From the Ontario
Greetings from the OSR crew!
We started off this past week (Aug. 8-13) with a partial office day—we took the morning to prepare for an upcoming trip to Quetico Provincial Park.
We planned out what food and supplies we will need, lined up our canoes and their transportation, and made sure each of us individually had everything we’ll need for the trip.
That afternoon, we headed out west of Fort Frances to look for purple loosestrife, an invasive species of loosestrife often confused with our native fireweed.
Purple loosestrife can grow to be two metres tall, and has a square stalk with usually about five or six sides. It has dark purple flowers, with six purple flowers surrounding yellow centres.
Purple loosestrife is known to spread rapidly and form large monoculture stands, which reduces the biodiversity of our area by changing the important wetland habitat that our native species need to survive.
Next to habitat loss from human activities, invasive species are the second-greatest threat to global biodiversity.
After locating the reported purple loosestrife, we spent the afternoon removing it from ditches along Highway 11.
Then last Tuesday (Aug. 9), we headed out with Jeff Johnston, Rainy River District Stewardship chairman, to complete hare surveys off the Cedar Narrows Road and Weller Lake Road.
A hare survey is when you record the amount of rabbit pellets in designated areas of the forest (we do this to monitor the hare population in our region).
On Wednesday, we got the amazing opportunity to get ORCKA Level 2 training (Ontario Recreational Canoeing and Kayaking Association), which will make it possible for us to go on our Quetico canoe trip.
In ORCKA training, we learned a variety of strokes and skills, including how to properly rescue paddlers who have tipped their canoe and other important skills needed if you plan to take a safe canoe voyage.
Then on Aug. 12, we went out on Rainy Lake with conservation officer Mike Veniot to clean up garbage at several campsites and boat launches.
Please remember to leave no trace (garbage) when you’re taking in all the great outdoors experiences our district has to offer.
We also cleaned up debris and other obstructions left behind from harsh winds and weather to make these natural sites enjoyable for everyone.
Thanks for reading and look for next week’s article for information on our trip to Quetico Provincial Park and the Emo fall fair.