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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