Thursday 9 December 2021

SAM Newsletter #32: Winter 2021

St. Lawrence

Celebrating the Town of St. Lawrence and their Municipal Stewardship Agreement Expansion

SAM would like to congratulate the Town of St. Lawrence on the expansion of their Municipal Stewardship Agreement!
A couple of weeks ago, SAM Conservation Biologist Zachary and Jonathan Sharpe of the Provincial Wildlife Division met with the Town of St. Lawrence to officially finalize the recent expansion to their Municipal Stewardship Agreement.
Blackpoll Warbler (Setophaga striata)
The initial agreement, signed in 2013, protected a 400-metre-wide buffer along much of the southwestern coastline of St. Lawrence. In 2021, the agreement was amended to expand the conservation area further eastward to include Cape Chapeau Rouge, accounting for an additional 350 hectares of wildlife habitat. The amendment also provided a 150-metre segment of the western coastline buffer to be excluded from the Conservation Area to provide an access route to the coast for Canada Fluorspar Inc mine infrastructure.
St. Lawrence Coastline
These amendments to their Municipal Habitat Stewardship Agreement, allows the Town of St. Lawrence to expand the conservation area, providing protection for additional wildlife habitat and showing leadership in conservation. This ensures that more wildlife habitat will remain intact for generations to come, and we can continue enjoying the tranquil beauty of nature. Thank you, the Town of St. Lawrence, for your continued pursuit of environmental stewardship.

2021 Fall Business Meeting - Deer Lake, NL

A very productive weekend in the Town of Deer Lake. Thank you to all member communities who attended the SAM 2021 Fall Business Meeting at the Holiday Inn Express Deer Lake.

We hope everyone enjoyed themselves, and we would like to say thank you to all involved in the planning and execution of the event. Special thanks to Deer Lake Town Clerk Lori Humphrey for the tremendous amount of work put in, Braketime Catering for the delicious food, and to SAM Staff for organizing the meeting and running fun interpretive events throughout the weekend.

The SAM 2022 Spring AGM will be hosted by the City of St. John's, more details to be announced in the new year. More information on SAM Meetings can be found here.

Photo 1: SAM Fall Business Meeting 2021. Hosted by the beautiful Town of Deer Lake.
Photo 2: Members and Partners that joined the Fall Business Meeting virtually.

Typically at a SAM Meeting, SAM Staff or local guides take meeting attendees out into the field to a special place within the host community so that attendees can experience an in-person educational interpretive walk. SAM Staff led attendees of the Fall Business Meeting along the Humber River Nature Trail in Deer Lake, where meeting attendees got to learn about Atlantic Salmon conservation, as well as local vegetation.

Protecting Atlantic Salmon rivers within your community will ensure we can continue to have salmon for many years to come.
SAM Conservation Biologist Liz providing interpretation along the Humber River in Deer Lake, educating Fall Business Meeting Attendees on the importance of Atlantic Salmon Conservation - programming like this wouldn't be possible without funding from the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation.
Landowner Stewardship Agreement
The Zurels are a unique story. Sarah and Jo Mark live on a gorgeous, well-manicured, and wonderfully maintained 5-acre property on Western Round Pond, in the beautiful coastal Town of Portugal Cove - St. Philip's on the Northeast Avalon. The Zurels share Western Round Pond with three other properties, all of which lay along the pond’s northern boundary, with an intact and undeveloped naturally biodiverse environment to the south of the pond that provides important habitat for resident species like American Black ducks (Anas rubripes), a Common loon (Gavia immer), a family of Northern flickers (Colaptes auratus), a myriad of songbirds, a healthy trout population and some of the best and biggest blueberries Jo Mark and Sarah have ever had.
The Zurel's property after restoration.
Photo Credit: Murray's Garden Centre and Landscape Services
Unfortunately, it is common practice in our province to remove all pondside and riparian vegetation along wetland borders in exchange for luscious lawns and/or an impressive viewshed. Aware that removing a vegetated buffer zone is not a positive practice for wildlife and wildlife habitat, the Zurels wanted to consciously transform their property, specifically the 20 meters of lawn that extends right to the wetted edge of the pond. They also wanted to continue to enjoy the naturally biodiverse area south of the pond and recognized that maintaining a continuous buffer around a wetland can facilitate healthier wildlife habitat and encourage positive wildlife use of habitat on their own property.
Sarah and Jo Mark Zurel reached out to Murray's Garden Centre and Landscape Services, a local business with the capacity for ecological landscaping, to deliver their vision. With the help of Murray’s Landscape Designer Elizabeth Fowler and the Portugal Cove-St. Philip's Advisory Committee on the Environment (ACE), the Zurels were able to create an ecological landscape plan to restore the natural pond side buffer.
The Zurel's property after restoration.
Photo Credit: Murray's Garden Centre and Landscape Services
With such impressive private landowner stewardship, SAM reached out to Jo Mark and Sarah to congratulate them on a commendable project. To support their dedication to conservation and highlight the value of riparian buffers, SAM and the Zurels reached a Private Landowner Conservation Agreement. The Zurels have agreed to govern their actions within 20 meters of the water’s edge to not knowingly harm wildlife habitat and contact SAM prior to any development within the conservation area, for best management practices. SAM would like to recognize the exemplary manner in which the Zurels have undertaken conservation and stewardship on their own property. While a great number of resources were used for this project, a proactive approach to landownership with a stewardship mindset might avoid the unnecessary degradation of wildlife habitat. Instead of chopping down a tree for a better view of the pond, or to have a bigger lawn, leaving the natural buffer encourages more wildlife use of private property.
Jo Mark and Sarah Zurel with their signed Landowner Stewardship Agreement.

2022 SAM Scholarship

The first scholarship was awarded in 2015, and since then SAM has awarded annually a $1000 scholarship to a student from Newfoundland and Labrador whose interests, activities and post-secondary goals are focused on the conservation of habitat in this province.

The annual scholarship comes from the SAM Conservation Fund. To be eligible, the applicant:

  1. Must be a resident of Newfoundland and Labrador;

  2. Is (or will be) enrolled in a post-secondary program in the 2022-2023 academic year;

  3. Demonstrate an active commitment to conservation in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The application for the 2022 scholarship is now available on our website, click here to apply.​

The deadline for the 2022 scholarship applications is May 1st, 2022.

In The Community
SAM Outreach and Education.
2020 a difficult year to visit with groups and provide educational opportunities for kids and adults alike. 2021 has provided SAM's Outreach Coordinator, Karleena multiple opportunities to get out into the community. She has been quite busy, visiting Girl Guide and Scout groups across the Northeast Avalon!
Macpherson Scouts and Cowan Heights Scouts completing Salmon Conservation Programming
Thanks to funding from the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation (ASCF), Karleena has been providing Atlantic Salmon Educational Programming to multiple groups. This program involves learning about the unique life cycle of Atlantic Salmon, and learning about the importance of Atlantic Salmon Habitat  Conservation - which is important for a variety of reasons including social, cultural, recreational, economic, recreational, and food security reasons, as well as being an indicator of environmental quality. Some groups have even had the opportunity to get out and see local salmon rivers via interpretive walks.
53rd St. John's Pathfinders/Rangers participate in an Atlantic Salmon Conservation session
and Interpretive Walk around Quidi Vidi Lake
One Girl Guide group took advantage of the interpretive walk - the 53rd St. John’s Pathfinder/Ranger Unit - who met with both Karleena and Zach (SAM Conservation Biologist) for a walk around Quidi Vidi Lake to learn about the reintroduction of Atlantic Salmon back into Rennie's Mill River thanks to the Salmonid Association of Eastern Newfoundland, and the construction of the Fish Ladder at the mouth of Quidi Vidi Lake.
Karleena has also had the opportunity to visit some local Guide and Scout groups in person, and have even met with a couple of groups in other provinces virtually to talk about what SAM does and how we help conserve wetland habitats and other special places in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Atlantic Salmon Habitat Conservation Presentations
Photo 1: 2nd Beachy Cove Sparks and Brownies
Photo 2: 4th Mount Pearl Sparks and 8th Mount Pearl Brownies
Photo 1:
 8th Mount Pearl Guides
Finally, Karleena joined Danielle from Ducks Unlimited Canada to plant some trees at Octagon Pond in Paradise back in October with some local Girl Guide groups. And on another occasion they planted more trees off Red Head Road in Flatrock with some more Girl Guides. In total 300 spruce saplings were planted. See the next segment for more information on this project.
SAM's Outreach and Educational Programs are free of charge and are for any age group - email to book a presentation.

For Guiding and Scouting groups we offer an exclusive SAM Crest upon completion of the program!
3rd Torbay Brownies and 2nd Torbay Pathfinders participate in a tree planting event with DUC and SAM in Flatrock, NL
Climate Action: One Tree at a Time
A white spruce (Picea glauca) sapling, freshly planted.

Contributed by: Danielle Fequet, Conservation Programs Specialist, Ducks Unlimited Canada (

Even though climate change is an Earth wide challenge that requires transformative action, local level efforts are also part of the solution. Over the Fall, the Stewardship Association of Municipalities (SAM) and Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) staff were joined by Girl Guides of NL members to plant 300 native white spruce (Picea glauca). The trees were generously donated by the Wooddale Tree Nursery and were planted in two communities on the Northeast Avalon Peninsula. These efforts were part of broader DUC projects focusing on climate change mitigation and freshwater resources funded in part by Environment and Climate Change Canada through the Climate Action and Awareness Fund and EcoAction Community Fund, respectively.

3rd Torbay Brownies planting trees in Flatrock, NL
White spruce (Picea glauca) is native to the boreal forests of Newfoundland and Labrador and has specialized adaptations that keep them hardy and healthy in our cool climate. For example, their conical shape and flexible branches are an especially effective design for shedding snow after a heavy snowfall and their thin and waxy evergreen needles (modified leaves) offer protection from drying out. Also, because they keep their needles all year (are evergreen), they can undergo photosynthesis during the winter when the intensity of sunlight reaching them is weak. Through the process of photosynthesis, green plants use carbon dioxide, water and sunlight to create energy that gets stored inside their biomass. Trees for example store carbon within their wood. This is important because excess greenhouse gas in the atmosphere such as carbon dioxide, traps heat energy from the sun in the Earth’s atmosphere and is contributing to drastic changes in the natural systems that regulate climate.
2nd Torbay Pathfinders planting trees in Flatrock, NL

In Flatrock, a SAM member community since 2013, Girl Guides (Brownies and Pathfinders) planted 150 trees in a former woodlot in the forested area behind the Redhead Recreation Complex. While in Paradise, Girl Guides (Sparks and Guides) planted 150 spruce trees at Octagon Pond near the boat launch and trail. By planting trees, we are taking small steps towards removing carbon out of the atmosphere, where it contributes to the greenhouse effect, and into trees that can store it for decades to come. At Octagon Pond, planting areas were chosen within the riparian area (the land area directly around rivers, lakes and ponds) where some of the vegetation had previously been cleared. This was done because, revegetating and maintaining healthy riparian areas provide further benefits like supporting wildlife habitat, reducing shoreline erosion, and supporting water quality.

While small local efforts won’t solve complicated environmental issues, like climate change, small acts of service like planting native trees can help support healthy ecosystems. A healthy environment is essential for communities to thrive so let’s continue to think BIG and act locally!

1st Larkhall Sparks and 9th Mount Pearl Guides getting ready to plant trees
at Octagon Pond, Paradise, NL
Executive Officers Election

At the SAM Fall Business Meeting in Deer Lake, an election was held for the Executive Officers Positions of President and Secretary.

Congratulations to Pat Woodford, councillor with the Gander Town Council, on being re-elected SAM President!
Congratulations to Darren Sheppard, Manager of the community-based, environmental non-profit, Indian Bay Ecosystem Corporation (IBEC), and representative from the Town of Indian Bay, on being elected SAM Secretary.
Visit our website to learn more about SAM's Executive Officers and Staff.
Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia) - Photo: Catherine Dale
Birders are "Rocking"
The Newfoundland Breeding Bird Atlas
Contributed by: Dr. Catherine Dale, Newfoundland Breeding Bird Atlas Coordinator, Birds Canada (
Summer is short in Newfoundland and Labrador, but it’s still hard to believe that the second field season for the Newfoundland Breeding Bird Atlas has come to a close. For those of you unfamiliar with the Atlas, it’s a 5-year citizen science project that aims to map the distribution and abundance of all the bird species breeding on the island.
The success of the project depends on volunteer birders contributing their time and sightings to our online database, so we’re thrilled that 45 new volunteers have signed up since last fall. And one look at the Atlas coverage map proves that our atlassers made the most of every moment of summer: over the past year, they contributed more than 2,000 hours of effort and collected data on bird sightings in 212 new atlas squares!
Bird Atlas Team 2021 - Photo: Darren Sheppard
This summer, we were also very excited to have 2 full-time field technicians, Megan Buers and Blair Dudeck, doing Atlas surveys during the peak breeding season. Along with myself and Atlas Assistant Coordinator Jenna McDermott, these hardy folks were tasked with atlassing some of the harder-to-reach squares in central Newfoundland. The four of us spent five weeks braving the ravenous bugs of the interior while camping out along woods roads and in gravel pits, collecting tons of data and a few stories along the way. (To read some of these stories, check out the fall Atlas newsletter on our website.)
Gray Catbirds (Dumetella carolinensis) - Photo: Megan Buers
One of the highlights of this summer was a major incursion of White-winged Crossbills (Loxia leucoptera). Gray Catbirds (Dumetella carolinensis) were also reported in 11 squares, and even observed entering a nest near Grand Falls-Windsor. This species is listed as a rare breeder on our provincial checklist, and published maps of the breeding range don’t even include Newfoundland!
Boreal Owl (Aegolius funereus) - Photo: Jared Clarke
As winter sets in across the island, here at the Atlas office we’re already starting to think about spring and the 2022 Nocturnal Owl Survey. This popular survey, which takes place between April 1st and May 15th, makes an important contribution to understanding owl population health across the country. If you’re interested in participating in the survey and learning more about owls in your area, contact me at
The Beautiful Barrens of Cape Freels

For some, experiencing the Hyper-Oceanic Barren Ecozone of Cape Freels and the Northwestern coast of Bonavista Bay for the first time might be a bit underwhelming. From first glance, thriving signs of natural life seem few and far between, with a scattered tree dotting the landscape, rocks and boulders covering and erratically placed along the landscape, and an expansive vista that seemingly never ends, extending forever into the Atlantic Ocean. As many residents and locals know, this is far from the truth - Cape Freels is teething with biodiversity and natural life.

SAM Conservation Biologist Zach visiting New-Wes-Valley's Queen's Meade Conservation Area.
SAM Conservation Biologist Zachary Burrows recently travelled to the Northern coast of the Island, visiting the municipalities of Centreville-Wareham-Trinity, Indian Bay, New-Wes-Valley, and Carmanville. Learning about the different ways our municipalities have led conservation in the area was impressive: from the beautifully designed and welcoming Wetland Interpretation Centre in Carmanville and its associated Wetland Nature Walking trail, to the Queen’s Meade bird blind in Newtown and the often frequented Business Pond walking trail, the hiking network around Centreville-Wareham-Trinity’s Black’s Brook and Southwest Feeder Ponds, and finally Indian Bay’s municipal park and campground and the headquarters of the critically connected and conservation champions that are the Indian Bay Ecosystem Corporation (IBEC).
Cape Freels Beach
To say the area of Northwestern Bonavista Bay is barren and bleak is far from accurate. Conservation efforts and municipal leadership aside, Cape Freels is a haven and refuge for many wildlife species and is characterized by remarkably rich freshwater and brackish ponds, expansive shallow coastal waters, exposed mudflats, sandy beaches and dunes, numerous small islands and shoals extending several kilometres into the ocean, all which provide critical nesting and staging habitat for shorebirds, seabirds, waterfowl, songbirds, and raptors. During the spring and fall migrations, the area is inundated with large flocks of migrating waterfowl like Common goldeneye, Greater scaup, and Green-winged teal. Other waterfowl, such as American Black duck and Common eider, utilize the freshwater ponds in the area as breeding habitat. Shorebirds such as Ruddy turnstones, Black-bellied and semipalmated plovers, and a myriad of different species of sandpiper all rest and feed on the food abundant mudflats and sandy beaches of Cape Freels during their autumnal migration south. Seabirds like Arctic and Common terns have been regularly observed in the hundreds, and Northern gannets have been noted feeding in the coastal wetlands.
Dunlin (Calidris alpina)
During his visit to the area, Kaylene Stagg of the Indian Bay Ecosystem Corporation, was an excellent and hospitable host, taking Zach on a walking tour of the Cape while monitoring for shorebirds. Unfortunately, his visit did not align with an abundance of shorebirds, as it was outside of traditionally peak migration season, and the legal hunting season was underway, potentially frightening away many habitual species of bird. They did observe some adorable semipalmated plovers, but what really drew their eyes was the beauty that surrounds. The thick peatland that inundates the landscape is undeniable, creating a mat of dense and diverse vegetation, from crowberry to bakeapples, from cranberries to partridgeberries.
Semipalmated Plovers (Charadrius semipalmatus)
Both Federal and Provincial Species at Risk can be found here; Piping plover, Red knot, Peregrine falcon, Rusty blackbirds, and Short-eared owls are some of the more common, uncommon species to find here. While the importance of the area for species like these is undeniable, a sense of environmental protection and oversight might be missing for the long-term management of biodiversity within Cape Freels. New-Wes-Valley are valiantly leading the protection of Queen’s Meade in Newtown through their Municipal Stewardship Agreement and pursuing additional conservation and environmental protection would seek to compliment this important mutual agreement. It would be great to see this critically important habitat maintained for future generations to enjoy, so that our children and their children can see the beauty that is the barrens of Cape Freels.

2021 Stewardship Anniversaries

Another year is coming to a close, and 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 (2001)

10 years since signed (2011)
Deer Lake
Steady Brook

5 years since signed (2016)
Indian Bay

Congratulations to the town of Main Brook for signing their agreement in May of 2021!

Congratulations to the town of St. Lawrence for signing their expanded agreement in 2021!
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
Millbrook Mall, P.O. Box 20024 · Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador A2H 7J5

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