Tag Archives: muskoka

Muskoka and Global: Environmental Good News Stories.

Did you know that Gravenhurst Bay in Lake Muskoka is 4 to 5 times cleaner than it was 1970?
Did you know that everyone alive in the 70’s had toxic levels of lead in their blood?
Did you know that Muskoka has only half as many acid lakes as it once did?
Well, how about this then: if it wasn’t for the life in lakes, we would all be blind, deaf , stupid and dead.

Dr. Norman Yan
To be blunt; we would all be blind, deaf , stupid and dead if it wasn’t for the life in lakes.

From the Muskoka Watershed Council Lecture Series I have just finished editing and have just posted this video on the Muskoka Watershed Council’s YouTube page.
Dr. Norman Yan, an extremely engaging speaker, revisits some past environmental successes, what we have learned and the steps we need to take to solve today’s environmental problems.

Phosphorous is the conrolling factor in eutrophication.

Learn how the reduction of phosphorus resulted in a clean up in Gravenhurst Bay while the International Joint Commission was still debating whether its carbon or phosphorus that spikes algal growth? This local Muskoka cleanup helped convince the world that phosphorus is the cause of cultural eutrophication. This phenomena is of increasing concern as population grows and the climate heats up; after all, we learned from this lecture, that algae really love heat.

Current photo of lake in China where people swim in an algal bloom.
Current photo of lake in China where people swim in an algal bloom.

Revisit the change to unleaded gas which got the toxic levels of lead out of our blood. Dr. Yan also discusses the many benefits of the ban on DDT, as well as the immediate benefits of the recent Ontario ban of cosmetic pesticides and herbicides. Also be sure not to miss houses disappearing from view as the Sudbury environment improves over 40 years!

Muskoka. Our environment is far more than our economy.

From the Muskoka Watershed Council Lecture Series I have just finished editing and have just posted this video on the Muskoka Watershed Council’s YouTube page.

All of us should be familiar with the fact that in Muskoka, our environment is our economy; over half our GDP comes from tourism and cottaging. In this lecture, Peter Sale attempts to convince us that our environment is far more than our economy.
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Every year some 5 billion cubic metres of water pass through Muskoka – that’s 3 1/2 times the entire volume of Lake Muskoka. Half is evaporated or transpired by Muskoka’s forests and plants, the other half – some 2.5 billion cubic metres flows into Georgian Bay. As climate change affects Muskoka – producing warmer and wetter winters, but dryer summers with more intense storms – we may be trying to find ways to hold on to that water, just a little longer; maybe the beaver has a solution for us.

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Peter, who describes himself as a strange, but harmless ecologist, talks about some of the many creatures in Muskoka including the beaver, the expected effects for Muskoka from climate change, an idea or two on solutions, and that there are other ways of valuing our environment other than simply to value it as a storehouse of resources to dig up and take away.

Flooding on Lake Muskoka

Flooding on Lake Muskoka
Dock system completely submerged

These north Lake Muskoka clients are doing well so far, but holding their breath. They consider themselves very fortunate.

Many have fared worse, we just finished a conversation with Walker’s Point, Lake Muskoka cottagers whose entire 2 dock system has lifted right off the cribwork. “We are hoping that it sets itself right back in place when the water recedes. At least it’s still there; we’ve seen a few float by.”

cottageinmuskoka.ca gives to Muskoka charity

Catharine presented a cheque for $800.00 that she is donating to the Interval House in Bracebridge. In addition to this local Muskoka support, Catharine has donated another $800.00 to the Royal LePage National Shelter Foundation.

The Muskoka Women’s Advocacy Group (MWAG) operates two 24-hour crisis shelters for abused women and their children – Muskoka Interval House, in Bracebridge and Chrysalis in Huntsville, which also offers supportive transitional housing units for vulnerable women.  Muskoka Interval House and Chrysalis are 24-hour women’s crisis shelters, serving Muskoka.

Catharine Inniss, Joy McCormack & Bentley
Catharine Inniss, Joy McCormack, Executive Director, Muskoka Women’s Advocacy Group & Bentley

Catharine has chosen to to support this important charity every year: “I appreciate the opportunity to give to such a worthy cause, right in our community. Bentley appreciates the opportunity to enjoy some sunshine in Muskoka. After jumping for joy, he jumped on Joy”.

What do you really want to know? Muskoka Watershed Council wants to hear from you.

In cottage real estate we get asked a lot of questions: Is it weedy?; Eeeew! What’s that stuff?; Why don’t we see crayfish anymore?; My boathouse dock’s underwater – what’s with the water levels this year?; Is my water safe for swimming?; etc. It’s really a lot of fun to answer most of the time!
But here’s a chance to have some of what you want to know, perhaps monitored over time and have it reported on every 4 years!

As many readers of this weblog know, the Muskoka Watershed Council (MWC) is a volunteer based non-profit organization with the mandate to champion watershed health in Muskoka; I am one of those volunteers.

MWC produces a Report Card every four years. The Report Card is a science-based evaluation of the health of the water, land, and wetlands in Muskoka and the municipalities that share Muskoka’s watersheds. Three Watershed Report Cards have been released to date (2004, 2007 & 2010)  We are also assisting the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve with the development of a State of the Bay Report for Georgian Bay, which will be released this year.

For the next Watershed Report Card due to be released in 2014, we want to hear from you, what you want to know about the health of our watersheds.
Click on the page below to ask your questions or find out more.

2014_RC_Request

Lake Joseph. Out on the April ice.

We were taken by snowmobile today so we could determine a listing price for a very nice Lake Joseph island property.

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45 mph makes for a good wind chill when you’re holding a camera!

We’ve been asked a few times actually, just in the past three or four days: “How thick(thin) is the ice on the big three?” Well we can tell you, as of today it is still very solid. Visibly on Lake Jo, there are no signs of open water except around bubblers and moving water. We have a way to go in Muskoka before break-up.
Below, even right beside the boathouse, the ice is very sound.

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Catharine; either waving, or trying to stop the process altogether!

We can’t show you the boathouse, the cottage, or anything identifiable on the property yet, as it’s not listed. But, here’s an image I made of the point while waiting for the snowmobile to return to pick me up.

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Spring in Muskoka? Nice, but still waiting.

It got up to 8 degrees C today, and really quite lovely, but we have some work to do to get all this ice and snow out of here. Other than today, our high temps have been -2 or so with night temperatures 10 degrees below that.  Lake Muskoka is still totally ice-covered, so the cottage awaits.

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Lake Muskoka at Hoc Roc river.

It looks like temps will be above freezing for … well, after tomorrow.

But, the ice is still very thick; hope so – we have to go price an island property on Lake Jo tomorrow, and we have to go by snowmobile. I might wear a CO2 lifejacket I got as a sailboat gift at Xmas … just for warmth of course.

Muskoka Minutes

I just finished the final edit and posted a couple of videos to YouTube that I shot back in July: Muskoka Minutes Slog, Muskoka Minutes Zoe.

The idea behind Muskoka Minutes is to show work being done by scientists and others in the field here in Muskoka on the Muskoka Watershed Council’s YouTube Channel. More details are here on the day spent tracking Blanding’s turtles, a species at risk in Ontario. My thanks to Jeremy, Kelsey, Mike and also Glenda.

Blanding’s Turtle

They used to have a much larger range in Ontario and were much more common in Muskoka – see below. They have many predators and like other turtle species have had their habitats carved up by roads.

Historic and current range of Blanding’s Turtles.

Cottager’s questions about lake quality answered.

Last  Saturday I made a presentation on behalf of the Muskoka Watershed Council to the Sparrow Lake Association. The SLA was founded way back in 1926,  and is one of many lake/cottager’s associations throughout Muskoka and elsewhere.

Sparrow Lake Association webpage.

As always, there were a lot of questions at the end of the talk and because we ran out of time, more questions one-on-one after the meeting.  It thought it might be helpful to repeat them here as sort of an FAQ about water quality and cottage waterfront living. But after typing out a few Q&As, I thought I should send you to a better source.

Michelle Palmer received her doctorate based on lake studies; specifically changes in our lakes over time. Recently I recorded, edited and posted a video of Dr. Palmer’s lecture which includes a Q&A session at the end: Our Lakes: How Have They Changed Over the Last 25 Years?

Loss of biodiversity, is it important if we don’t see it?

As a volunteer, as well as being on the executive of the Muskoka Watershed Council, I am the videographer. This gives me a great opportunity to ensure that truly wonderful ideas and presentations are not lost after the words are spoken and the video projector is turned off. I record, edit and post to YouTube, lectures and presentations at Muskoka Watershed Council events.

A most important event is the biennial Muskoka Summit on the Environment. On June 6th and 7th I recorded the presentations over the two day summit. Broadcast, in part, by CBC Radio’s Ideas with Paul Kennedy, (search for Buying Into Biodiversity), these were world-class lectures, presented here in Muskoka. I am delighted to be able to ensure these are available to the world.

The first is now available at the following link on Muskoka Watershed Council’s YouTube channel: Loss of biodiversity, is it important if we don’t see it?

It was presented by Justina C. Ray Ph.D. of the Wildlife Conservation Society, Canada. Justina raises some of the most important questions and current thinking on biodiversity and explores how our thinking has shifted over time, making biodiversity loss less apparent to us.