Environmental Commissioner visits SNC
South Nation Conservation’s General Manager Angela Coleman (right) and SNC Chair Francois St. Amour welcomed Dianne Saxe, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, to the SNC office in Finch on Tues., May 9. There, SNC Team Lead of Stewardship Rhonda Boutz gave a detailed presentation on SNC’s phosphorous trading program, and SNC Team Lead, Communications, John Mesman gave a presentation on loss of forest cover. Vetter photo
FINCH — South Nation Conservation welcomed Dianne Saxe, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, to the SNC office in Finch on Tues., May 9.
There Rhonda Boutz gave a detailed presentation on SNC’s phosphorous trading program, which is a unique program that has potential to help reduce the amount of phosphorous leaving fields and entering waterways, and John Mesman gave a presentation on loss of forest cover.
Boutz discussed phosphorous offsets, which are traded within the watershed only. SNC’s focus is on best management practices, and on grant delivery, through the existing Clean Water Program. General Manager Angela Coleman and former GM Dennis O’Grady discussed what has made their offsets program successful, including having all the documents needed in one place and helping fill out all the forms. O’Grady also pointed out that the multi-stakeholder system of evaluating grants, with a committee composed mostly of farmers or former farmers, in a group which had worked together since 1993, was also part of the program’s success.
Mesman then gave a short presentation about tree cover loss and the concerns about returning this area to a flood and drought cycle, like it experienced in the early 20th century after rivers were dammed and forests were clear-cut, resulting in the silting up of creeks and rivers to the point of near-desertification. In the South Nation watershed, 69 per cent of recent forest loss has been due to agriculture, with the largest amount in Russell Township, which has about 12 per cent forest cover.
Naturally the discussion turned to flooding, and to the increased speed with which water, whether through storm water run-off systems in developments, or through tile draining of fields, is contributing to disastrous floods in areas which were once considered far enough from water to be protected. Municipalities which have to respond to flooding are considering ways to mitigate the situation. Saxe noted that some areas of Ontario are experiencing flooding followed by drought, and expressed an interest in keeping more of the water retained on the land for use later in the year.
After the presentations, SNC GM Angela Coleman and SNC Chair Francois St. Amour presented Saxe with a gift, then SNC took her out in the field to examine, under the guidance of research scientist David Lapen of Agriculture and AgriFood Canada, a gate system for drains which helps control the way and velocity which water leaves tile-drained fields.