The St. Clair Region Conservation Authority (SCRCA) held its 2023 Annual General Meeting on March 10 in Point Edward, the first AGM held in-person since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Prior to the business portion of the meeting, Authority Chair, Mike Stark reflected on another year that highlighted the SCRCA’s “resiliency, creativity, and adaptability.
“For over two years, our Authority, like all other organizations had to adapt to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. After two years of isolation, social distancing, and masking, we slowly welcomed a return to normalcy in 2022,” said Stark.
“I would like to thank our board and staff for their dedication during this unprecedented time, and for your seamless transition back into pre-pandemic operations.”
The annual meeting marked the release of the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority’s 2022 Annual Report that highlighted the work the Authority staff and Board completed over the last year.
SCRCA officials say of note in 2022, the Authority:
– Operated its three regional campgrounds and Conservation Areas at full capacity for the first time since 2020 – proving to be popular destinations among local residents and visitors.
– Completed upgrades to several trail systems and Conservation Area amenities thanks to generous donations and funding programs. The upgrades will not only extend the life of trails, parking lots, and campsites, but will also create more accessible environments for everyone to enjoy and connect with the outdoors.
– Continued important work to protect and monitor the diversity of species found in the SCRCA watershed. Fish and mussel monitoring saw the collection, identification, and release of over 4,000 individual fish and 3,600 individual freshwater mussels.
– Experienced another record-breaking year for the Captive Hatch and Release Turtle program with over 2,800 turtle hatchlings released into the Sydenham River.
– Planted close to 55,000 trees and supported 36 stewardship projects throughout the watershed.
– Issued close to 300 permits and provided comments on 250 Planning Act applications to support local development in the St. Clair Region.
– Engaged over 20,000 students in conservation education thanks to offering both in-person and virtual program options.
– Approved a new Strategic Plan that will outline the Authority’s strategic direction and objectives over the next five years.
Implications associated with the recent legislative changes from the Government of Ontario, as part of the More Homes Built Faster Act were also noted by Stark.
“Despite adding our voice to the many who opposed the legislation, these changes will have implications to the services the Conservation Authority currently provides to our member Municipalities,” said Stark.
“We will continue to work with and foster a positive relationship with our provincial government and member Municipalities to support development in Ontario, while protecting our environment.”
Conservation Awards were presented during the meeting to celebrate and acknowledge the contributions of community members and organizations to the health of the St. Clair Region.
To help support the population of Endangered Spiny Softshell Turtles in the Sydenham River, biologists at the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority work with the Salthaven Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Centre, Upper Thames River Conservation Authority, and private landowners to rescue nests that are under imminent threat. Since 2019, Bob Walsh has donated an insurmountable number of hours aiding SCRCA biologists in turtle conservation and preservation. From dawn until dusk, throughout the month of June, Bob helps locate
at-risk nests and alerts biologists when nests are at risk of destruction. Bob’s altruistic nature, passion towards the safeguarding of biodiversity and the longevity of an endangered species within the SCRCA watershed has been vital to the success of the Authority’s Captive Hatch and Release Turtle program.
For the past two summer seasons, Mary Tizzard has volunteered with the SCRCA’s Conservation Areas department, assisting with maintenance and project work at Conservation Areas throughout the St. Clair Region. Mary has contributed almost 1,000 volunteer hours and during that time has helped staff with the maintenance of the Authority’s trail systems (e.g., mowing, trimming vegetation, trail widening, boardwalk and trail surface repairs), general site clean-up, and tree, shrub, and pollinator habitat planting. She also helped construct new boardwalks at both Coldstream and Clark Wright Conservation Areas.
Chris and Vivian Crump
Chris and Vivian Crump (The Crump Family Farm) are passionate about the environment and over the course of just a couple of years have completely reworked their family farm. In 2019, they installed a grassed waterway, a rock chute, and a series of wetlands to improve local habitat and prevent soil and nutrients from entering local waterways. Since then, they have planted over 3,000 trees on their property, and have adopted rotational grazing and cover crop practices. Vivian is the main operator of The Crump Family Farm, a local retail and market selling their own meat and eggs, as well as local honey and grains. Chris, a local contractor and Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA)-certified soil erosion contractor works with several local Conservation Authorities, Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS), and Ducks Unlimited Canada to help create habitat across southwestern Ontario by constructing wetlands and soil erosion control structures.
Elections were held for the 2023 positions of Authority Chair and Vice-chair.
Pat Brown, representing the Township of St. Clair was elected Chair of the SCRCA while Lorie Scott, who represents the Municipality of Lambton Shores was elected Vice-Chair.
The St. Clair Region Conservation Authority is located in southwestern Ontario and includes the Sydenham River watershed and smaller watersheds draining directly into southern Lake Huron, the St. Clair River and northeastern Lake St. Clair.
The Conservation Authority implements programs to reduce the risk to life and property from flooding and erosion and promote water and land stewardship, forestry, wildlife habitat creation, conservation education, and outdoor recreation.
For more information, visit our website at www.scrca.on.ca.