Job Posting: Georgian Bay Summer Ambassadors 2017 – Phrag Busters!
Do you want to work in the best place in the world for the summer? The CCA in association with Georgian Bay Forever (GBF) and the HHA are looking for 4 summer students to act as Ambassadors to assist in the education and control of Phragmites Australis. (see GBF website for details on the fight against Phrag).
Ambassadors will be responsible for mapping Phragmites stands in Cognashene and Honey Harbour as well as delivering educational programs, and assisting in, organizing and conducting community cutting activities as needed. Educational activities will include assisting in organizing and speaking at group events as well as dock visits to educate property owners on how to identify and eradicate invasive Phragmites on their property. Communicating current initiatives of other stakeholder groups such as Parks Canada, MNR, and the Ontario Phragmites Working Group will be disseminated, as well as providing information on the local cottager association. These activities will progress from education and mapping in the early summer, to cutting in August. Ambassadors may also be required to transport GBF University research teams to various sites around Honey Harbour and assist in other research activities throughout the summer.
Students will work in teams of two in boats and therefore, we will be looking for at least 2 candidates that are strong boat drivers and navigators (who know the waters throughout Honey Harbour and Cognashene). Overall, each team of two must have excellent boating and navigation skills, communication and education skills, as well as an ability to cut and haul reeds. Orientation and background training will be provided prior to the start of the summer.
Skills and Competencies:
- Must possess a valid driver’s license and Pleasure Craft Operator Card.
- Must be competent with marine navigation and charts and how to operate GPS systems.
- Working knowledge of Sonar equipment and Chartplotters an asset. Training will be provided.
- Must have good knowledge of the coastal waters of Georgian Bay especially Honey Harbour, Cognashene and Go Home Bay. Use of a personal boat would be an asset.
- Must have good interpersonal skills to initiate dock-side discussions and communicate information.
- An Environmental Sciences related education is a benefit (a passion for environmental sciences is a MUST!)
- Demonstrated ability to manage time, co-ordinate community activities, and communicate with team members.
- Be able to make public presentations.
- Must be available to work weekends.
- Must have a cell phone capable of running the EDDMaps Android based software app.
- Be in good physical condition and able to operate manual and powered cutting tools.
- Be confident in the water and a competent swimmer with an excellent knowledge of water safety practices.
- Keep excellent records and documentation on activities, participants, and outcomes of summer activities.
Interviews will be conducted by GBF and summer co-ordination will be with GBF, HHA and CCA representatives. Interested applicants please send resume to Sandy Thompson. Please contact Sandy Thompson with questions.
On October 26th, Gord Walker, Canadian Commissioner of the International Joint Commission (IJC) and Cognashene cottager, spoke at the GBF Vital Signs III event. Mr. Walker with respect to the history of the IJC and the fact that discussions related to management of water levels has been ongoing for nearly 100 years. In the past, each time the water has dropped and people have started to discuss solutions, the levels have come back up. Current water levels are at the low end of historic trends with an all-time low record set in January 2013. Over the past 140 years, the volume of aggregate that has been removed from the St Clair river is astounding (about 1 million dump trucks worth) although the dredging of the river is behind schedule (underfunded) right now to even keep up current shipping requirements. Mr. Walker discussed information from reports that have come out recently (2004 Baird report, 2009 study) and the solutions proposed. Many of the solutions proposed are centered around the Stag Island area.
While creating damns and locks is one idea, trying to 'control' the water and nature is much more challenging (and usually unsuccessful) than trying to put in solutions that will assist in our goals that allows for natural flucutations. The presentation included a good comparison chart that lays out the options, costs, and timing. The process will continue to move along but various stakeholders and groups need to be conferred with (i.e. lake Sturgeon that have not been seen in years are starting to return to the eastern shores of the St Clair River). While this is a great thing, it will require more consideration for any construction done in that area.
The Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR)
A Great Lakes St. Lawrence Low Water Levels Economic Impact Study is being completed. We have heard a bit about this in the past and the draft report is expected to be completed in February 2014 (pushed back from January). CGLR is an international group that bring together many stakeholders in the GL region in the US and Canada so that all social, economic, environmental and commercial aspects can be considered. The purpose of the study is to assist in demonstrating the materiality of the issue so that both politicians and other stakeholders can see its relative importance in both $ as well as impact on stakeholders. The study will analyze the impacts on shipping, harbours, fishing, boating, property values, hydro power generation, municipal and industrial water use and agriculture. At this time the study intends to stay fairly well focused on what they can assign costs to rather than speculate on the trickle down effects due to the fuzziness of the numbers as it gets further from the data they are able to collect (there was a question from the audience about how they would include this). However, it is acknowledged that there will be other effects than they can analyze in this one study but it should assist in its intent to get stakeholders engaged and collaborating on the solutions.
GBF's State of the Bay report looked at six indicators to look at the health of the Bay. Additional research is required for 2 of those indicators (Large Natural Areas and Fish Health). Cognashene had the following ratings:
Water – Phosphorous = B (6.1)
Several factors including human activities can affect total phosphorous in water.
Coastal wetlands = 2.7% (a measure of coverage of the area with coastal wetlands (does not include interior wetlands). There is not relative scale or rating for coastal wetland coverage.
Wetland Plants = A (3.8; over 3.5 means the wetlands are in good condition)
Natural Cover = A (98.1%)
Invasive Phragmites is an invasive grass that has been outcompeting native wetland
species in freshwater and coastal wetlands. There is a native subspecies of phragmites that is not as destructive.
Information on the distinction of the 2 species and suggestions on eradication can be found on the mnr’s website.
Georgian Bay Forever and other groups are conducting a number of key investigations around the Bay. You can find more details on their websites. Below are highlighted the results from some recent reports (from Vital Signs III on October 26th in Toronto).
GBF and Hutchinson Environmental conducted a paleolimnological study in HH to look at the history of the sediments and see if there were any trend that we could see and relate them to human impact/effects. Paleolimnology looks at sediment core samples and assesses the detritus in it to evaluate trends, weather patterns and growing conditions in the past. Depending on the seeds, diatoms, and other microscopic materials in the sediments, the temperature of the water and conditions (such as low or high oxygen levels) can be determined. In this case they looked at multiple lines of evidence, including lead (Pb) 210 (used for dating material), midge larvae, diatoms and plant macro-fossils and pigments. The study was done in 2 areas of Honey Harbour: North Bay and South Bay. The level of sedimentation in South Bay was much higher than that in North Bay so they could only date back to 1760 in South Bay whereas they could go to 1534 in North Bay. The data was looked at in time frames that included pre-1800s, pre-1950s (pre European colonizations) and post 1980s for more impact from tourism.
The results indicated:
- No noticeable change in oxygen conditions in North or South Bay
- No distinct trend in total phosphorus (TP) or nitrogen except for a decrease in TP at open-water station P4
- Possible decreases in chlorophyll a concentrations and increases in water clarity.
- Increased presence of chrysophyte algae in the phytoplankton community
These results show that there has been no substantial changes over time although the minute changes that have occurred recently in some parameters (i.e Secchi depth and chlorophyll a) may reflect the invasion of mussels.
The next step in the research project would be to look at the cause of the changes over time.