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reeves report: Ottawa completes $400,000 Asian carp science lab

A $400,000 ASIAN CARP science lab was opened by Public Works Minister Diane Finley Monday as part of $17.5 million committed by Ottawa to fight the spread of this aquatic invasive species.

Captured grass carp at Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans research lab in Burlington, ON (Andrew Reeves)

The new lab in Burlington, Ontario — which is housed in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Canada Centre for Inland Waters — will allow sample testing to be done in Canada rather than relying on genetic testing of water samples to be done in the United States to identify Asian carp DNA (Read more…)

reeves report: MNR lacks real-time data on controversial spring bear hunt

Black bear. (Flickr photo by Casey Brown)

JUST OVER HALFWAY through the reintroduced six-week spring bear hunt, which runs from May 1 to June 15, the province of Ontario has issued close to 2,300 licenses for black bears.

Unfortunately, the Ministry of Natural Resources has no idea how many of those licences will be used this spring, and how many were requested for use in the fall.

Each license entitles an Ontario resident hunter to kill one black bear in 2014, but would-be hunters are not required to specify whether they intend to tag a bear in spring or during (Read more…)

reeves report: Environmental Legislation Killed by the Ontario Election

Environment Minister Jim Bradley and Natural Resources Minister David Orazietti speak with reporters at Queen’s Park. June, 2013. (Photo by Andrew Reeves)

SO WE KEEP WAITING.

Ontario’s environmental community had reason for optimism when Kathleen Wynne assumed leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party in January 2013, knowing the new premier was more progressive than her predecessor Dalton McGuinty and perhaps more inclined to want to beef up the Liberals’ green cred.

But with an election called for June 12, hopes for sweeping new green legislation on everything from protecting the Great Lakes to improving recycling rates have been dashed. (Read more…)

reeves report: Kathleen Wynne’s environmental ups and downs

Feature image: Ontario Rangers youth gather at Queen’s Park in January, 2013 to protest cuts to a Ministry of Natural Resources program many former participants claim changed their lives.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has called an election for June 12, and as the parties gear up their campaign platforms, it’s worth taking a look back at the environmental ups and downs of Wynne’s 15 months as Premier.

(Note that a full breakdown of environmental legislation introduced in the last session of parliament, all of which died on the order paper, will be published soon at Alternatives Journal. Check back for (Read more…)

reeves report: Swimming against the odds

Few of the hundreds of thousands of Chinook salmon introduced into Lake Ontario each year survive to maturity, but the Ministry of Natural Resources is still betting on them to help to improve the health of the Great Lakes.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa with MNR staff and representatives from the Port Credit Salmon and Trout Association.

THERE WAS A GENERAL SENSE of anticipation when the Ministry of Natural Resources truck backed in next to the Snug Harbour marina in Port Credit in Mississauga, Ontario. Everyone there at the water’s edge knew how important the truck’s cargo was to the overall health (Read more…)

reeves report: Canada-Ontario Agreement targets aquatic invasives in Great Lakes

Beefing up protections against aquatic invasive species like Asian carp has taken a prominent place in the latest Canada-Ontario Agreement (COA) governing how both governments aim to work together on protecting the Great Lakes.

Asian carp in U.S. water.

“Aquatic invasives have altered Great Lakes ecosystems and caused significant disruptions to many of the benefits those ecosystems provide to Canadians,” the agreement states. “The continued introduction of AIS is one of the most significant threats to biodiversity in the Great Lakes.”

Queen’s Park and Ottawa released a draft copy of the eighth such agreement to be signed since (Read more…)

the reeves report: Time running out on ELA interim agreement

Researchers working at one of 58 lakes in the Experimental Lakes Area in northern Ontario.

Only three days remain to finalize the interim agreement to find a new operator for the Experimental Lakes Area laboratory in northern Ontario, but the province’s resource minister is “optimistic” things will work out.

“We are optimistic that we’ll have some positive news very shortly,” said Natural Resources Minister David Orazietti Thursday.

It’s possible all parties may agree to an interim continuation of the already interim agreement if no permanent arrangement can be found, he said, but currently the Liberals don’t believe more time will be (Read more…)

the reeves report: Ontario strengthens tools to combat invasives

MNR Minister David Orazietti introduces the Invasives Species Act at Queen’s Park.

Groundbreaking legislation a first of its kind in Canada – aims to fill in legislative gaps in combatting invasive species in Ontario.

Ontario is attempting to clear away some of the regulatory red tape and overlap that keeps Ministry of Natural Resources officials from moving quickly to combat invasive species with a new Invasive Species Act introduced late last month.

The bill, which MNR staff began working on in earnest last summer, would give Ontario greater authority over banning particular species and their transportation into and within the (Read more…)

the reeves report: Ontario Court backs Gilead Power at Ostrander Point

South Shore of Ostrander Point (Image from CountyLive.com)

Seven months after learning a contentious wind project at Ostrander Point had been halted by the Environmental Review Tribunal, an Ontario divisional court overturned that decision Thursday, paving the way for development to begin later this year.

In July 2013, the Tribunal agreed with the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists that if development of a nine turbine, 22.5 megawatt project from wind proponent Gilead Power was allowed to proceed that local Blanding’s Turtles – a provincially threatened species – would suffer irreparable harm from vehicle traffic on access roads leading (Read more…)

the reeves report: Federal court knocks Ottawa for failing to protect endangered species — Ontario could be next

Woodland caribou listed in Canada as a species-at-risk. (Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller is warning Queen’s Park could face sharp reprimands by the courts for its failure to uphold wildlife protections under the Endangered Species Act.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a federal court confirmed last week the Government of Canada does indeed have a responsibility to follow its own species at risk legislation.

The decision, handed down by Madam Justice Anne Mactavish on Feb. 14, stated the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the federal Ministry of the Environment “acted unlawfully in failing (Read more…)

the reeves report: Green neighbours collide over wind power project

It’s dispiriting when newly rival factions of the environmental movement clash over what has become a touchy subject in green circles. Worse when disagreements end up in the justice system.

Yet that’s exactly what played out this week in a Toronto appeals court.

In an issue the media have dubbed ‘turtles versus turbines,’ the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN), a group often led publicly by outspoken grandmother and wildlife advocate Myrna Wood, found themselves in court this week defending a landmark decision from the Environmental Review Tribunal in July, 2013 which halted a renewable energy project at Ostrander Point (Read more…)

the reeves report: Ontario Government “Failed Miserably” to Protect Endangered Species

Woodland Caribou (Flickr image from Jim Winstead)

The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) has shown a “shocking disregard” for its legal obligation to consult with the public on numerous changes to how species at risk and their habitat are managed in the province, Ontario’s environmental commissioner Gord Miller warned recently.

In Laying Siege to the Last Line of Defence: A Review of Ontario’s Weakened Protections for Species at Risk, the commissioner’s special report on endangered species protections in Ontario, Miller argued that since the Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA) came into effect the government has “failed miserably” to provide (Read more…)

the reeves report: Asian carp capable of breeding in Great Lakes: USGS scientists

Captured grass carp at Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans research lab in Burlington, ON (Andrew Reeves)

Anyone doubting whether Asian carp could successfully breed in the Great Lakes watershed got their answer Monday as researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey and Bowling Green State University in Ohio announced four grass carp were found to have lived and bred in the Sandusky River, a tributary of Lake Erie.

This is a critical milestone. Canadian and US scientists and policy makers have been holding onto a last hope that, should the destructive invasive species make its way into the watershed, they (Read more…)

the reeves report: Grass carp found in Grand River sterile

It could have been worse. When the Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced on May 3 that a Grass carp caught in the Grand River near Lake Erie was sterile, biologists and invasive species experts on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border could breathe a sigh of relief.

But not a big sigh of relief. As it stands, evidence that a 40-lb, 44-inch Grass carp was caught by an angler on April 27 is still cause for concern given that it, along with Silver, Bighead and Black carp are all highly worrisome aquatic invasive species whose possession in Ontario (Read more…)

the reeves report: Local Knowledge Key in Land Restoration Program

Building off the idea that few comprehend the environmental challenges occurring in their backyards better than those who witness them daily, the Ontario government has re-launched yet another program to solicit local engagement in improving the province’s natural spaces.

The Land Stewardship and Habitat Restoration Program– operating under the awkward acronym LSHRP – will award small grants of up to $20,000 for communities, municipalities, businesses and First Nations groups to aid in conducting terrestrial remediation efforts across Ontario, provided the group can match the funds donated by the Ministry of Natural Resources.

In its previous incarnation, the $300,000 fund

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the reeves report: Algonquin Park: A Waste Diversion Success Story

Algonquin Park at sunrise. Flickr image by Karin Lewis.

The crown jewel of Ontario’s provincial park system is being recognized for hitting a crucial milestone not often associated with our parks system: removing garbage.

With approximately one million visitors flocking to Ontario’s largest and most popular park destination, Algonquin Park in Central Ontario is earning praise from the province’s Environmental Commissioner for improving their waste diversion rate from 20 per cent in 2004 to 40 per cent overall by 2011/2012.

And 40 per cent is simply the average: six sites in the park diverted more than 50 per cent of

. . . → Read More: the reeves report: Algonquin Park: A Waste Diversion Success Story

the reeves report: Ontario Forests Will Be Net Carbon Source Until 2040

Ontario Forest in Spring. (Flickr image by jd_09)

Ontario’s Crown forests are expected to remain a net source of carbon emissions for the next three decades, according to the latest forestry report from the Ministry of Natural Resources.

The latest State of Ontario’s Forests report released January 3 – the third issued by the government, this one covering the fiscal years 2004 to 2008 – found that Ontario’s Crown forests will remain a carbon source until at least 2040 largely because of deforestation and decomposition of deceased and aging trees.

After 2040, changes to forest structure will see them become

. . . → Read More: the reeves report: Ontario Forests Will Be Net Carbon Source Until 2040

the reeves report: Ontario Rangers Rally in Support of Life-Changing Program

photo by awreeves

Until the first speaker reached the podium, the protest to save the Ontario Ranger Program at Queen’s Park on January 4 seemed more like a high-school reunion than a community rally.

Approximately 100 people—many in standard issue yellow hard hats emblazoned with the Ministry of Natural Resources logo and covered in the signatures of their workmates who made up their summer family— stood on the lawn of Queen’s Park in the snow hugging and laughing, catching up with friends, singing camp songs, reliving inside jokes from their days in the bush and waving homemade placards, some taped

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