Youth rangers keeping busy

Submitted by
the Stewardship
Youth Rangers

Hello again from your local Fort Frances Ogimaa Binesiiyog Stewardship Youth Rangers!
We were able to take part in the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship last month, where we assisted Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry Fort Frances district biologist Melissa Mosley to monitor the oxygen levels and temperature of the water in the tanks where the fish were kept to ensure they stayed healthy and safe during this live-release tournament, as well as collecting size measurements for each fish.
The teams also took turns at our education and outreach table, where we invited people to ask questions about our programs and stewardship activities.
Over the past two weeks, we went out with MNRF Fort Frances district conservation officer Charlene Binkley to some sites east of Fort Frances, where we set to work clearing up boat launches and learning about enforcement.
Not only did the rangers have a chance to put their stewardship skills to good use, we all took turns using our SPOT devices–a Global Positioning System (GPS) safety device–to send “o.k./ops normal” messages back to the MNRF Fort Frances District office.
Some of us endeavoured to take a long walk around the sites, where we found and identified different types of animal tracks and wild blueberries (yum!)
We had a chance to tour of the former Steep Rock mining lands near Atikokan to learn about the history of the mine and how the MNRF is working hard to clean up the site.
It was interesting to learn how much things have changed since the early days of mining iron ore at Steep Rock, and the differences between this decommissioned mine and a new working mine like the New Gold one north of Barwick.
For our forestry project this year, we went out with Fort Frances district management forester Sam Hawken, who taught us about the Ontario Forest Ecosystem Classification, a system which classifies land based on ecological features.
We got “hands-on” practice taking samples with a soil auger and used ecosite keys to identify soil types and tree species.
On another day, our program co-ordinator, Angel Nixon, took us out to Devlin where we worked hard on a project removing purple loosestrife, an invasive species brought over from Europe in the 1800s. Purple loosestrife often is mistaken for fireweed or lupines, but is harmful because it takes over wetland ecosystems.
We know it’s pretty but please don’t plant it in your garden!
One of the highlights of our summer is sure to be our camping trip to Quetico Provincial Park. We were so lucky to get set up with the help of park superintendent Trevor Gibbs and interior operations specialist John Bartol.
We not only learned to fish and cook, but put our Ontario Recreational Canoeing and Kayaking Association (ORCKA) skills to the test by paddling 10 km to “The Pines” campsite. Some of us had never been to Quetico Park, let alone camped in it!
We assisted Quetico Provincial Park canoe technicians Brandon Allen, Michael Davidson, Laura Humphrey, and Dustin Jeffery to clear ski trails and portages, do campsite clean-up, and stack firewood for campers.
Each day of our trip, we also practised using satellite phones and SPOT devices to keep in touch with our MNRF Fort Frances District office.
All in all, our camping trip was filled with a ton of laughter, health and safety talks, and lots of exercise!
Bye for now–rangers out!