Monday, March 8, 2021

SCRCA: Faas reflects on ‘challenging’ year

The 2020 Annual General Meeting for the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority (SCRCA) was held on Thursday in Forest with Chair Joe Faas reflecting on what he considered “an interesting and somewhat challenging year.”

“Record floods impacted many communities across Ontario this year and highlighted the integral role Conservation Authorities hold in flood management and floodplain regulation,” stated Faas in a media release.

“As a result, it was shocking when provincial transfer payments that support these important programs were cut by 50%.”

“Regardless, we maintained our important flood management, planning and regulation services to our member municipalities and I am happy to report that we are actively engaged with provincial representatives while the Conservation Authorities Act continues to be reviewed.”

The annual meeting also marked the release of the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority’s 2019 Annual Report that highlighted the work the Authority staff and board completed over the year.

In 2019, the Authority:

– Issued 40 flood bulletins over the course of 15 different flood events.
Planted over 68,000 trees throughout the watershed.

– Engaged and educated over 12,000 students through the SCRCA’s Conservation Education programs.

– Was granted $8 million in federal funding to help support shoreline protection projects along Lake Huron and the St. Clair River.

– Moved towards a more streamlined regulatory process to support provincial priorities and lower permit approval timelines.

– Released almost 800 turtle hatchlings into the Sydenham River.

– Began the Detailed Engineering and Design Plan phase for management of the remaining areas of contaminated sediment in the St. Clair River.

– Provided both technical and financial support to local landowners interested in implementing stewardship projects on their properties.

– Secured over $3 million in additional funding to support SCRCA initiatives.

“We are certainly thankful for our partners and their continued support of the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority and our programs,” Faas added.

Faas, representing the Regional Municipality of Chatham-Kent was re-elected Chair of the SCRCA while Larry Gordon, who represents the Village of Point Edward was re-elected Vice Chair.

Conservation Awards were also presented during the meeting to celebrate and acknowledge the contributions of community members to the health of the St. Clair Region.

Al and Lisa Nogueira

Al and Lisa Nogueira are conservation-minded private landowners who own property on the Sydenham River, north of Wallaceburg in St. Clair Township.

Since 2007, they have retired over 3 hectares (8 acres) of agricultural land to implement best management practices.

In total, Al and Lisa have planted 6,000 trees on their property (3,000 in 2007 and 3,000 in 2019) along the north branch of the Sydenham River.

With low forest cover in the St. Clair Region, their willingness to take three hectares of agricultural farmland out of production for the purpose of naturalization was welcomed by the Authority.

These tree-planting projects will also benefit the aquatic health of the Sydenham River.

In addition to their tree planting efforts, Al and Lisa Nogueira are fighting against invasive Phragmites that have encroached on their property.

They contracted the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority to control Phragmites located in a gully on their property.

In addition, on their own accord, they have incorporated other Phragmites control practices to prevent re-establishment of this invasive grass.

Samuel Somerville and Austen Wong

This past summer, the SCRCA was fortunate enough to have Samuel (Sam) Somerville and Austen Wong volunteer with the Biology department and assist with summer fieldwork.

With staffing challenges and a full schedule of monitoring and data collection, the department welcomed the extra set of hands to help conduct fish and turtle monitoring, complete data entry, and plan outreach events.

Sam Somerville

Sam Somerville approached the SCRCA this past spring in hopes of securing a volunteer position with the organization to increase his skills before entering the fourth year of his Environmental Science program at the University of Guelph.

A resident of Strathroy, his strong work ethic and willingness to learn were assets to the SCRCA this past summer.

Austen Wong

Austen Wong developed his passion for environmental science in Grade 9 which has followed him throughout his high school career and into his first-year studies in Biology at Western University.

Austen volunteered part-time with the SCRCA throughout the summer to gain valuable experience in the field of biological sciences and to lend a helping hand to the SCRCA team.

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