Sportsmen’s club touts youth

Joey Payeur

It’s time to pass the torch.
Youth—and their involvement in appreciating and protecting nature—was the prevailing theme at the Fort Frances Sportsmen’s Club’s annual general meeting held March 22 at the Fort Frances Public Library and Technology Centre.
The evening began with a presentation by two of Jody Bonner-Vickers’ Grade 8 students from J.W. Walker School about their class taking part in an outdoor education trip supported by the club.
Rachel Anderson and Kaya Hammond narrated a slide show displaying images from the event.
Long-time club member Henry Miller accompanied the group as it participated in activities such as starting their own fires and cooking homemade dishes over an open flame.
“With the increasing amount of technology, many students today don’t see past their screens,” Bonner-Vickers told club members.
“A trip like this gives the opportunity to experience the world around them and realize it’s enjoyable,” she added.
“If you plant the seeds, they’ll remember in the future, ‘Oh, this was fun,’ and be more willing to do activities like this,” Bonner-Vickers reasoned.
Dimit Bus Lines owners Bob and Gwen Dimit then were honoured with an appreciation award by the club for their help in transporting district students to these events over recent years at no charge.
Daniela Klicper, acting partnership specialist at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry office in Fort Frances, then spoke about environmental stewardship locally, with the focus again falling on the next generation.
“We want to empower youth . . . that’s a big priority for us,” stressed Klicper, who moved here five months ago.
“We want to raise awareness through outreach programs and by developing partnerships and projects.”
Some of those recent projects geared at area youth included the building of pine marten nesting boxes and a visit to the Seven Bends Honey Farm to learn about pollination.
A continuing co-operative working agreement between the MNRF and its Stewardship Youth Rangers also was cited.
Other ventures involve
•the Cultural Heritage Tree Project, with an inventory being done on all trees on municipal properties;
•the annual tree sale, which sees more than 20,000 trees purchased annually; and
•the mapping of historic canoe routes taken by Canadian settlers.
The local stewardship council, one of 46 such community-based groups in the province but one of only two in Northwestern Ontario, are “demonstrating positive roles in the community and can influence positive resource use in the area,” noted Klicper.
Also among the council’s laundry list of things to do includes supporting local projects in biodiversity, focusing on natural heritage protection, and identifying species at risk in the region.
The speakers’ portion of the meeting was rounded out by club member Vic Alberts, who revealed the club’s planned walleye inventory project at Ryckman Lake this summer.
“In 1994-95, we put walleyes in seven lakes in the district,” recalled Alberts.
“We then went back later with fishing volunteers and tracked when they started and stopped fishing during the day, how many fish they caught, [and] how big they were,” he explained.
“And then [we] took some scale samples to classify them by age,” added Alberts about the joint effort between the club, the MNRF, and Rainy River Forest Products.
“We’re looking for volunteers to do the same thing at Ryckman Lake this year.”
Alberts said the goal is to have the volunteers catch as many eight- to 12-inch walleye as possible to get a better handle on the population of younger fish in the lake and, subsequently, its potential for higher yields of bigger fish in years to come.
“It’s been a successful project at other lakes so we want to see if it works at Ryckman,” said Alberts.
He noted the club ideally would like to complete the project over one weekend in late June or early July.
Club members were encouraged to volunteer, but Alberts acknowledged anyone wanting to help fish the lake as part of the project would be welcomed.
More information on the project will be released in the coming months.