As we make our way into the new year, Friends of the Muskoka Watershed and the Muskoka Watershed Council are beginning our roll out of a series of programs and projects which will have a powerful, positive impact in the long-term sustainability and wise management of the health of Muskoka’s natural environment and, in particular, the Muskoka river watershed. This natural environment is the vital component of what makes Muskoka the place which it is. As we say, it is life AND livelihood.
Our first big effort is what we are calling “Environment Care”, and it is revolutionary in terms of the science of assessing the health of freshwater lakes and rivers. You can read some background on it here. Essentially, we are partnering with the University of Birmingham to utilize Muskoka’s lakes to assist in the testing and the refining of the assessment methods. Muskoka will be recognized on the world stage as an innovator and active participant in stepping up to and addressing environmental challenges.
If you have a vested interest in and love for Muskoka, be that a family cottage, a business, a recreational destination, or perhaps this has been your family home for generations, your support in becoming a Friend or a Patron will help us to facilitate this program and would be a great way to show how much Muskoka means to you.
This program, the first of many which will be guided by our Philosophy and Roadmap, fits well when measured against our 5-point process, here, excerpted from our roadmap:
Specifically, the work needed for wise management of our Muskoka watersheds includes:
- Assessment – ongoing research and monitoring of Muskoka watersheds to select appropriate environmental indicators that reflect what we value, detect changes in or from baseline conditions and any emerging threats,
- Outreach – ongoing two-way communication with Muskoka residents and policy makers to solicit input on what residents value about our watersheds, to seek knowledge on what trends in environmental condition they perceive and share with them the knowledge of what trends environmental scientists have seen, to solicit feedback on whether or not they are content with current conditions, and, finally, to solicit advice on and support for preferred solutions,
- Evaluation – ongoing tracking of the status and trends of all environmental threats that are of concern to the public and of remedial actions taken to fix the problems,
- Diagnosis – research to understand the causes of environmental deterioration or threats of deterioration, where the cause-effect linkages are not yet understood
- Action – ongoing action to prevent future problems from becoming serious, to remediate problems that are deemed serious, and to conduct follow-up monitoring to determine the success of restorative interventions.
In summary, the work of environmental management in Muskoka must include broad-scale determination of what environmental features we value, assessment of the status and trends of our watersheds in comparison to their valued status, diagnosis of the causes of environmental problems or threats, design and implementation of restorative policies or interventions, and follow-up re-assessments to determine if the environment has recovered.