Stewardship Rangers tackling environmental adventures

From the
Ontario Stewardship Rangers
Greetings from the new 2011 Stewardship Rangers!
We are a group of young individuals working for the Ministry of Natural Resources who are passionate about sustaining the environment for future generations.
Our team this year includes four Stewardship Rangers—Luc Desserre, Brandon Tupper, Zach Jolicoeur, and Kathryn Clifford.
Our assistant team lead is Megan Veniot while our crew leader is Laura Darby.
We started work on July 4 and did a lot of basic training throughout the week to prepare us for the summer ahead.
Our first project was going to a summer reading camp at St. Michael’s School, where we visited Mrs. Cousineau’s Grade 2 class and taught them about different wildlife species in our area (e.g., American badger, red fox, and wolves).
We brought in furs to show them what the animals looked like, made plaster mould footprints of the animals, and enjoyed working with the children who were very excited and interested to learn.
We started this past week (July 11-15) by going out on Stanjikoming Bay (Rainy Lake) to monitor rusty crayfish, which are an invasive species discovered in Alexandria Bay (Rainy Lake) last summer.
Rusty crayfish compete with native crayfish and fish for resources and also feed on aquatic plant beds, which can destroy nursery and spawning habitats.
We did not find any rusty crayfish, which is a good thing!
We also encountered many different types of wildlife while out on the lake, including a loon family, pelicans, cormorants, eagles, and tadpole madtom (a small catfish species).
After that, we went to the Fort Frances Sportsmen’s Club shooting range and caught many types of dragonflies. We also learned how to identify the Ruby Meadowhawk and the Brush-tipped Emerald.
Then last Wednesday (July 13), we spent the morning receiving “FireSmart” training from local Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services staff.
This training will allow us to educate homeowners on how to prepare their yards and homes to prevent damage from a wildfire.
Later in the summer, we will get the chance to participate in “FireSmart” home assessments.
In addition, we began pulling European Common Reed (a tall perennial grass also known as phagmites) from the ditch along Highway 11/71 west of Fort Frances.
European Common Reed is an invasive species that looks a lot like our native phragmites. However, invasive European Common Reed can grow to be five meters tall, it displaces native wetland vegetation causing large monoculture stands, and it threatens local biodiversity.
We will continue to remove the invasive European Common Reed throughout the summer.
Finally, we headed out to the Rainy Lake Nordic Ski Club’s trails at Rocky Inlet on Friday (July 15) to help with maintenance.
We brushed the trail, and removed any obstacles to make them more enjoyable and accessible.
Look for more updates in next week’s paper for information on our other summer adventures.
To learn more about our projects, and to see photos of us in the field, visit the Rainy River District Stewardship’s website.

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