Tuesday 18 December 2018

SAM Newsletter #19 Winter 2018

Early SAM Meeting held in Torbay, NL in 1998. You may recognize (Back Row- third from L) Gerry Yetman (EHJV Biologist) and (Second from left) Hayward Young (Stephenville Crossing); who as SAM Vice-President, along with then SAM President Barry Manuel (not pictured), currently the Mayor of Grand-Falls Windsor, signed the original incorporation papers for SAM in 1999.

Reflecting on 30+ years of Stewardship 

The end of the year is often a time of reflection for many people, and SAM is no exception. This coming year marks 30 years of the Eastern Habitat Joint Venture and  20 years since SAM has been fully incorporated. The first stewardship agreements were signed in 1993, and SAM became fully incorporated in 1999. 
In 1999, there were 11 SAM members, Grand Codroy EstuaryWhitbourne,GanderCarmanvilleCome-by-ChanceStephenville CrossingTorbayBay Roberts, Spaniard's BayWinterland and Grand Falls -Windsor"SAM's Eleven" by 1998 had all signed municipal habitat stewardship agreements, together protecting 10,982 acres. Today SAM has grown to  42 members (Congrats to Corner Brook on becoming the 42nd member on December 17th, 2018!!) across Newfoundland and Labrador, and together they protect over 48,000 acres of wildlife habitat. 
SAM Members and Executive at the 2001 Spring SAM AGM held in Carmanville
SAM has had, since incorporation, elected from its Board volunteer Executive Officers.  Over the years the executive has included people from all over the province, united by a passion and dedication for their communities. There have been 21 individuals that have taken on roles in the executive since 1996, many of whom went far beyond the 2 year commitment they signed up for when elected. We sincerely thank them for their service! Without them SAM would not exist!   
SAM officially meets twice a year at our Business Meetings. Since 1996, SAM has held  45 business meetings! These meetings are an opportunity for representatives from member municipalities, invited guests and partner organizations to share conservation and stewardship success stories and challenges. The meetings are also a chance for member communities to network and partner with other members on Stewardship projects!

Many great ideas and supportive partnerships have been born out of SAM meetings such as SAM's support for the Wetland Interpretation Centre in Carmanville, and many nestbox workshops and wetland field trips.
From dreams to reality! Many hours of hard work and dedication in the small municipality of Carmanville led to the building of a beautiful centre located at their wetland nature trails. Pictured left The proposed plans for the Carmanville Wetland Interpretation Centre  presented in 2006. Pictured right the completed Wetland Interpretation Centre! 
Over the years SAM has also supported countless habitat stewardship outreach programs. From helping to develop signage and brochures in 2009 on Piping Plover with Stephenville Crossing, to birding workshops in 2011 with Bay Robert's/Spaniards Bay, to geocaching events in 2013 with Come-by-Chance.

Today we are able to utilize our website and social media to upload current habitat stewardship resources, making them available for our members and the general public. Some modern community stewardship initiatives include disposing of e-waste, learning about provincial climate change resources and enhancing backyard habitats. 
Enhancing wildlife habitat one wetland at a time!
Pictured left: Plans for the Shearstown Estuary restoration project. Pictured right: Nesting island created in the Bonavista Management Unit of  O'Dea's Pond
SAM has also supported many habitat restoration and enhancement projects taken on by our members. The improvement to the Shearstown Estuary  is one example. The Estuary was in need of improved water in and outflows to maintain water quality. This in turn would support healthy fish and bird populations. With support from SAM, and led by the Shearstown Estuary Joint Habitat Management Committee, the municipalities of Bay Roberts & Spanairds Bay jointly took on the project in 2013. Today the estuary is a birding hot spotand is popular with wildlife and birding enthusiasts.

Bonavista also started a restoration project in 2016 of a former wetland area that had been infilled in the 1960s. With help from SAM, the Bonavista Horticultural Society and the Bonavista Environment Committee, the Town of Bonavista has been able to remove infilling and create several nesting islands in on of their Management Units, creating perfect habitat for shorebirds and waterfowl.
SAM Member Representatives taking to the trails at the most recent SAM Meeting in September 2018 with our host municipality of Labrador City 
SAM is looking forward to many more years of working with our members on habitat conservation, enhancement and stewardship. If you have pictures you would like to share in future newsletters of past SAM Meetings, events or projects email them to samstewardship@gmail.com .

SAM Network News & Updates

  • SAM Conservation Fund Scholarship Application 2019  The application form for this years Conservation Fund Scholarship is now available on our website! Deadline is May 1, 2019
  • It is time for the Christmas Bird Count! Check out the website for a bird count near you! There will be bird counts held in St. John's and Corner Brook. Contact samstewardship@gmail.com for more details
  • World Wetlands Day Communications Materials Now Available Join in the celebration of wetlands on February 2nd and post your community event on the RAMSAR website. You can also download free communication materials for 2019. The theme this year is "Wetlands and Climate Change"
  • CONGRATULATIONS  to The City of Corner Brook for becoming the 42nd member of SAM! Look for the article on the signing event in our February Newsletter!
Urban wetlands make great habitat! The Green-winged Teals pictured above are taking advantage of a beautiful wetland habitat in St. John's. Learn more about Teals in our article below:
"Teal Time with SAM Conservation Biologist Laura King"

Muskrat Mysteries with SAM Conservation Biologist on the West Coast 

SAM partners with government and non-governmental agencies to help support wildlife habitat conservation.This past fall SAM Conservation Biologist, Elisabeth Belanzaran, had the opportunity to work with Wildlife Division Ecologists in Corner Brook on muskrat surveys. 
SAM Conservation Biologist Elisabeth Belanzaran collecting data on Muskrats populations on the West Coast of the Island
Muskrats are one of only 14 native mammal species we have on the island portion of the province. They are a large rodent-like mammal that are commonly found across North America. Their habitat includes freshwater wetlands, the marshy edges of lakes, and slow moving streams. Covered with a thick waterproof fur, this helps protects them as they overwinter in wetland habitats. They are considered semi-aquatic and amazingly can stay submerged for up to 15 minutes! 
Muskrats have been hunted and trapped for hundreds of years in Canada. Prized for their pelts and as a source of food for early settlers and indigenous communities. Populations of muskrats do fluctuate, but in general Canadian ecologists believe they are able to withstand hunting and predation pressure.

Elisabeth joined Bruce Rodigues, an Ecosystems Management Ecologist with the Wildlife Division, this past fall and helped conducted surveys of muskrat populations on the west coast of the island. Not much information is known about muskrat populations in the province. These surveys are part of an ongoing study into the abundance of muskrats, their activity, and how this in turn effects the ecology of other species, including the threatened Newfoundland Marten.

The goal of the study is to develop a good baseline understanding of muskrat populations on the island so that this can inform sustainable management of the species. If you know of muskrat activity in your community and would like to contribute to the project you can contact Bruce at 637-2892 or email at  brucerodrigues@gov.nl.ca 
Go Green this Holiday: tips an eco-friendly holiday season
It was estimated that Canadians threw out 540,000 tonnes of wrapping paper  in 2017 and in many cities wrapping paper cannot be recycled, not to mention cards, tape and tinsel. This year try using some of these fun and simple ideas to "Green" your holidays.
1) Go with fabric:  Use, reuse & gift fabric bags. Make your own bags, or try using Furoshiki, the Japaneses art of wrapping gifts with fabric! 
Try using remnant/ scrap fabric or vintage scarves to wrap presents and to make bags. Wrap a wine bottle in a dish cloth for a two in one gift!
2) Reuse and Reduce and Decorate!:  Reuse gift bags instead of purchasing new ones.  Once the gift bag is at the end of its life, cut the strings and reuse for decoration and cut the bag open and use to wrap other presents! 
There are also lots of alternatives to store bought products likenewsprint, old books, maps, and paper shopping bags. You can even get the gang together to decorate paper lunch bags that can be recycled after the holiday season.
3) Go Local: Check out resources available for you in your community by learning the recycling standardsand  Christmas tree mulching. Many times these services are free and help reduce waste in our landfills.

Go green this holiday! Send in your images of how you and your community are going green this Christmas to samstewardship@gmail.com
Teal Time with SAM 
Conservation Biologist, Laura King
Most people in Newfoundland and Labrador are familiar with the Mallard duck, as it is often seen in urban parks begging for food, and the male’s green head is noticeable. But did you know we have another duck in this province with green on its head?
The Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca) can be found across most of Newfoundland and Labrador, relatively well camouflaged in places like ponds, marshes, and slowly flowing streams. It’s mostly a dabbling duck, tipping up its body to feed, but will occasionally use a short dive as well to find food. The species shows sexual dimorphism (the sexes look different) but both male and female have a green speculum (coloured wing patch)which may not show while they are resting quietly, but can usually be seen once they start moving or preening. The male’s head is chestnut-coloured with a large green patch around the eye, extending down the neck; he also has a long white ‘stripe’ roughly separating his breast and side.

If you have the chance to see them near other ducks, such as American Black Duckor Mallard, their very small size will be obvious; otherwise, the male’s plumage or the green speculum are great ways to identify them. You can also often hear Green-winged Teals before you see them, as the male has a distinctive whistle.
Green-winged Teal are migratory and most spend their winter away from Newfoundland and Labrador in the southern US, the Caribbean, and Mexico. Their diet is quite flexible but usually includes seeds, insects, and aquatic vegetation.

Want to see a Green-winged Teal? Head to https://ebird.org/map/gnwtea and zoom in on your location, then click your nearest fire icons for recent sightings. Remember to take any pictures from a distance, and don’t try to feed them - their natural food is best for them.
Snowshoeing 101: Get outside this winter
Winter can be a long season here in Newfoundland and Labrador, but snow shouldn't stop you from hitting the trails. Snowshoeing is a great low impact exercise that is easy, fun and inexpensive! 
Follow the tips below to enjoy this winter sport to the fullest!
1) Dress in Layers:think three layers, one close to the skin that will wick sweat, an insulating layer, and a outer layer that is water and wind proof.
2) Better boots!:Waterproof winter boots with a pair of wool (NOT cotton ) socks will keep you comfortable outside in the snow.
3) Get your accessories on point: Choose a wool toque to keep warm, and combined with a baseball hat to keep sun out of your eyes. Waterproof gloves or mittens will keep your fingers toasty. Finally, even tho it is winter, the the sun can be very bright on the trail. Bring along sunglasses to protect your eyes.
4) Tips on technique: Although easy, there are some techniques that will make your adventure a safe one. First, start out on a flat trail. Get used to how to walk before you head out. Secondly depending on the type of snow and type of snowshoes use the crampons correctly when going up and down hills. Finally, if you feel yourself falling try to get on your back or side. To get up, roll onto your knees and use your polls for stability. 
5) Stay Safe!: if you are a beginner stay on known trails, be prepared with proper clothing, water and food, and travel in a group. 
Have fun this winter and try enjoying the Management Units on snowshoe! For more information on MU access points in your community contact us!
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Friday 2 November 2018

SAM Newsletter #18 Fall 2018

Labrador City hosts the SAM Fall Meeting

At the end of September SAM community representatives got together in Labrador City for the 2018 Fall SAM Meeting. A big thanks to the Town of Labrador City, for hosting this years meeting. All SAM Communities are invited to participate in the bi-annual SAM meetings, and this fall 12 community representatives made the journey to Labrador City. SAM encourages each municipality to send a representative to the meetings. That representative can be a current town councillor, a member of staff, or a informed resident.

This years meeting started off on Friday night with the SAM Meet & Greet. The evening was hosted at the Two Seasons Inn with refreshments provided by The Town of Labrador City. SAM Staff invited participants to the SAM Nature Challenge. Attendees worked through 4 nature stations that challenged their knowledge of birds, edible berries, wetland values, and Labrador trivia.
This years SAM Meeting Meet & Greet Nature Challenge was a real head-scratcher. Pictured above (L - R)  Forteau Resident -Vernon Buckle, Deputy Mayor of Labrador City - Fabian Benoit, and Town of Gambo Councillor - Mark Stockley. 
A SAM Nature Challenge can be easily added to any community event! If you would like to learn more about enhancing your next municipal event with a nature challenge email samstewardship@gmail.com.

On Saturday morning attendees were able to chat over breakfast before being bused to the meeting location, the Menihek Nordic Ski Chalet. The cozy atmosphere sparked great conservation between municipalities, as they presented their stewardship reports. Amongst other things, reports included, plans for new nature trails in Gambo, an upcoming nest box workshop in Steady Brook, and encouraging indications of changing attitudes towards conservation in Pouch Cove.    
Pictured left: The Menihek Nordic Ski Chalet, the venue for the 2018 Fall SAM Meeting. Pictured right: Attendees presenting their stewardship reports. 
SAM Staff provided an update on SAM's  5 central objectives  that are outlined in our budget and annual workplan, and how we have been achieving those objectives in the province. To learn more about SAM objectives and see the SAM Fall Meeting report check out the SAM Website.

Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) also reported on partner led projects that have been happening in the province. These projects include the DUC Grade 4 Wetland Field Trips, The DUC Nestbox Program, and the support of wetland policy. 
Pictured left: SAM Secretary and Town of Gander Councillor, Pat Woodford, geocaching in Labrador City. Learn more about the EHJV Stewardship Geocaches.Pictured right: Fall treasures found during the SAM Fall Meeting field trip on the Menihek Ski Trails.
After the formal business meeting, attendees listened to a presentation by the Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC) and their "Tailings to Biodiversity" project in Labrador City. The Town of Labrador City also arranged for a field trip that included a short nature walk through the Menihek Ski Trails, and a guided bus tour led by Gateway Labrador
Pictured left: SAM attendees stretched their legs and took in some Labrador beauty, as they walked the Menihek Ski Trails. Pictured right: SAM honours a leader in stewardship, Peter Reccord. (L-R Kathleen Blanchard Intervale and SAM Vice President; Peter Reccord, former Labrador City town councillor; Jonathan Sharpe, Sr. Wildlife Biologist Department of Fisheries and Land Resources
The meeting concluded on Saturday night with the SAM Networking Dinner. Thank you to the Menihek Ski Lodge for preparing an amazing meal and for The Town of Labrador City for arranging the details. In attendance at the meal were Mayor Wayne Button and Deputy Mayor Fabian Benoit of Labrador City,  and MHA of Labrador West Graham Letto. It was great to have so many Labrador West representatives at the meal, because SAM also honored a former Labrador City Councillor, Peter Reccord.

Thank you to all who were involved in organizing the SAM Fall Meeting 2018, and keep watching our website for details of the SAM Spring AGM 2019

SAM Network News & Updates

  • SAM Conservation Fund Scholarship Application 2019  The application form for this years Conservation Fund Scholarship is now available on our website! Deadline is May 1, 2019
  • SAM Funding Page Updated Use the SAM funding page as your guide! Now with 45 links to funding and grants for municipalities, there is something for your next stewardship project!
  • "Becoming an Outdoors Woman" (BOW) SAM Conservation Biologist, Laura King, was lucky enough to run an informational session at BOW this October. Learn more about the next session of BOW and reserve your spot!
  • Congratulations to Alexandra Hayward on receiving the 2018 SAM Scholarship On October 15, Alexandra Hayward was awarded the SAM Conservation Fund Scholarship. Thank you to the City of St. John's for hosting the event!
Congratulations Alexandra (Alex) Hayward on receiving the SAM 2018 Conservation Fund Scholarship! (L-R Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O`Leary City of St. John`s, Alex Hayward 2018 Conservation Fund Scholarship recipient,  Laura King SAM Conservation Biologist, Cynthia Downey SAM Treasurer, Mayor Danny Breen City of St. John`s.) 

"Becoming an Outdoors Woman" workshop 2018

Recently one of our Conservation Biologists, Laura King, had the chance to instruct a Wildlife & Edible Plant session at the "Becoming an Outdoors Woman"  , or BOW workshop. BOW is an annual outdoor education initiative organized by the Nl Wildlife Division.

BOW is for women 18 years of age or older, who wish to learn new outdoor recreation skills, or enhance their knowledge of fishing, hunting and other outdoor activities. Nearly 40 people gathered for this years workshop, with ages ranging from undergraduate students to retired professionals. Participants signed up for hands-on sessions, led by experienced instructors, on topics such as outdoor survival, firearm use, map and compass, fly fishing, and nature photography, just to name a few!  All sessions are at an introductory level, and all equipment is provided. 
Pictured left: Coltsfoot, a stubborn weed in the province that has been used to make tea and candy to soothe sore throats. Pictured right: Spore prints is one way to help identify wild mushrooms.
Laura had 20 participants for the Wildlife & Edible Plant session over the two day workshop. The session took place on the beautiful Stanleyville and Lomond River trails, in Gros Morne National park. Once on the trails, the session began with habitat types 101. Where do you look for edibles, and what might you find once you get there! Coniferous forests will have different soils and micro climates when compared with urban naturalized areas, but both can be excellent places to forage when done safely. Participants were schooled on edible berries and many of the in-season leafy edibles that lined the trails, such as coltsfoot, wild mint, and dandelion. They also learned about a few poisonous plants to identify and avoid in the field including deadly night shade.

At this time of year many mushrooms can be found along the trails in Gros Morne. (Disclaimer: Mushroom foraging can be deadly, and should be done with an experienced forager!). Laura invited participants to try and identify mushrooms by taking spore prints, identifying gill types and using a key.   
The fly tying session was another optional session provided by the BOW Workshop. Pictured left: Participants gaining hands on skills in fly tying;  Pictured right: First time flies!
The BOW program been running in the province for many years, and this years event was sponsored by Friends of Salmonier Nature Park, Department of Fisheries and Land ResourcesGros Morne National ParkSalmon Association of Eastern NewfoundlandUpper Humber Rod and Gun Association, and Barnes Sporting Goods.

BOW is also a great opportunity for SAM to connect with current and future outdoors women of the province. Laura spoke with many participants about SAM in their municipalities and how they can get involved in habitat stewardship.

The BOW Workshop was a great experience for SAM and we are looking forward to the next workshop, which is expected to be this spring at Max Simms Camp. Registration forms will be available online and at the BOW Facebook page. Financial assistance is also available for women who would like to attend, but face challenges in finding funds. Contact Friends of Salmonier Nature park for more information! 

Two communities enhance wetland habitat this fall 

October is a beautiful month to get outside and enjoy the SAM Management Units, and in some cases it also important to enhance these areasThe Town of Lewisporte and The Town of Steady Brook did just that this month during two outreach events. 

The Town of Lewisporte officially opened their Southwest Brook Estuary Bird Watching Trail. The trail is located just as you turn onto Route 340, The Road to the Isles, and is within Lewisporte's only Management Unit, The Bottom Brook Estuary. The trail excellent first stop for those travelling on Route 340, especially for tourists, birders, and those who would just like to stretch their legs.
Mayor Clarke of Lewisporte cuts the ribbon at the newly opened Bottom Brook Estuary Birding Trail
The trail boasts two wildlife watching platforms, where on any given day you can catch a glimpse of Canada Geese, Black Ducks, and a large number of shorebird species.There are also several informational panels along the trail about the area. The hope is this trail will educate visitors and residents about the importance of the natural estuary to the community of Lewisporte. 
Pictured above: The Lewiporte Wildlife Watching Platform that was built in partnership with The Town of Lewisporte and Ducks Unlimited Canada.
The Town of Steady Brook also participated in some habitat enhancement this month, and will soon become a haven for Goldeneye ducks on the west coast of the island. In partnership with Ducks Unlimited Canada, SAM and the Town of Steady Brook, a nestbox building workshop was held this October.

Goldeneye ducks along with Wood Ducks and Hooded Mergansers are cavity nesters, in other words they create a nest in a hollow of a tree trunk. In Newfoundland and Labrador there can be stiff competition for natural cavities, because of the lack of large mature trees. Nest boxes can help by providing nesting habitat for these waterfowl species.
The Osmonds of Steady Brook participated in the nest box building workshop and have become nest box stewards!
Some of the boxes built that night will be hung in the Town of Steady Brook's Management Units (MUs). The MUs are beautiful wetlands that open onto the Humber River. If done properly, nest boxes can help enhance wetland habitat.
Pictured left: Autumn colors in Steady Brook`s Wetland Habitat Management Unit. Pictured Right: Participants await eagerly as they learn how to construct nest boxes for their community of Steady Brook.
Wood Anniversary for the SAM Communities on the Burin: 5 Years of Stewardship
Several municipalities celebrated their silver or 25th anniversary this year, and we would also like to recognize some newer communities to SAM, and celebrate the wood anniversary. In 2013, three municipalities on the BurinPeninsula,  Frenchman`s CoveGarnish and St. Lawrence , signed Municipal Habitat Stewardship Agreements. 
Frenchman`s Coveand Garnish share a municipal boundary and a similar vision of habitat stewardship. The two communities worked together and  signed their agreements together 5 years ago, protecting over 950 acres.
The Frenchman`s cove Barasway, which connects the two municipalities, is ideal staging habitat for many waterfowl species and shorebirds, including the Red knot, a federally and provincially listed endangered species.  
Just across the Burin Peninsula is St. Lawrence. The community`s Management Unit spans the coastline for over 1500 acres is the habitat for many species of waterfowl, shorebirds and songbirds. 
These communities have an excellent example to follow, Winterland, also on the Burin Peninsula, just celebrated 21 years of habitat stewardship. A stewardship success story, Winterland has put their agreement to work and created anEcomuseum and trail system, a must see for tourists and locals alike.  Keep up the great work Burin! 
Costume Change: Identifying common birds in the fall and Winter Audubon.org
In the fall and winter many common birds stop putting energy into producing showy spring feathers that are used to attract a mate. Instead they climb into something more comfortable and their colours become a little more "chilled". 

Audobon.org has listed several common birds that you might not recognize in their cold weather plumage. For the full article click the link above!
1) American Goldfinch: From the lemony yellow of summer, the male American Goldfinch is much more relaxed in the winter. Click the picture to see all the stages on sibleyguides.com
2) Common Loon:  Seen on lakes and ponds all over Newfoundland and Labrador, in the winter many Common Loons migrate, but not always that far. Keep on the look out for a grey version of this common bird hanging around bays and inlets.
3)  Fall Warblers!: So many of the common warblers to the province have a costume change in the fall. Before migration you might have caught a glimpse of a dull yellowish bird... what was that?

Never fear! There are lots of blogs and website dedicated to deciphering  the different between these masters of disguise. The McGill Bird Observatory is a great place to get started on figuring your warblers! See the link below for an identification chart for Eastern Canada.

EHJV Partnership Clean up: September in Sandy Point 
SAM Conservation Biologist, Liz Belanzaranparticipated in the clean up of Sandy Point, hosted by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC)
Sandy Point Nature Reserve is protected by the NCC. The area is an important nesting habitat for numerous bird species, including the endangered Piping Plover. The unique salt marshes are also home to several rare plants like seaside lavender and saltwater cordgrass
Since 2013, the NCC has held clean ups of the marine debris that collects on the point.
During the 2018 clean up, participants started the day with the help of the Barachois Search and Rescue. They piled aboard the Search and Rescue boats and were ferried across to beach.
There was an excellent turnout for the event, around 25 people, all helping to clean up Sandy Point. Armed with garbage bags, and excellent weather, the group were able to collect two dumpsters of trash. 
Sandy Point was once a thriving community in Bay St. George. When the peninsula became an island due to erosion, the people of the community resettled to many of the nearby communities. Participants were also given the chance to visit the remains of the old Sandy Point settlement. Locals from the area still maintain the cemeteries that can be found on the island. 
The NCC in Newfoundland and Labrador host many events over the course of the year. For events near you check out conservationvolunteers.ca
If you have a photo  or a story you would like to submit for the SAM newsletter email samstewardship@gmail.com
Copyright © 2018 Stewardship Association of Municipalities, All rights reserved.