The Don Watershed Regeneration Council read with interest the Winter 2007/2008 issue of ON Nature and its cover story “Raising the dead,” by Sharon Oosthoek, on the return of the Atlantic salmon to Lake Ontario. While the story was indeed engaging and informative, it failed to mention a major initiative, launched in April 2006, to restore Atlantic salmon to Lake Ontario. This initiative, called Bring Back the Salmon, is a shining example of a meaningful partnership between public and private sector groups seeking to engender positive environmental change. Australian winemaker Banrock Station Wines has committed $1,250,000 over five years, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) has committed $250,000 over five years and the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) and the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) are working together (with a wide range of conservation groups) to manage and carry out the actual restoration work. Right now the focus is on the Credit River, Duffins Creek and Cobourg Creek, into which over 700,000 Atlantic salmon have been stocked since the project started. In addition, the project has led to major habitat enhancements that will give the salmon a fighting chance at survival. All indications thus far are that the fish are thriving.
Bring Back the Salmon is one of the largest species restoration projects ever undertaken in North America, but it would not be possible without the involvement from both the public and private sectors. Banrock Station Wines, LCBO, OFAH, MNR and all the other partners have created something unique, and they are effecting positive change.
Once people learn of such great initiatives, they will see that they too can bring about change and help improve our environment. We must all pitch in. It’s our obligation as members of this great community called Earth.
Phil Goodwin, Chairman, Don Watershed Regeneration Council
Editor’s Note: Sharon Oosthoek’s story focused on efforts to bring back Lake Ontario’s native Atlantic salmon. All other attempts to re-introduce salmon in the lake have focused on non-native species.
Plight of the farmer
From my experience working with Ontario Landowners Association (OLA) president Jack MacLaren and other OLA members, I know that they care as much about endangered species and landscapes as everyone else. The OLA bulldozing of some shrike habitat on the Carden Plain during the recent provincial election as described in Edward Cheskey’s “Plight of the shrike” [Winter 2007/2008] was a publicity stunt to help endangered species, not harm them.
The OLA action was intended to profile the plight of Ontario farmers who are forced by law to forgo income to help save endangered species, something that no one else in the province is asked to do. We don’t ask doctors, teachers, politicians, labourers or business people to give up income to conserve nature, but the Endangered Species Act (ESA) demands that farmers do so without compensation.
I support the OLA position that farmers should be compensated when required to take land out of production to aid endangered species. The ESA should be amended or complementary legislation enacted to require compensation for landowners throughout the province who provide ecological services. Farmers and landowners should be paid on a point system for providing environmental goods and services like water conservation, wildlife habitat, soil conservation, endangered species habitat, carbon sequestration, etc.
Instead of penalizing farmers for trying to make a living, we should help them by paying them to provide ecological services that benefit us all.
Keep up the great work at ON Nature!
Frank De Jong, Leader of the Green Party of Ontario