Participants on the Biodiversity Tour explored the rugged rocks and caverns of Greig's Caves south of Lion's Head.
We carefully climbed the rugged rocks at Greig's Caves while glancing up at the cavernous dolostone looming overhead. Our guides Sean Liipere, Program Manager for the Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association and Jenna McGuire, naturalist at the Bruce Peninsula National Park, excitedly pointed upwards to the old white cedar growing out of the cliff. Over a century ago fires had decimated so many of the Peninsula's ancient forests it was possible to see the waters of Georgian Bay then turn and look at Lake Huron.
We were on a day-long Biodiversity Tour June 23 to celebrate the launch of the Bruce Peninsula Conservation and Stewardship Plan, a community action initiative to protect, maintain and restore the rich diversity of the Peninsula's plant, fish and wildlife through land and water conservation.
About 40 of us, comfortably ensconced on a school bus, experienced the seven unique ecological environments of Bruce Peninsula which make-up the islands of Tobermory to Chief's Point on the Lake Huron coast and to Cape Croker on the Georgian Bay coast. Forests, open lands, alvars, inland waters, Great Lakes shorelines, coastal wetlands and nearshore waters distinguish the Bruce Peninsula for its abundance of rare and endangered species.
Fortified with cookies, apples and oranges provided by Sean and Jenna, we toured six ecological sites while learning about First Nations' tales of historic low water levels (backed by science); how the design of the Lady Slipper orchid guides insects to capture pollen and studied photos of flora and insects on an iPad.
One of the highlights was a visit to the Six Streams initiative, an alternative livestock watering site in upper Stokes River funded by the EcoAction Program and Ontario Trillium Foundation. This project, managed by Neils Munk, works with farmers on the Stokes River and Old Woman's River to provide stream side fencing and solar-powered pumped water troughs so cattle do not enter streams to drink. When the project is completed, a reduction of approximately 335 kilos of phosphorus will be achieved. Judges Creek will eventually be a part of this initiative.
The Steering Committee responsible for working on the Bruce Peninsula Stewardship and Conservation Plan are joined by members of the Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Reserve Association Board of Directors, and local dignitaries who attended the launch of the Plan. In the centre of the photo, Sean Liipere (in shorts), Co-ordinator of the Project is joined by Elizabeth Thorn, Chair of the Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Reserve Association.
Returning to the Lion's Head Arena, we were feted with gourmet appetizers prepared by the Ferndale and Lion's Head Lionesses followed by congratulatory remarks from Councillor Tom Boyle, Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula; John Close, Mayor, Town of South Bruce Peninsula and Warden of Bruce County; Milt McIver, Mayor of the Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula and MPP Bill Walker. Music was provided by local musician Bobby Dean Blackburn.
Successful funding for the Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association results from the hard work of chair Elizabeth Thorn. Major funding for Conservation and Stewardship Plan was contributed by the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation.
For further information about upcoming events, visit the Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association at bpba.ca.
-- Guest Writer