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Going green: Momentum builds for environmental action

in Environment/Opinion by

Earth Hour was on March 30. Earth Day was April 22. Earth Week was April 21-27. But ask Pat Warren, chair of the Kawartha Lakes Environmental Advisory Committee (KLEAC), and she’ll have this to say: “Every day is Earth Day.”

She’s not alone in this belief. Momentum is building for environmental action. Over the past six months Council, City staff, and environmental heroes of all ages have been stepping up.

Here are 10 environmental initiatives worth celebrating.

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Water: How farmers meet the challenge of too little, too much

in Community/Environment by
Leslie Dyment, at Crow Hill Farm in Cameron.

Farmers have been concerned about water issues for as long as human beings have been growing crops. From the irrigation ditches of the ancient near east, to the flooding of ancient Egypt, the lack of water, or too much of it, has shaped the rhythms of farming life.

As a result, farmers throughout history have developed various strategies related to water. Some of these—like the worship of ancient fertility gods and goddesses—seem a little odd to us now. Some, like tile drainage, are still practiced but are somewhat controversial. Others, such as the use of terrace farming and dams, continue to be used today.

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Grading the health of our waterways with local experts

in Environment by
Grading the health of our waterways with local experts

Why are the City of Kawartha Lakes waterways important? The City’s “Integrated Community Sustainability Plan” asks and answers the question. Our municipality is “renowned for its 250 lakes” and is known for its “headwater streams and river systems originating on the Oak Ridges Moraine and the Canadian Shield.” Furthermore, “the Trent-Severn waterway is central to the Kawartha Lakes . . . linking the vibrant communities that rely on these unique water resources for tourism and commerce, recreation [and] drinking water.”

“Naturally beautiful,” are the first words of the City’s Vision Statement for its Strategic Plan, which sets as one of its three major strategic goals “a healthy environment.” So, clearly, the current and future health of our lakes and the waters that feed them matter.

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Dandelion days: What will you have to drink?

in Environment/Opinion by

It was a warm spring day at our food co-op as we ran the annual plant exchange. Gardeners with overflowing yards had dropped off excess plants and cuttings, and now those in need of greenery were choosing which plants they would like to take home.

“Excuse me,” said a hesitant voice, “I’m looking for some help with dandelions.” It was one of the neighbours from down the block. “I really need to find a way to deal with all the dandelions in my grass.”

My colleague and I shared a glance. “Well,” I said, “You could always leave them. They are one of the earliest sources of pollen for bees, and they are fun for the kids to pick. You could also eat their leaves.”

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Water in plastic: Who’s most responsible in the drive for endless growth?

in Environment/Opinion by
Water in plastic: Who’s most responsible in the drive for endless growth?

It was a peaceful climate justice protest organized by a high school student inspired by activist Greta Thunberg. A man approached us to say he fully supported what we were doing; and in the next breath said he hoped we didn’t think the carbon tax was going to make a difference. A fellow protester asked him what approach we should take: “Reduce, reuse and recycle. Just like we’ve always done.” Our visitor then jumped into his car and drove away.

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Kawartha Lakes looking at new alternatives to reduce environmental footprint

in Environment/Municipal by
Kawartha Lakes looking at new alternatives to reduce environmental footprint
Councillor Kathleen Seymour-Fagan has proposed a possible Styrofoam ban.

A motion brought forward by Councillor Kathleen Seymour-Fagan to Committee of the Whole on May 7 proposed looking at a possible Styrofoam ban. The memo recommended that Kawartha Lakes staff conduct a study surrounding the feasibility of a ban and bring a report back to Council by the end of this year.

“It’s time that we do something. We can’t ban what’s coming in from external sources, such as online retailers, but we can ban what’s being used and sold directly in our municipality. It all ends up in the landfill,” commented Councillor Seymour-Fagan.

“I own a restaurant and there are options to ban Styrofoam. Part of our Strategic Plan is a healthy environment, and this is part of a healthy environment. It’s time we take a leadership role in change.”

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‘We want change:’ Student activists demand climate change action in strike

in Environment by
Several major cities across Canada saw climate strikes similar to this one. Photo: Mallory Cramp-Waldinsperger.

They may not be old enough to vote, but a group of students made their voices loud and clear in today’s climate strike. What began as a handful of Central Senior Public School students gathering at Victoria Park quickly grew to a swarm of approximately 70 protesters.

As they marched down Kent Street in downtown Lindsay today, the students, accompanied by several adult supporters carried handmade signs with slogans like “The sea is rising, so are we,” and “Planet over profit.”

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Marsh at Colborne and Hwy 35 formed while development stalled

in Environment/Opinion by
Marsh at Colborne and Hwy 35 formed while development stalled

Most residents of Lindsay are well aware of the construction efforts taking place at Colborne street and highway 35. Talk of a new Walmart, along with plans for more housing is making this a hot topic.

However, it is fair to say that many people are probably unaware of the finer details of the whole matter.

When topsoil was removed from the site some 10-15 years ago, a layer of clay from beneath the ground was exposed, which allowed spring rainwater to pool and accumulate. Over time, this formed a small marsh, which has now become home to numerous species of plants and wildlife. Some of these species are plants like Asters, Reeds, Horsetails and Water Plantain. In addition, Raccoons, Muskrats and Coyotes have also chosen to call the marsh home.

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For the birds — and for people who want birds

in Environment by

Two approaches to birding: 1. Go to where the birds are. 2. Get the birds to come to you.

A few weeks ago Rob Stavinga, whose day-job is watershed resources technician with Kawartha Conservation but whose full-time passion is birds, demonstrated the first. He led two groups on “owl prowls” at Ken Reid Conservation Area, where, as of January, 2019, a total of 176 bird species have been reported.

Last week he addressed that second approach. After a nudge from his wife, he reluctantly put down his binoculars (he’d been checking out redpolls at his feeders) and made his way to Ops Community Centre to present a “Backyard Birding” workshop, one of a number of educational events being sponsored by the Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust.

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Burnt River grapples with flooding as Ford slashes funding

in Environment by
Burnt River flooding continues. Photo: Geoff Coleman.

Flooding in the Burnt River and Fenelon Falls area continues, as sandbags are filled for resident pickup at the Burnt River Works Yard. Meanwhile, the PC government under Premier Doug Ford has slashed flood funding by 50 per cent to the conservation authorities that do this work. While the Burnt River area is not under Kawartha Conservation’s purview, the Fenelon Falls area is.

The Gull and Black rivers are at very high levels due to snowmelt and heavy precipitation. Water levels are being managed as best as possible but flooding is likely to occur in areas prone to flooding along these rivers.

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