Wednesday 10 April 2024

SAM Newsletter #41 - Spring 2024


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2024 Spring AGM Save the Date!

SAM's Spring AGM will be hosted by the Town of Grand Falls-Windsor April 19th-20th, 2024! Registration details have been sent out. Please note that this event is by invitation only. If you did not receive your invitation, please email We look forward to seeing you all there!
Our bi-annual business meetings are opportunities for representatives from our member municipalities, invited guests and our partner organizations to share conservation and stewardship success stories and challenges. The meetings are also a chance to network and partner with other SAM communities on your next Stewardship project! Attendance is highly encouraged, and we offer a travel incentive to cover some of the associated costs.  

Other Effective Conservation Measures Project Update

If you have followed SAM's previous Newsletters, you may remember that we are working on a unique new project! SAM, along with the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador have partnered to recognize municipal leadership in conservation. This project aims to acknowledge the conservation initiative demonstrated by communities throughout NL through municipal-created conservation areas.
Indian Bay (left) / Corner Brook (right)
The 2023 stage of this project is now complete, with a fantastic result of 2,621 hectares (6,476 acres) of land across the province now officially recognized as protected areas. The team completed initial consultations, a collaborative assessment of land management practices, and a recommendation to the Provincial Natural Areas Division on formal recognition for several municipalities. In 2023, the municipalities assessed were: Indian Bay (1,151 hectares), Corner Brook (609 hectares), Elliston (431 hectares) and Whitbourne (430 hectares). These municipalities contain habitats vital to the province's natural landscape, such as wetlands, boreal forests and coastal habitats.
These areas are now recognized by Environment and Climate Change Canada as protected areas and are included in the national Canadian Protected and Conserved Areas Database (CPCAD). The protected lands will count towards the Government of Canada's commitment and target to protect and conserve 30 percent of the country's lands and waters by 2030.
Elliston (left) / Whitbourne (right)
This project has continued into 2024, and we aim to reach new municipal partners. SAM and NCC are currently working to guide additional communities through having areas that contribute to habitat protection gain formal recognition, including areas under municipal habitat stewardship agreements, protected public water supplies and valued natural and heritage zones. Municipalities interested in getting involved or learning more about this project can email samnlbiologist@gmail.comLearn more here...
"In Whitbourne, we are proud of the commitment we made in 1993. It is important to our community to be leaders in environmental stewardship and have the efforts of municipalities across Newfoundland and Labrador recognized on a larger scale." - Hilda Whelan, Mayor of Whitbourne.
"The Municipality of Indian Bay committed to the conservation of its important wildlife habitat in 2016 and is thrilled to have the Indian Bay Brook Management Unit recognized on a national level and included in national and international conservation targets." – Christa Lane, Mayor of Indian Bay

New Board Members

SAM's dedicated volunteer Board of Directors work with the staff to implement SAM's Mission and Vision and to accomplish their yearly conservation workplan. SAM's Board of Directors is composed of seven representatives: four Directors elected from our SAM Member Communities and three Ex-officio (non-voting), to support SAM in a resource capacity and provide technical and administrative support.
There have been some changes to the SAM Board of Directors since the 2023 Fall Business Meeting. We want to sincerely thank Julie Pomeroy Sparrow (representative for the Town of Portugal Cove-St. Philips), for serving on the SAM Board of Directors for several years. Her knowledge, insight and input will be greatly missed, and we want to congratulate Julie for her commitment to and service with SAM. We appreciate all of her valuable and important contributions during her time on the Board. 
SAM is very pleased to welcome our two new Directors: Heidi Kolodniski (Town of Bauline) and, former SAM Treasurer, Cynthia Downey (Town of Stephenville Crossing)!
Heidi Kolodniski (Town of Bauline)
With an education and career background in psychology, Heidi understands the significant role nature plays in human health and well-being. With these perspectives in mind, she was elected to the Bauline Town Council in the Fall of 2021 and she’s led the development of The Bauline Bee Garden, a small-scale composting site, has pushed for the expansion of habitat conservation and watershed protection in the area, and has been the SAM representative for her town since 2022. She is grateful to have been elected to the Board and hopes to continue to advocate for the inclusion of ecology and conservation into municipal planning - as it affects both humans and wildlife alike. 
Cynthia Downey (Town of Stephenville Crossing)
With over 30 years experience as a Town Councillor in the Town of Stephenville Crossing, and currently the Deputy Mayor since 2021, Cynthia has an extensive history of working for her municipality. Currently she is the Vice Chair for the Western Regional Service Board since 2021, which she has been a member of since 2017. She is also a dedicated volunteer with Revenue Canada for over 30 years, working on taxes all year round. Cynthia has a long history with SAM, having been the representative for her municipality for many years and having served as Treasurer from 2017-2023.
Don't Let It Loose!
Submitted by: MacGregor Parent, Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Biologist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans
When released into the wild, aquarium pets and plants can become harmful aquatic invasive species (AIS). AIS are fish, invertebrates and plant species that have been introduced into a new aquatic environment beyond their natural range. Many aquarium pets and plants are not native to Canada and can pose a threat to native species, habitats and biodiversity. When released, they can spread rapidly without facing natural predators or competitors. This is why Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) promotes “Don’t Let it Loose,” a campaign to inform the public about the risks of releasing aquarium pets and plants, as well as live bait and live food fish into the wild.
"Don't Let It Loose" Campaign Sign in the City of St. John's
For instance, in 2022, two red-eared slider turtles (a popular aquarium pet that can be invasive) were found in Bowring Park, St. John’s. In response, the Stewardship Association of Municipalities (SAM) and DFO partnered to help raise awareness around the threat of releasing aquarium pets into the environment. SAM placed information signage around St. John’s highlighting the importance of the message “Don’t Let it Loose.” In addition, SAM also hosted school groups and community events that discussed AIS and “Don’t Let it Loose.”

SAM Student Scholarship Applications Open!

The SAM Student Scholarship was first awarded in 2015 - this scholarship is awarded to a student either from or studying in Newfoundland and Labrador whose interests, activities and post-secondary goals are focused on the conservation of habitat in this province. The Deadline to apply or nominate a student is May 1st, 2024, and the Award is a $1000 scholarship.
2023 SAM Scholarship Winner, Emmerson Wilson
(Pictured L-R: SAM Director Julie Pomeroy Sparrow, Executive Director Zachary Burrows, and 2023 Scholarship Winner Emmerson Wilson.)

To be eligible for the SAM Student Scholarship:

  • Applicant must be a resident of or must be studying in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador;
  • Is (or will be) enrolled in a post-secondary program in the upcoming academic year;
  • Have demonstrated an active commitment to conservation in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Species Spotlight
Species of importance found within SAM’s Conservation Areas
The Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla) breeds on the arctic tundra and forage in open mudflats. In the winter, this species moves down to the coasts of Central and South America. They migrate across most of Canada, including Newfoundland and Labrador. The Semipalmated Sandpiper is currently listed as Near-threatened, as there have been significant population decreases in the Canadian population.
Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla) (Image Credit: Tyler Ficker)
The Semipalmated Sandpiper is a small shorebird between the size of a sparrow and a robin, with a short neck and small head. The species has a thin, straight bill and neutral colours. When breeding, adults have a brown, black, and gold-coloured top, head and breast. The under colour and flank are pale white. When non-breeding, adults are plain coloured with grey above and white below. Females have longer bills than males. The Semipalmated Sandpiper may be confused with the Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla); however, Least Sandpipers are smaller and have yellow legs. Another possible species confusion is Sanderlings (Calidris alba), which are larger than Semipalmated Sandpiper and more rust-coloured.
Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla)
During migration, this species can be found feeding on various food sources (such as small crustaceans, insects, mollusks, and worms) in shallow water or muddy habitats. They gather by the thousands as a group to rest during their long journey. Semipalmated Sandpiper can be found during the migration season in SAM Conservation Areas in Come by ChanceWabushCarmanvilleLewisporteNew-Wes-ValleyStephenville Crossing and Burgeo.
Biodiversity in the Codroy Valley
The Grand Codroy Estuary was designated as a wetland of international significance in 1987, recognizing its importance to waterfowl and other wildlife. The Estuary is the province’s only Ramsar designated wetland of international significance as it is one of the most productive of Newfoundland's wetland sites for biodiversity. It is home to thousands of migratory birds during the fall and spring migration, including the endangered Piping plover.
Grand Codroy Estuary
With several integrated efforts, SAM continues to contribute to the support of conservation and stewardship in the estuary. Since 2019, with the support of the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), the College of the North Atlantic (CNA) and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO)SAM has been conducting annual European Green Crab trapping in the Grand Codroy Estuary in the early fall to detect the possible presence of this invasive species which can have a negative impact on the ecosystem when found in large numbers. Trapping at a number of sites inside the Estuary over the years have indicated a low level presence of Green Crab.
SAM Staff trapping European Green Crab in the Grand Codroy Estuary
Additional efforts, with support from Intervale Associates and the College of the North Atlantic (CNA) is monitoring waterfowl species within the Grand Codroy Estuary which allows us to detect general trends in populations of waterfowl that are using the Grand Codroy Estuary, with the presence of species like Greater ScaupCanada GooseAmerican Black DuckGreen-winged TealCommon Merganser and American Wigeon. Our investigations seem to indicate relatively stable populations of waterfowl. Continuing to monitor biodiversity in the Estuary and even increasing monitoring efforts to include ecological function will support best management of an important crown jewel of a wetland on the west coast of Newfoundland. 
Students from College of the North Atlantic (CNA) monitoring waterfowl species in the Codroy Valley
Social Media
Did you know? You can follow SAM on a variety of Social Media Platforms!
Check us out on FacebookInstagram and X (Twitter) @SAM_Stewardship

2024 Stewardship Anniversaries

We would like to recognize some significant
Municipal Habitat Stewardship Agreement signing anniversaries.
Congratulations and we look forward to many more years of
conservation and stewardship!

20 years since signed (2004)
Happy Valley-Goose Bay
St. John's

15 years since signed (2009)
Mary's Harbour
St. Lewis
Red Bay
Port au Choix

5 years since signed (2019)
Do you have a conservation story you would like to see featured in a future newsletter? Send an email with the details to!
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Contact us:
Stewardship Association of Municipalities
36 Patrick's Path - Torbay, NL - A1K 1J2