This is where we list non-watershed environmental articles we feel are of interest to everyone.
Drinking Water Test Water sample bottles for private citizen drinking water can be picked up and dropped off (within 24 hours) at Huntsville 34 Chaffey Street Monday to Thursday 8:30am – 2:30pm Closed between 12:30pm – 1:30pm Burks Falls Water bottles for private system testing are available by a new self serve unit inside the front door of the Burk's Falls office for pick-up and drop-off. 17 Copeland St Burk's Falls Information on water testing and submitting a well water sample can be found at : http://www.simcoemuskokahealth.org/Topics/SafeWater/drinkingwater/watertesting/sampledropoff.aspx
Choosing a water treatment system information available at: http://www.healthunit.org/water/infosheet/system.htm
Information from the Ontario Government found at: www.ontario.ca/page/wells-your-property
licensing individuals and companies who construct a well
choosing a location for a new well (i.e., siting)
constructing a well
maintaining a well
abandoning a well (plugging and sealing it)
reporting well activities (e.g.,completing and submitting well records)
Caring for your septic system information available at: http://www.uoguelph.ca/orwc/Resources/documents/care_and_feeding.pdf
Information from North Bay Mattawa Conservation Authority found at: http://www.nbmca.on.ca/site/indexd.asp?id=159
Rescue a sick abandoned wild animal What to do? Information available at: www.ontario.ca/page/rescue-sick-injured-or-abandoned-wild-animal
Bears What to do? Information available at: www.ontario.ca/document/bear-wise-activity-book
Coyotes, wolves and foxes What to do? Information available at: www.ontario.ca/page/preventing-and-managing-conflicts-coyotes-wolves-and-foxes
Mice and Rats Know how to prevent disease. Information available at: http://www.cdc.gov/hantavirus/pdf/HPS_Brochure.pdf
Mosquitoes and Ticks
Protect yourself against lime disease. Information available at: http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/public/publications/disease/lyme.aspx
Protect yourself against West Nile virus. Information available at: www.ontario.ca/page/outdoor-health#section-2
Safe Boating Guide. Information available at: http://www.tc.gc.ca/media/documents/marinesafety/TP-511e.pdf?WT.mc_id=ieln
Watch your Wake Information available at: http://www.foca.on.ca/watch-your-wake/
Shoreline owners guide to healthy waterfronts Information available at: http://www.foca.on.ca/shoreline-owners-guide-to-healthy-waterfronts/
Aquatic invasive species prevention. Information available at: https://foca.on.ca/ais-monitoring-volunteer-resources/
The landowner's guide to controlling invasive woodland plants Information available at: http://www.ontarioinvasiveplants.ca/files/LandownerGuideInvasives_web.pdf
Beautiful non invasive plants for your garden Information available at: http://www.ontarioinvasiveplants.ca/files/GMI_Booklet_spreads_2011_Final_web.pdf
Care for your Shoreline Information available at:
Care for Wetlands Information available at: http://www.muskokawatershed.org/programs/best-practices-program/caring-for-wetlands/
Storm water Management Information available at: http://www.muskokawatershed.org/programs/best-practices-program/stormwater-management/
Low Impact Development Information available at: http://www.muskokawatershed.org/programs/best-practices-program/low-impact-development/
Composting in Bear Country
We live in an area that is predominately sand & gravel with very little topsoil and my wife loves to garden so we need lots of compost to add nutrients and improve the soil. It always bothers me when I hear people say they have abandoned composting because they are afraid of attracting bears. Unfortunately MNR and other groups reinforce this idea by include composting in their list of simplified suggestions to avoid attracting bears.
We have bears in our area and have had them in our yard on several occasions. Not once have we had bears bother our compost bins in the 15 years that we have lived here. Here are some tried and tested common sense tips.
1.Ideally locate your compost bins so that they get at least 6 hours of sun a day (for maximun production of compost) will get rained on and are near your gardens (to minimize your workload) but out of eyesight so that you don't need to spend time creating bins that are visually attractive.
2. DO NOT use the plastic compost bins that are used in urban (city) areas for making compost in bear country. Bears associate plastic bins with garbage cans and will smash them open if there is the slightest suspicion they might contain garbage.
We have 3 active compost bins and one bin for storing some of last years leaves. We use standard wooden4 foot x 4 foot scrap pallets. The pallets are stood on end to form a square bin - you can either wire or nail them together so the sides of your bin don't keep falling down.
You can cut one pallet in half to make a short wall if you find that makes it easier to access the contents. In the spring we tend to temporarily remove one wall when emptying a bin. For ease of removal we tend to wire the removable wall in place. We do however use the plastic compost bins for temporary storage of excess FINISHED compost (good dirt).
3. The rule about alternating a 4 - 6 inch layer of green and a layer of leaves plus a bit of good topsoil, loam or manure is standard practice. ( the dirt or manure provides "starter bacteria" for the composting process).
The alternating layers speeds up the composting process and avoids the smell of rotting green vegetation.
In bear season we DO NOT put whole fruit or vegetables (such as carrots, potatoes, squash etc) into the compost bin. If we have a small amount, my wife uses an old blender that she got at a garage sale and we grind up this material and bury it deep in the active bin. If we have a large amount we would either bury it a long way from the house or just put it in the garbage. Food scraps especially meat, fish etc do not belong in a compost bin.
4. If your bins are located in a sunny area, have a good mix of green vegetation & leaves, are stirred on a regular basis and kept at the correct moisture content (moist like a squeezed out sponge) the bin will produce usable compost in 1-2 months.
Our bins do not get the 6 hours of sun and I don't tend to fuss with them a lot so our composting cycle is more like 3-4 months.
In the spring we will have one bin ready to use on the garden, one that we started to fill the previous spring and one that was filled last fall and winter. As the "ready to use" bin is being emptied any material that was slow to compost can be shifted to another bin.
The "ready to use" bin will be emptied by the time all the spring planting is done and will be designated as the next bin to start filling. At some point in the summer I will empty the bin that we filled last summer and store any usable compost in some plastic compost bins we used to use in the city.
Again DO NOT use this type of bin to make compost in bear country. Finished "ready to use" compost on the other hand is just good dirt and bears won't waste time on raiding a bin full of dirt.
In early fall I will empty the final bin that was started the year before, storing any finished compost in another plastic bin and the material that wasn't fully broken down goes back into the working bin. We will then have about 1 1/2 bins to take all the material from the gardens and flower beds when they are bedded down for the winter.
5. We tend to put fruit & vegetables out in the compost bin during the winter months - the local winter birds and animals help themselves and by spring everything has vanished or rotted away before the bears are out and prowling around.
6. The wooden pallets will deteriorate and after 3-4 years will need to be replaced or repaired. Scrap pallets can generally be picked up for free from factories, large retailers or building supply stores. Always ask permission because some better quality pallets are re-usable and not free for the taking.
7. There are a number of books and pamphlets on the basics of composting available - check with your local library or horticultural society. One thing to avoid putting into your compost bin is weed seeds since your compost pile may not get hot enough sterilize them.
To reiterate - when composting in bear country:
●Do not use the plastic compost bins
●No whole fruit, vegetables, table scraps and especially no meat in the compost
●Control odors by alternating layers of green & brown and if the compost gets too wet and starts to just rot - aerate/turn the pile, add leaves etc. Normally when you are turning an active heap it should have an earthy smell and be quite warm in the center.
●Remember this is a natural process - another one of nature's gifts - you don't need to fuss with the pile unless you want to produce compost quickly.
There are a number of benefits to making your own compost.
●Save your money - you make it rather than buying it.
●The quality of the compost is often much better with - no pesticides, herbicides or other chemicals.
●You will keep all that material out of the landfill.
Contributed by: Stan Walker, 2015. Thank you Stan.