Save French’s Hill Forest article by Dr. John Bacher and Danny Beaton

October 1, 2015

Is a Waverley Mega Quarry in Tiny Township, Simcoe County worth this threat to the Alliston Aquifer…again?

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(l): Dr. Bacher and Danny Beaton. Photos by Les Stewart, SpringwaterParkcc.org.

An original article from Dr. John Bacher:

Save French’s Hill Forest

Tiny Township is blessed to have some of the rarest and largest old growth forests in southern Ontario south of the Canadian Shield, an ecosystem known as the Mixed Woods Plains. It is tragic that one of the best examples of this precious and threatened relic of Turtle Island before the impact of Euro-Canadian colonization, is now threatened by a proposed zoning amendment. It would change the zoning of lands now protected as Rural and Agricultural and designated as Significant Forest by Tiny Township, to permit the expansion of the existing Beamish quarry.

In addition to devastating forests the Beamish quarry expansion proposal is an attack on the world’s purest water, the same important source for the Alliston Aquifer that was battled over in the long struggle against Dump Site 41. Elaine Stephenson a champion of the French’s Hill Forest, has explained how she appreciated from childhood how the purity of her well water from this unusual geological feature. On this basis the quarry scheme was denounced by a leading foe of Dump Site 41, Stephen Odgen, at a October 13, 2009 meeting of the Tiny Township Council.

Part of the opposition that the Beamish scheme encountered when it was put forward at two meeting of Tiny Township Council in the winter of 2015 was that the pit proposal should not go forward until the work of he Severn Sound Environmental Association on the natural heritage of Tiny Township is properly reflected in its land use planning and zoning documents. This is an excellent critique since current land use planning both in Tiny Township and throughout Simcoe County does not make the best use of scientific studies of wildlife habitat, forest cover and old growth.

The critique of residents who have mobilized themselves into a Save the Waverly Uplands alliance is bolstered by the background environmental research that has been done into the provincially significant woodlands that surround the existing Beamish quarry. The work of the Severn Sound group builds on an earlier study, which in a tragically slow way, is shaping environmental planning in Simcoe County. This is report on “The Development of a Natural Heritage System for Simcoe County.” It was prepared by the Gartner Lee engineering firm for the Simcoe County Council in 1996.

The Gartner Lee report, now almost two decades old, provides a reasonable way in which to protect Simcoe County’s forests. It called for the protection of large blocks of forests of around 40 hectares in size, which is responsible for the current mapping of French’s Hill as a provincially significant woodland. Such woodlands straddle both sides of the border between Tiny and Tay townships.

The slowness in the adaption of the Garner Lee report into the Simcoe County official plan is one of the reasons the municipality has been ridiculed by the respected Neptis Foundation as the “Wild West” of urban sprawl.

The Gartner Lee study recognizes that, “The extensive tracts of forests” that are found in Tiny Township “are important habitat for a number of forest interior species as well as for mammals such as Black Bear, Martin and Fisher which have large home ranges.”

The Gartner Lee report recognizes the value of the large tracts of forests that endure in Tiny Township that are old growth as surrounds the Beamish quarry. It expressed amazement that here there are still “vast tracts of forest” in predominately hardwood old growth conditions. They are it stressed, a vivid contrast to the coniferous plantations established in other parts of Simcoe County to rescue it from desertification.

The old growth forests of Tiny Township Garner Lee stressed “represent the last vestiges of what southern-Ontario looked like in pre-settlement times. Unlike much of southern Ontario, where the original woodlands have become highly fragmented” these forest remain in “unbroken forest blocks.” Such conditions it found are important for wildlife as “refuges from predation” for “foraging habitat” and to secure “diversity in the landscape.”

The insights of the Gartner Lee report in protecting the old growth forests of southern Ontario are reflected in the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) Natural Heritage Manual. They stress that old growth forests “are particularly valuable for several reasons, including their contributions of species genetics and ecosystem diversity.” One obvious example of this is that their survival allow winds and birds to transfer native hardwood species to managed plantation forests.

The MNR manual provides a careful definition of what constitutes an old growth forest. This is done through hitting any of three measures, age (around 100 years), basal area or diameter width. One basic approach is 10 or more trees at least 50 cm in diameter per hectare, or 8 trees of the same area of 40 cm.

When I saw tree cutting recently at French’s Hill I was horrified to see an old growth forest slashed for no apparent reason than to downgrade its rating in the MNR manual. The forest was of predominately giant sugar maples, regenerating in a healthy fashion with a blanket of seedlings. However, the quite recently stumps seemed to offer proofs that many giants had been cut with the deliberate purpose of reducing the density per hectare required to be considered an old growth forest.

Danny Beaton a Mohawk of the Turtle Clan has viewed the destruction of the French’s Hill Forest. On it he notes, that “The Nanfan Treaty states that the Iroquois Confederacy have a right to hunt and fish on our shared territories with the Ojibway, Huron and Wendat Nations in Georgian Bay. Why do corporations continuing to rape and pillage our forests, wetlands and water ways in Georgian Bay? Why do company’s continue to stake claim to the last endangered trees and forests with immunity from County of Simcoe Governance.? Why are citizens being ignored in county meetings that are set up for citizen participation and shared authority over land rights and development.? Are the lawyers, architects and engineers who support developers, the real threat to Mother Earth? Through unity and focus then can we organize our self for change and environmental protection through peaceful building and organizing our self. During Site 41 a unity of citizens, farmers and Torontonians emerged to defend and protect the Alliston Aquifer. Then the mega quarry was denounced by citizens, farmers, and native and good lawyers. We as citizens of Ontario must unite with the Conservation Authority, Environmental Organizations, Farmers, Native Nations and Good Minds with Good Hearted People before everything is cut down or polluted. Mother Earth is being raped on the French Hill in Waverly. The developer will say he bought the land which is old growth Sugar Maples and other hard wood trees so that all should be clear cut for a quarry As a Mohawk man with grade 6 education I can tell you from our Traditional Culture no one has the right to destroy this large unique incredibly beautiful healing place full of creation for our children’s children.”
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Posted on JohnBacherPhD.ca and SpringwaterParkcc.org.

Previous posts on the Waverley Mega Quarry;


Successful and seasoned environmentalists do the sensible thing: they take a Walk for Water

August 15, 2015

Want to know the secret to stop a massive limestone quarry and an industrial garbage complex atop the world’s purest water?

Just ask Danny Beaton and Dr. John Bacher:

  1. Take a stand, and
  2. do something sensible like, Walk for Water 2015.

Danny and John were key advisors to me for the remarkable rescue of Springwater Park by Beausoleil First Nation.

 


Update: Ceremonial teepee at Springwater Park torched.

May 20, 2015
Beth Ian McInroy

Elizabeth Brass Elson, of Beausoleil First Nation, looks over the remains of a ceremonial teepee which was destroyed by vandals Saturday night at Springwater Provincial Park, located north of Barrie. IAN MCINROY/BARRIE EXAMINER/POSTMEDIA

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Wanzel tee pee

Mark Wanzel, Barrie Examiner

Reports of May 17, 2015 arson at Springwater Park – Camp Nibi:

Tipi up

This is what the donated teepee looked like when we put it up on August 4, 2013. I wrote about it. See: An Anishinaabe tipi now graces Springwater Park – Camp Nibi in Midhurst

Donation

A generous donation. Ten years in Debby’s family. Aboriginal Voices Radio.

Tipi Beth Sylvie

People of goodwill trying to add to the diversity of our community.

Marvin

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Les Marvin

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Group

The image that NOW magazine used in their September 5, 2013 article called John Bacher on Wild West sprawl wrecking Ontario parks.

NOW magazine

New information: The emergency service providers cut the chain to gain access to the park.
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Images of what I discovered at the park on April 22, 2015.

Sign vandal

At the Anishnaabe teaching lodge which houses a sweat lodge.

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Originally posted on SpringwaterParkcc.org.


Simcoe County’s farmland and forests MUST be included within Greenbelt protection.

April 30, 2015

Dr. John Bacher issues a blunt warning to Simcoe County.

John Bacher Coronation ParkFate of Dunlap Forest Warning to Simcoe County

Dr. John Bacher

From late February to early May of 2015 bulldozers, chain saws and chipping machines waged a brutal war on the David Dunlap Forest, removing fifty acres from the heart of what had been a 125 acre forest tract in the heart of Richmond Hill. This Richmond Hill chain saw massacre was a vivid warning to Simcoe County, of the need to place of its its identified agriculturally zoned lands and significant forests within the protection of the Greenbelt. The blight of forest destruction without such protection may come to Simcoe County soon.

The David Dunlap Forest like those of Simcoe County was created by the reforestation movement sparked by Edmund Zavitz. It was planted from 1939 to 1980 to counter the threats posed by spreading sands of desertification and the threats of flooding to Toronto from deforestation. At the same time the forest provided light pollution protection for the David Dunlap Observatory. It until seven years it was operated by the University of Toronto and was the location for major scientific breakthroughs, notably the discovery of black holes in distant galaxies.

The University of Toronto sold the Observatory to the Metrus development company. Metrus then went through a long process of official plan and zoning changes, to allow it to construct expensive homes next to a shrunken forest. This process was completed on January 16th, 2015, whereupon a plague of giant machines smashed up the trees, turning them into sawdust.

A very dedicated 60 year old ecological group, the Richmond Hill Naturalists, attempted to defend the David Dunlap Forest. It is considered Provincially Significant, since it is the only large upland forest between the Oak Ridges Moraine and the City of Toronto. However, such protection means that officious experts can testify at the Ontario Municipal Board, (OMB), that the destruction of forest can be justified if it is shown not to impact any “ecological function.”

The naturalists spent $500,000 in three hearings and one court case in their efforts to defend the David Dunlap Forest. Despite numerous experts on their behalf who explained that the cutting of almost half of a 125 acre forest block reduces such ecological functions as bird nesting and deer habitat, they lost every time. Now the naturalists are subject of a motion at the OMB that they must pay $200,000 for the expenses of the experts who justified the destruction of the David Dunlap Forest. They efforts to protect a provincially significant forest were disparaged at the OMB as being the basis of a “banana” or “ideological” appeal.

The chewing up of the David Dunlap Forest shows the need for the inclusion of all of the Provincially Significant Forests in Ontario, especially those of Simcoe County under extreme development pressure to be protected by the Greenbelt. The key provision is Policy 3.2.4. This states that for lands “within a key natural heritage feature” (ie. significant forest)…”Development or site alteration is not permitted.” Only such strong language can protect forests from assault by the absurd studies of supposed experts.

Like the lands of the Oak Ridges Moraine near the David Dunlap Forest, those of Simcoe County were ecologically restored. Unless put into the Greenbelt, they await a fate similar to the devastation of the Richmond Hill chipping massacre.

Dr. John Bacher, author of Two Billion Trees and Counting: The Legacy of Edmund Zavitz.

Danny Beaton John Bacher Stephen OgdenSite 41: Danny Beaton, Steve Ogden and John Bacher


First Memorial Zavitz-Drury bike ride, this Sunday, October 5

October 3, 2014

A very good way to celebrate our magnificent county forestry heritage

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What: First Memorial Zavitz-Drury bike ride

When: Sunday October 5 at 10:30 am (weather permitting)

Where: meet at Spence Ave and Hwy 27 (ball diamond parking lot, Midhurst) and ride to Finlay Mill Rd, across Wattie Rd, down St. Vincent, left onto Pooles Rd, right onto Old 2nd S, left onto Partridge Rd. then down Penetanguishene Road to the plaque that marks the original Drury farm in Crown Hill. More info 705-424-7589

Alliston Herald article

Alliston Herald
September 22, 2014

Perfect season to bike through Simcoe County forests
Letter to the Editor
Anne Learn Sharpe

LETTER – The season is turning, leaves are showing hints of brilliance against the backdrop of dark pines — and it’s the perfect time for a bike ride. The story of the pine forests of Simcoe County begins with a very long bike ride.

In October of 1905, Edmund Zavitz, who was teaching forestry at the agricultural college in Guelph, set out on his bicycle and rode to Crown Hill north of Barrie to meet E. C. Drury, farmer and fellow conservationist. Their collaboration over the following decades led to the reforestation of Ontario.

In his book Two Billion Trees and Counting, John Bacher describes what the cutting and burning of trees had done to Ontario in the early 20th century: farmland had turned to blowsand and was drifting away, water sources had dried up and serious floods were becoming more common. Edmund Zavitz started planting trees. During E. C. Drury’s term as premier, 1919 to 1923, along with a team of colleagues, the two men created policies and projects to involve farmers and land owners in planting hardy red and white pines as pioneer species. These trees gradually held the soil in place and stored water to nourish further growth and prevent floods.

This is history we don’t hear enough about. What better way to commemorate it than with a bike ride? This October before you put away your bike for the season, plan a ride to one of the many places in Simcoe County where Zavitz and Drury left their mark. Any of the county forests would be a fine destination. Springwater Park was once the Midhurst Reforestation Station. Here in Angus, we have the Ontario Tree Seed Plant, and across the road Angus Community Park, once a part of the plant. In Crown Hill on the Penetanguishene Road, a plaque marks the site of the original Drury farm.

Zavitz and Drury left us a legacy of natural spaces that sustain our lives in countless ways. And they left us a strategy: don’t cut too many trees and be sure to plant many more than you cut—in other words, conservation. Their gift was meant to be enjoyed and passed on to next generations—it’s up to us to see that it is. Like Edmund Zavitz, we could start with a bike ride.

Anne Learn Sharpe,
Angus

Posted on SpringwaterParkcc.org.


Celebration of Rural Living with Margaret Atwood: Do something bigger than yourself.

June 25, 2014

Images from the June 22nd event in Midhurst.

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Margaret Atwood says to write Premier Wynne a hand-written letter asking her to overturn the legal loophole.

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Dale Goldhawk as a master of master of ceremonies.

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World class environmental lawyer, David Donnelly. “According to my math, and I could be wrong, some stand to make $40 BILLION from this development. Spending 10% is still $4 BILLION! And how do communities like Midhurst defend themselves? By selling cookies and planters. That’s bake sale justice and it has to stop!” — at Wrico Hosteins Farm, Midhurst. Source

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Generously answering questions.

Atwood crowd

A crowd of 400. “The Voice of southern Georgian Bay”, 97.7 The Beach podcast.

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Coverage by CTV Barrie.

Atwood says it’s time now for Kathleen Wynne’s government to deliver on addressing what they called an environment priority.

“So with this as a priority for your government – why would you let the most important wetland in Ontario be destroyed?”

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Springwater Park – Camp Nibi drum circle.

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John and Mary Lou Bacher

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Globe and Mail coverage: Margaret Atwood joins fight against planned housing development.

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YouTube of Atwood’s talk.

  • Change: good, bad and idiotic…Ontario Liberal party responds to Ducks Unlimited Canada…The Turnip has nothing against poop…10,000 new homes on Class 1 and 2 farmland…treated effluent into Minesing Wetlands…many red lights bypassed by “special legislation”…some bright bunny…threatened lawsuits and toe removal (toe part was a joke)…cottagers concerns…no jobs…
  • cui bonoto whose benefit?…”fine words butter no parsnips”…special loophole…
  • Will Premier Wynne stop this idiotic plan?: “I have faith that she will”.

Bigger than yourself


Will an Oka-type crisis happen at Springwater Park on Nov 11, 2013?

November 7, 2013

John Bacher asks his question.

Front cross

The November 7, 2013 Springwater News front page article:

Will an Oka-type crisis happen at Springwater Park on Nov 11, 2013?
Dr. John Bacher

The upcoming November 11th remembrance day ceremonies which are being discussed at Springwater Provincial Park are fraught with danger. Aboriginal veterans have had a lot of grievances in the past from discriminatory treatment and have as a result, generally had separate remembrance day events. There should be some understanding of this basic reality when planning any activities this year in the occupied park- any such commemorations could be explosive and confrontational. The atmosphere has been additionally poisoned by a botched sandblasting on the memorial recently, which damaged the structure.

The tragic events at Springwater now resemble in many ways the situation before the Oka crisis. In both situations the dangers arose because we have forgotten the lessons of the past. At Oka under the leadership of a Catholic priest, Father Joseph Daniel Lefebvre, dangerously spreading sand wastes (they had buried a third of the village) were stabilized by pine plantings undertaken by Mohawks. The Town of Oka foolishly forgot this example and tried to turn the restored pine forest into a golf course and housing development.

Like the Oka forest, Springwater Provincial Park was created to stabilize spreading sand wastes. While there is no development being planned in the park itself, there is across the road from it, on lands that were also afforested in the past to stabilize sand dunes by the provincial government. Both episodes show the folly of forgetting past conservation achievements.

I have a doctorate from McMaster University in history, earned in 1985 and have taught courses there in peace and human rights there and at the University of Toronto. I am the author of Two Billion Trees and Counting: The Legacy of Edmund Zavitz, published by Dundurn Press in 2011.

October 21, 2013

Dr. Bacher is on the Advisory Council of the Springwater Park Citizens’ Coalition.


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