Local couple lauded for work in stewardship

Duane Hicks

Phyllis and Dale Callaghan were proud recipients of the Wilson Stewardship Award from the Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation last month.
The award was presented March 11, during the 12th International Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Forum in International Falls, in recognition of their contributions in leading to the formation of the Rainy Lake Conservancy in 1999 and their work ever since.
The Callaghans, who were born and raised in the Fort Frances area and still spend six months of the year at their cabin on Rainy Lake, helped establish conservation reserves for Crown islands on Rainy Lake and land trust mechanisms for protecting private ones.
They also helped to preserve most of Goose Island as a nature reserve, in partnership with the nature conservancies of Canada and the U.S.
Phyllis Callaghan recalled that Goose Island, which measures about 350 acres in size, was to be subdivided into up to 100 lots.
“It was quite a shock to everybody around there, and so we worked with the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the U.S. and many other organizations, and we managed to settle that to the satisfaction of all of the stakeholders that were involved,” she recalled.
“And so the island wasn’t developed, and now it’s owned by the Nature Conservancy of Canada and managed by Ontario Parks.
“So that started our move to see what we could do if private land owners wanted to do something with their land to protect it,” Callaghan added.
“That’s really our mission—and to get education about stewardship out.”
The Callaghans have worked with the NCC, the Government of Canada, and other local partners to adopt the NCC Lake of the Woods Rainy Lake Natural Areas Conservation Plan.
They also spearheaded the completion of the first comprehensive biological inventory of the Canadian portion of Rainy Lake, and established cross-border conservation easements and mechanisms to permit Canadians and Americans with Canadian property to protect their properties.
The Wilson Stewardship Award recognizes outstanding achievements of individuals, groups, or projects that are making a significant contribution to environmental stewardship and sustainability of the Rainy-Lake of the Woods watershed ecosystem, through:
•education, outreach, civic engagement, and participation in stewardship initiatives or program development; and
•projects or programs focused on protection, restoration, preservation, or reduction of environmental impact and development of sustainable practices.
This award is named in honour of its first recipient, Gerry Wilson, in recognition of her contributions to lake stewardship during her 16 years as the former executive director of the Lake of the Woods District Property Owners Association.
Meanwhile, the Kallemeyn Award was presented by the LOWWSF to Ken Beaty, Fisheries and Oceans, retired, in recognition of his contributions to research and resource management in the Rainy-Lake of the Woods basin.
Beaty was a hydrologist at the Experimental Lakes Area from 1969 until 2012, when he monitored, recorded, and analyzed a broad range of hydrological and meteorological parameters in small streams, lakes, and their drainage basins, many lying within the greater Lake of the Woods watershed.
He created a database of “likely unequalled scope and duration” on the hydrology of headwater and near headwater Precambrian Shield ecosystems through detailed, year-round observations and sampling for more than 40 years in the Rawson Lake calibrated watershed.
He amassed detailed records of precipitation, snow cover and water content, stream flows, lake levels, evaporation, flushing rates, groundwater movement, and other hydro-meteorological parameters that will be valuable to current studies of contaminate loading and future studies of climate change effects on lakes.
The LOWWSF is a registered charitable organization incorporated in 2005 and headquartered in Kenora.
It participates in projects and provides financial support for research focused on developing a water quality sustainability plan for Lake of the Woods.