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Local residents recognized at Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority awards (6 photos)

Among the award recipients were six-year-old Ryan Marques of Bradford, Ziemba Farms in the Holland Marsh and Donny Crowder and Gail Loder of Innisfil

On Friday, Nov. 26, local residents were recognized at the 2021 Lake Simcoe Conservation Authority Awards. 

Eight award recipients were presented with the Healthy Water award for 2021. Projects awarded in this category help to improve, support and protect water quality and quantity, stormwater management, water conservation, streambank/shoreline restoration/stabilization, low impact development techniques and source water protection. 

Award Category: Healthy Water

Jim Wood, watershed-wide
Jim recognizes the contamination risk that leaked or spilled petroleum products pose to sources of drinking water and has assisted with fuel policy development, spoken at source water protection outreach events, and instructed on fuel storage best management practices and effective risk management measures. In 2019 and 2020 Jim conducted workshops with fuel providers to increase awareness & demonstrate the importance of protecting local water
sources, identifying the location of the most vulnerable areas (municipal water wells and water intakes) within the fuel distributors’ jurisdiction. Jim was the perfect ambassador as he was in direct contact with key industry players on a regular basis and was seen as a familiar and trusted source. He also shared best practices for fuel handling and storage to the hundreds of homeowners and businesses that store fuel in vulnerable areas. Due to the success
of this pilot project, two additional workshops are scheduled for 2021 and Jim has plans to hold similar workshops across the province in the future.

Katherine Sprigg, Town of East Gwillimbury
Katherine recognized invasive water soldier growing in the 0.4 hectare pond on her property in the summer of 2019. Water Soldier is an aquatic invasive plant native to Europe and northwest Asia, first discovered in the Trent-Severn Waterway in 2008. Due to coordinated efforts of monitoring and management, water soldier was successfully eradicated from the Black River. Prevention is the most cost-effective method of dealing with this invasive species. Several
organizations and volunteers participated in a volunteer day that included invasive species education and the physical removal of water soldier from the pond. A herbicide application was used to address the remaining water soldier left over in the pond and the project aimed to prevent an invasion of water soldier from re-occurring in the Black River or any other tributaries of Lake Simcoe while also working towards eradication of water soldier in Ontario. In the
summer of 2020, Katherine reported that no plants have re-emerged or are growing again.

Eek Farms, Township of King
Farming 90 acres in the Holland Marsh, Eek Farms has planted riparian buffers and helped stabilize the eroding banks along a drainage ditch and river on their property. They have also participated in the Authority’s DIY(Do-It-Yourself) tree planting program and have planted their own seedlings along the bank. Since 2016, Eek Farms has used a multi species mix of cover crops for erosion control to suppress weeds and improve their overall soil health by building up
microbes. A Tile Outlet Control Structure was also installed in 2019 to help control and manage the water on their field, as the control structure is closed during the winter and early spring to help keep moisture and nutrients on the field. During the late spring, summer and fall, the control structure is set for optimal plant growth and can be closed during rain events to reduce loading to the municipal drains, allowing water to slowly drain into the waterway.

Lefroy Harbour, Town of Innisfil
Lefroy Harbour purchased their first Seabin two years ago to help keep Lake Simcoe clean. A Seabin is like a “trash skimmer” that moves up and down in the lake collecting all marine litter and debris in a catch bag that can be emptied daily. As water is sucked in from the surface, it passes through the Seabin, leaving litter and debris trapped in a catch bag. In 2020, the Great Lakes Plastics clean-up teamed up with Boating Ontario, the University of Toronto and marine
operators to offer a Seabin program. Lefroy Harbour was able to implement a second Sea Bin and has committed to doing a monthly intensive waste characterization in which Lefroy Harbour ships all the contents from the Seabin in a cooler to the trash team at the University of Toronto so they can analyze the contents.

Town of East Gwillimbury
The Town of East Gwillimbury partnered with the Authority on two Low Impact Development retrofit projects in 2020 and 2021. Both projects included the resurfacing of public parking areas with the implementation of a bio-retention swale that captures, filters and infiltrates stormwater runoff from the newly paved surface areas. These projects included the planting of over 300 native shrubs and will help infiltrate 618 cubic metres of water every year and will also
amount to a 0.39 kg/year reduction of phosphorus.

Goodyear Farms, Township of Brock
In 2019 Goodyear Farms, in partnership with the Authority, commissioned a study to reduce sediment and agricultural runoff from flowing into Lake Simcoe from their 340-hectare farm in Beaverton. A total of nine best management practices were installed by the landowner on the farm that included using cover crops and buffer plantings, installing two wet ponds for water control and irrigation, four water and sediment control basins to help control and filter sediment, and linear ditches to remove all but three outlets from the farm. Trees and shrubs were also installed in 2020 and 2021 and the landowner is continually making improvements to this property.

Kettleby Valley Camp, Township of King
Together with various partners, Kettleby Valley Camp restored a section of Kettleby Creek that runs through the camp property and removed an aging dam structure that was a barrier to fish migration. Kettleby Creek is a coldwater stream that supports Brook Trout and historical records have shown the presence of Redside Dace, a species of fish listed as endangered under the federal Species-at-Risk Act. The removal of the barrier will have a positive impact on
Redside Dace habitat in Kettleby Creek and beyond, allowing their unimpeded migration through the ecosystem. Reconnecting rivers and streams through barrier removal is also important for the resiliency of the Redside Dace population in the watershed. Enhancing fish habitat can improve the genetic stock of fish populations and can reduce the thermal impacts that dams and barriers have on these populations. Reducing thermal impacts caused by barriers on streams will also build resiliency in our watershed to a warming climate. Natural watercourses, with their vegetated flood plains and meandering channels, help to slow the rate of water flow and provide storage, thus controlling peak water flows and velocities in the creek. These naturalized areas provide ideal habitat for all life processes of healthy fish populations including reproduction and rearing habitats over time.

Lauri Hoeg, Georgina Island/Watershed Wide
Lauri Hoeg is a strong voice on keeping our water healthy and its importance to our lives, especially Lake Simcoe. She has supported many school initiatives, including visits to Georgina Island to take part in teaching circles. She has been instrumental in deepening student understanding of indigenous ways of knowing through her work as an artist and she infuses traditional teachings of the importance of water as the lifeblood to the Chippewas of Georgina
Island First Nation. Lauri beautifully articulates the importance of water, especially Lake Simcoe, and learning to protect the water. She has spoken several times at the School Board about the deep interconnection of all living things, with a focus on plants and water. Lauri’s work, passion and teachings about water have a positive impact on the health and quality of Lake Simcoe and its watershed and extends beyond the school board and into initiatives in the community.

Award Category: Healthy Land
A total of 12 recipients are receiving the Healthy Land award this year. Projects awarded in this
category improve/ support/ protect:
• Natural heritage features including woodlands, wetlands, and their functions
• Wildlife habitat
• Biodiversity & ecological restoration
• Soil erosion (cover crops)
• Trail development

Steve and Linda Pugh, Township of Uxbridge
Over 15 years ago, Steve and Linda Pugh planted hundreds of trees on the east side of their property. Seeing the success of these plantings made the Pugh’s want to add more. In the Spring of 2021, they planted an additional 2,850 trees, adding over one hectare of new forest in Durham Region. The Pughs wanted to do their part for the environment and leave a legacy for their family. Steve and Linda understand the many benefits that trees provide to their local
landscape. Once established, their tree plantings will create wildlife corridors, and help reduce soil and water erosion, while also improving water quality in the Lake Simcoe watershed.

Siegfried and Tamara Jung, Sunderland
Siegfried and Tamara are a father and daughter team who participated in the Authority's 2021 spring tree planting program. They planted a total of 4,350 trees across their 2 properties, creating nearly two hectares of new forest cover in Durham Region. Siegfried and Tamara are also very busy maintaining a chicken coop, large garden, orchard, agricultural fields and forest! Siegfried wanted to leave a permanent, positive mark on the landscape in Canada - the tree
planting will not only help reduce wind and soil erosion, but it will also help to improve the water quality in the Lake Simcoe watershed. By extending the forest cover, they have increased the forest canopy and connectivity on their properties.

Danielle and Allyson Flynn, Township of King
Danielle and her mother Allyson Flynn took part in the Authority’s tree planting program in 2019 and 2021. In 2019, 2,300 tree seedlings were planted and in 2021 another 4,300 were added to their family property in King City. These plantings contribute to the creation of over three hectares of new forest cover in York Region. A windbreak and three new forest blocks were added to preserve soils and enlarge an existing forest block on the property. Their new
forest will help in the fight against climate change by sequestering carbon and producing oxygen.

Brian and Kristal McDonald, Town of East Gwillimbury
Brian and Kristal McDonald planted 5,250 tree seedlings in the spring of 2021 on their property in Queensville. They also planted 50 wildlife shrubs along a seasonal water course running through their field. Lastly, 150 sumac and 10 more wildlife shrubs were planted on an old,
steep, grass meadow area. This project was one of the Authority’s largest projects in the spring and will contribute to wildlife habitat, carbon sequestration and erosion control. The McDonalds added approximately 2.6 hectares of new forest in York Region.

Karat King. Doug, Rich and Nick Weening, Holland Marsh
Karat King farms over 220 acres on muck soil in the Holland Marsh. They have planted cover crops to help improve poor soil and prevent wind and water erosion, increase nutrient retention/replenishment, improve soil compaction and weed control. In August 2019, Karat King also installed a closed loop wash water treatment system for their vegetable processing plant. The vegetables are run over a de-dirter to remove as many solids as possible before they
are washed with reused water and finally rinsed by potable water at the end of a barrel washer. The wash water is treated so it can be reused at the beginning of the wash cycle. Any excess water is stored in a tank, treated and used for other purposes, such as cleaning equipment. This extensive system reduces the amount of water used in the vegetable washing process by re-using the wash water in the system and preventing discharge from the processing plant.

Catherine McNeely, Town of Georgina
Operating under the philosophy that “what goes into the land around the lake, also goes into the lake”, Catherine is a life-long seasonal resident of Georgina, who began transforming her lakeshore property from the usual, run-of-the-mill cottage lawn, into a haven of biodiversity, indigenous trees, bushes, shrubs, and flowers. She avoided pesticides and monocultural grasses in favour of pollinator-friendly plants & grasses that would encourage a biologically diverse,
sustainable mini-ecosphere and along her shoreline, she planted indigenous grasses, plants and flowers to attract and feed butterflies, bees, insects, and birds. Catherine discontinued using gas-powered lawnmowers and leaf-blowers to limit airborne pollutants and has planted new trees on her property to replace ash trees lost to disease. Catherine continues to improve her shoreline and property, and has seen almost 50 different species of birds, foxes, rabbits and
many other animals since making these changes. She educates friends and neighbours on
planting indigenous species and provides advice on plants that add biodiversity to their gardens
and lawns.

Donny Crowder and Gail Loder, Town of Innisfil
Donny and Gail are active partners in their community, and are owners of HotBox Huts, giving them a great opportunity to share their environmental message about the importance of protecting Lake Simcoe and the surrounding area with both locals and those visiting. Donny and Gail have adopted a section of Highway 89 and regularly co-ordinate cleanups of this area with the help of local volunteers. Each year, Donny and Gail also clear out leftover garbage and
abandoned ice fishing huts from the winter to help keep Lake Simcoe clean. In winter, they host a YouTube Channel with daily ice safety updates and are featured on local television as the voice of local environmental supporters. They’ve set up a community garden producing local sustainable produce and provide a ‘hands on’ opportunity for families in the area. They have planted over 500 trees and seedlings along the shore of a small pond and throughout their
property to help nutrients settle and filter before flowing into the lake. Donny and Gail have also worked with the Conservation Authority to install a box culvert across a creek on their property to allow them to travel to the rear portion of the property without impacting the creek bed and protecting the surrounding natural habitat.

Marie Rolfe, Town of Georgina
In the spring of 2020, Marie wanted to enhance the wildlife habitat on her newly acquired property. Apart from a couple of fruit trees, the property had very little in terms of pollinator friendly plants. With a desire to learn about native plants and how to naturalize her property, Marie worked with a local nursery and the Authority to remove invasive species, amend the compacted soil, and plant a variety of native plants to attract birds and pollinators. Since completing her initial project, Marie has completed a second similar project in the spring of 2021 and is currently working on a third in her continued effort to convert her property into an oasis of native species for the benefit of wildlife. Her projects not only have involved planting a wide variety of native wildflowers, shrubs and grasses, but also the installation of habitat structures such as bird and bat boxes. Marie shares her new-found knowledge of native species and the projects being undertaken on the property to help raise awareness about the impacts to the local environment.

Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust, Township of King
The MapleCross Nature Reserve in King Township is over 32 hectares in size and contains a pine plantation with over 10,000 trees, a wetland, a natural forest and a riparian corridor. In the spring of 2019, volunteers helped plant 400 native deciduous trees and shrubs. By undertaking a Grassland Restoration Project that would provide a breeding habitat for Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark (both threatened bird species), 2.4 hectares of horse pasture was restored to a
Tallgrass Prairie habitat. Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark are ground nesting grassland birds that have specific habitat requirements that only allow them to breed in prairies and grasslands. They have resorted to nesting in hay fields when other suitable habitat is unavailable, but unfortunately, the first harvest of hay usually happens during nesting season and destroys the nests and young birds. Tallgrass Prairies are a rare ecosystem with only remnant patches remaining in southern Ontario. The decline of this ecosystem has led to the decline of species that inhabit it. This project began in the spring of 2020 and involved removing
fences and invasive trees that were separating old horse pastures, creating a contiguous habitat. Large tarps were used to solarize areas of the grassland and 975 native herbaceous plants were installed. A prescribed burn occurred in March 2021, as fire is a natural way to destroy non-native plants and allow fire-tolerant native plants to establish. Tallgrass Prairies and their inhabitants have evolved with fire, and it is a crucial process for mitigating succession and shrub/invasive plant encroachment. This property will be used to educate the public on different ecosystems and to see & learn about tallgrass prairies. Some good news to share: Eastern Meadowlark and Bobolink have been seen for the first time on the property since the March 2021 burn!

Ziemba Farms, Holland Marsh
Ziemba Farms is a vegetable producer in the Holland Marsh and currently farms 100 acres. In 2020, the farmer planted cover crops for wind and water erosion control, to prevent soil loss and weed control. They also installed a de-dirter on their carrot harvester to help improve the system’s efficiency and prevent soil from clogging it. The farmer installed a third de-dirter on the harvester where the vegetables are first pulled from the ground and are covered with the
most dirt. This new de-dirter will complement the other two de-dirters and will knock off any excess dirt from the vegetables immediately when they are harvested and leave that soil to fall back onto the field. This process removes any excess dirt that would otherwise be left on the vegetable and rinsed off during the vegetable wash water treatment process.

Town of Innisfil
The Town of Innisfil has partnered with the Authority on three restoration projects over the last two years. The first project was at Circle Park, located only 200 metres from Lake Simcoe. This area was saturated with water 90 per cent of the time and was transformed into two new wetlands. These wetlands helped address the area’s drainage problems, while also creating a site for turtle  nesting and incorporating an osprey platform for the community to enjoy. Future
plantings will further green up the site. The second project was located at the Town of Innisfil works yard where trees and shrubs were planted to locally enhance biodiversity, improve water quality and beautify the area for the public to use in the future. The final project was located in the Innisfil Creek's subwatershed where more than 34 hectares of drainage collected by road swales outlets to Park Road. The ditches and the outfall channel were re-graded and select culverts were replaced to improve drainage. In addition, the external drainage area was diverted and conveyed to an existing outfall channel. The goal of this project was to incorporate a new wetland feature, enhance other natural heritage features like grasslands, native trees and shrub plantings, and nesting structures. The total area restored by the wetland feature is approximately 0.5 hectares and the other natural features make up the remaining 1.5 hectares.

Innisfree Ltd., Town of Innisfil

The landowners at Degrassi Point take great pride in preserving the history and ecological value of their property and for years have been working to maintain and restore the rare oak-pine savannah ecosystem that exists there. Along with forest management plans and invasive species removal, Innisfree Ltd. has conducted prescribed burns over the years as an effective way to suppress competition from non-native vegetation and stimulate seed growth of the
long-dormant grassland species. Historical records indicate that the original savannah at Innisfree was 24 hectares in size. But by 1904, when the property was purchased, it had been reduced to 8 hectares. By 1998, when rehabilitation efforts began, only 1.6 hectares remained. Today, the area is back to roughly 9 hectares of grasses with scattered red oak and white pine, part of which contains native flowering plants and grasses that are unique to the remnant
tallgrass savannah. This past spring, the savannah was burned once more in the continued effort by the landowners at Innisfree to expand this fragile ecosystem and return it to its former prominence.

Award Category: Healthy Community
Six award recipients are being presented with the Healthy Community Award this year. Projects awarded in this category increase community connections and participation by:
• Expanding demographic and geographic reach of engagement through events, fairs,
festivals, tree plantings, clean-ups, community programs, significant traditional
media/social media coverage, etc.
• Sharing knowledge and information through campaigns, media coverage, etc.
• Delivering innovative environmental education programs or services to schools,
students, or the community at large.

Ryan Marques, Bradford West Gwillimbury
Ryan Marques is only 6 years old and for the last two years has taken it upon himself to clean up the local parks, streets and ponds around Bradford West Gwillimbury. He understands the importance of keeping our lands clean and healthy for the animals and us for future generations. It upsets him to see litter and fears it will harm local animals. Ryan asks to be taken out to pick up trash and shows tremendous dedication to our environment. Despite his young age, it is evident that he truly cares for and loves our planet earth.

The Sutton Beavers, Scouts & Guides, Georgina
In May 2021, the Sutton Beavers, Scouts, and Guides built and donated 28 turtle nesting cages to protect turtle nests from predators. This group recognizes the importance of protecting turtle nests from predators that often dig up the eggs and have learned that all Ontario turtle species are at risk. As a result, the group spent time building the cages to share with the Authority and others to help support local turtle populations. Since receiving the nests, nearly all have been put to use in the watershed. Since one nest can contain dozens of eggs, their work will contribute to sustaining local turtle populations for years to come.

Tom Lewis, Town of Newmarket
Tom Lewis has worked as the Outdoor Education Specialist at Pickering College for many years. Countless children from kindergarten through to grade twelve have benefited from his knowledge and expertise, as well as his passion for the outdoors. Tom has led many adventures, during every season. From hiking, making trails, planting trees, maintaining grounds, tracking animals, documenting invasive species and developing campsites, Tom has touched the lives of many students, including international boarding students, who otherwise might not have had a chance to experience Canada at its pristine, natural core. Tom is a beloved teacher and mentor, who works tirelessly to ensure that his outdoor lessons support and enhance the core curricula at the various grade levels. Tom has retired this year, but his legacy lives on in the incredible program he developed and maintained for so many years.

Claire Malcolmson, Watershed Wide
As the Executive Director of the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition, Claire Malcolmson has led many initiatives to protect Lake Simcoe and our watershed. She was instrumental in the launch of the“Protect our Plan” campaign whose goal was to educate watershed residents, build popular support, and start conversations about the importance of the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan and its review. Claire, together with her team of volunteers, travelled across the watershed sharing factsheets, getting petition signatures and engaging with at least one community group per month in educational forums. Topics in the forum included discussion on the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan, “Hot Topics”, forest protection, protecting nature from development, climate change and the impacts of development. As the province addressed the Conservation Authorities Act, Claire together with the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition strongly supported
Conservation Authorities, recognizing the critical importance of having watershed experts review land use planning decisions that affect the environment.

Aileen Barclay, Town of Newmarket
Aileen oversees an extremely active Facebook group called York Region Nature, which she began in January 2015. It now has over 2,200 members and hundreds of posts each month. Through this group, she promotes respectful appreciation and knowledge of nature, which is key to helping restore the watershed and our planet. Social media can be a breeding ground for misinformation and Aileen not only uses this outlet to correct inaccuracies, but she is active in a variety of social spheres, helping to correct misinformation and speak for nature. She doesn’t shy away from challenging what can be contentious topics – like feeding wildlife, dogs off leash in natural areas, our perspectives on the Lymantria dispar dispar moth reactions, and more. As
an ecologist and sustainable gardening expert by trade, she's passionate, knowledgeable and dedicated to promoting the importance of our natural world and our place in it, making a difference in the lives of those in our watershed.

East Gwillimbury Environmental Advisory Committee
Led by Mark Goldsworthy, this group of more than 60 East Gwillimbury residents participated in a “No Mow May” initiative where residents did not mow their lawns for the month of May to help protect bees, butterflies and other pollinator insects. Long grasses are beneficial for the biodiversity of the ecosystem and are crucial for insects who are seeking their first food sources of the season. With growing concern over the bee population, this is one-way residents came
together to make a difference. In addition, the Environmental Advisory Committee also participates in anti-litter events, battery collections and textile recycling each year.

Award Category: Distinguished Achievement Award
There is one award recipient for this year’s Distinguished Achievement Award. The award is presented to individuals or groups for noteworthy achievements in innovation and/or leadership in the field of conservation (ex. significant partnerships, industry information, and new technology).

Steve Schaefer, Watershed Wide
Steve Schaefer is a founding partner of SCS Consulting Group. He has over 30 years of experience in the management and leadership of land development related engineering from initial planning through to construction. Steve is considered a leader in stormwater management and has worked with several conservation authorities and the province to advance stormwater related initiatives on behalf of the development industry. He has previously served as a Board member on the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) and as Vice President of the Lake Simcoe Conservation Foundation Board. Steve has been a strong advocate for the implementation of the Authority’s leading stormwater and Low Impact Development policies, evident from the countless examples throughout Lake Simcoe. Industry champions, like Steve, are critical to the successful implementation of advanced policies, like the Authority’s Stormwater Policy. He continues to maintain a strong industry presence through participation in numerous BILD committees.

Award Category: Ernie Crossland Young Conservationist

There is one award recipient for the Ernie Crossland Young Conservationist Award this year. The award is presented to individuals and groups that are 30 years of age or younger and are involved in a significant leadership role in a conservation project or with a conservation-based group or organization.

Zoe Bystrov, City of Barrie

Zoe Bystrov is a 7th grade student from Barrie, Ontario, and the youth leader of a community-based group Youth for Lake Simcoe. From a young age, she has been passionate about nature, wildlife, and the environment. Since moving to Barrie in 2017, she has identified the need to do something to protect Lake Simcoe and the watershed from waste accumulation and litter build-up, as well as to raise more awareness among youth on the importance of Lake Simcoe and its health. Out of this concern, she founded Youth for Lake Simcoe in June 2020, a local group organizing regular clean-ups of the Lake Simcoe shoreline and the surrounding watershed. Under Zoe’s leadership, Youth for Lake Simcoe has been dedicating its time and effort to keep Lake Simcoe clean. Recognizing the importance of Lake Simcoe to the community, the group’s main goal is to be a strong youth voice on issues related to the local environment, as well as to
engage and lead youth in awareness and clean-up initiatives that ultimately help protect the lake. In 2020, the group completed 21 clean-ups collecting 20 standard bags of recyclable items, and 24 bags of garbage. These initiatives have continued in 2021 resulting in 7 clean-ups, 10 bags of recyclable materials and 9 bags of garbage collected. In the future, this group is planning to continue their clean-ups on a regular basis, as well as to develop education materials for schools on the importance of Lake Simcoe, and its health.

To date, her Youth For Lake Simcoe group has now carried out 34 clean-up days, collecting 75.5 bags of trash.

“You would not believe what we find – plastic bottles, plastic straws, poop bags, even dirty soiled diapers,” said Bystov, noting that some of the items will take hundreds of years to biodegrade.

“We have to protect Lake Simcoe,” she said. “There’s no garbage fairy. There’s not a single mystical creature that will pick up the garbage…”

Award Category: George R. Richardson Conservation Award of Honour
Awarded to one individual (or a couple) who has demonstrated significant leadership, accomplishments and dedication to the health of the watershed and/or the field of conservation.

Rosemary and John Dunsmore, Oro-Medonte
Rosemary and John have dedicated nearly 60 years to the health of the watershed through many actions and initiatives they have been involved in throughout their lives. Rosemary, as a child, loved being in nature and took on the values of a Girl Guide to heart. She led her troop with stewardship values dear to her heart as they planted many trees in Shanty Bay. John has been a volunteer weather observer for Environment Canada for 47 years, taking temperature and rainfall/snow readings twice daily and then reporting them to Environment Canada.

Over the years John and Rosemary, replaced invasive Manitoba and Willows trees for Bur Oak, Red Oak, Maple, and Hickory trees throughout their property. John used selective cutting techniques for over 30 years to help manage their forest. They also reforested pasteurize hills, fenced out cattle to protect young saplings, manually controlled weeds like poison ivy and hung bird and bat boxes annually. Blue birds have now nested on their property for over 25 years and Orioles are frequent visitors at their feeder too. Rosemary and John also planted eighty thousand trees from 2011 to 2014 to reforest 99 acres of their farm providing immense benefits to the environment including helping to control water run-off and erosion, clean the air of carbon dioxide, combat climate change and provide more habitat for wildlife and birds. As part of their environmentally conscious and sustainable lifestyle, Rosemary and John did not use hormones in their cattle, or insecticide on their vegetables, nor did they water their lawn.

They kept their shoreline natural and did everything they could to preserve the natural heritage of their property. They didn’t stop there, they also donated financially to help acquire a shoreline property that they wanted to protect in perpetuity because of the hydrological and natural heritage features and functions of the lands. They received an award of merit submission from the Province of Ontario. Rosemary, a founding member of the Oro Trail Club, led many hikes and bike rides as well as helped maintain a section of the trail for several years with John.

Rosemary spent nearly 6 years lobbying Oro council, organizing support, and fundraising for the Rail Trail, an all-season recreational trail that would eventually connect Barrie to Orillia along an abandoned rail line. In 2002, Rosemary and John built a storm-water pond to catch the runoff from their barnyard before it reached Kempenfelt Bay, allowing the water to seep into the ground and be filtered instead. In 2011, they donated 114 acres of land that included elm, beech, ash, and butternut trees, as well as multiple wetland features as an ecological gift so that the area will be protected and kept natural for future generations to enjoy. Most recently, Rosemary has organized neighbourhood spring road clean-ups, and she and John continue to do weekly roadside garbage pick-ups along a two kilometre stretch of the road.

They continue to cut and bag phragmites along the North Shore Trail in Barrie and are a strong voice in reducing, re-using, and recycling. Their everyday lives showcase how we can live in harmony with nature and the importance of protecting the natural environment. Rosemary and John are a true inspiration and their commitment, dedication, and enthusiasm to care for the land and the community have made an enormous impact in our watershed. They are a strong
voice for environmental conservation and their efforts to preserve and protect the environment will be the legacy they leave for us to carry on.

Past Winners of the George R. Richardson Conservation Award of Honour:
2020 – not awarded
2019 – not awarded
2018 – Sylvia Bowman
2017 – Lorrie Mackness (posthumous)
2016 – Annabel Slaight
2015 – Grandmother Josephine Mandamin
2014 – John Tran (posthumous)
2013 – John McCutcheon
2012 – John Sibbald
2011 – Dave Tomlinson
2010 – Debby Beatty
2009 – Paul Harpley
2008 – Dave Kerwin
2007 – Bob Bowles
2006 – Dr. George Connell
2005 – Angus Morton
2004 – Tom Taylor
2003 – Charles Wilson
2002 – Ted Bagley (posthumous)
2001 – Ken Nicholls
2000 – J.O. Dales
1999 – Ernie Crossland
1998 – George R. Richardson

Natasha Philpott

About the Author: Natasha Philpott

Natasha is the Editor for BradfordToday and InnisfilToday. She graduated from the Media Studies program at The University of Guelph-Humber. She lives in Bradford with her husband, two boys and two cats.
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