Wiarton based Caframo manufacturing company has selected the Biosphere Association as their charity of the year. All year employees fund raise by holding lunches, raffles and other events. We thank them for their efforts!!
Ethan Meleg's Fundraising Calendar
Board Communications Lead Tim Little worked with local photographer Ethan Meleg to produce a beautiful 2020 wall calendar that we then sold to raise money for the Biosphere. Thank you to Ethan for donating his beautiful photographs and invaluable guidance and for the many area merchants from Tobermory to Owen Sound who were our invaluable frontline sales crew.
Dark Skies Chair Mike Warkentin organizes a lottery to help raise funds to support Bayside Astronomy and staff training. Securing the prizes, the lottery license and managing ticket printing, distribution sales and reporting is a very time consuming but is worthwhile as it raised close to $5000 for us.
Tree Planting Gift Isobel Ganton
We gratefully acknowledge a generous gift by family and friends of Isobel to celebrate her 90th birthday. A growing legacy will be created through a local tree planting project.
For several years, the Biosphere Association has been making and selling Laura Secord style Easter eggs as a fundraiser. Many look forward to these chocolate Easter treats but sorry to say due to Covid-19 we have had to cancel this fundraiser. This means another $3000 drop in revenue!
Membership and Donations
Thank you to all who support the Biosphere Association with memberships and to our many volunteers, who help with tasks, large and small. Member volunteers, like Jeremy Thorn, who has taken over the huge task of doing the Associations bookkeeping and Arlene Kennedy, who continues in her role as Membership Coordinator, are the bedrock of our Association. Without all of you, we couldn't function!
We are always looking for more members and volunteers to continue our work. Membership is only $20. Please add your voice to support efforts on the Northern Bruce - to protect our coastal and interior wetlands, improve water quality, ensure forest connectivity and conserve our natural night sky. If you are interested in helping out, just give us a shout!
Here is the link to our online membership form (to pay with credit card):
To print a membership form and mail it in with a cheque, here is the link:
Please Consider Giving a Donation
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those that donated, big or small, to the Biosphere Association last year. Your support is critical to our continuing operations!
If you would like to give a donation to help us continue our conservation work here on the Bruce, you can follow this link to our website donation page:
Connect with Us
If you have any questions, want to learn more, or are interested in volunteering, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Our mailing address is:
Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association
P.O. Box 3, Tobermory, Ont. N0H 2R0
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