President's Fall Message 2008
Another busy year at the lake is nearing an end. Fall colours are outstanding as I write this, although the first hard frost is still a few days away. The hummingbirds around our cottage left about the usual time, but we saw others passing through as late as September 18, stopping at our feeders to tank up for the long flight south. Herons were plentiful this year, throughout this area, and we have had regular visits from them on the rocks out front. Blue Jays seem to have multiplied this year, but the usual hordes of grackles have been missing since early this summer.
I have been in regular contact with Tim Pidduck, Manager of Crowe Valley Conservation Authority, which owns and operates the McGeachie property, now totaling about 450 acres of woodland, marsh and lake. Tim and I hiked through a major part of the forest earlier in the summer, and he was interested in the idea of developing formal hiking trails such as you find in Algonquin Park along the Highway 60 corridor.
The property has many interesting physical features, including big rock outcrops, hills and valleys, open forest and dense growth. One of Tim’s staff has done some work in the property with GPS equipment, and has agreed to extend the charted trails so they loop back to the start. I have spoken to the Administrator at Bancroft Ministry of Natural Resources, who says he can make a biologist available for a day or two next spring to assist in cataloguing plants, trees and interesting habitat along the trail, and the MNR Junior Ranger program will probably be able to supply help to build information stations at strategic locations along the trail, and to dress the trail with wood chips or other suitable materials where needed.What is necessary is an official leader for this project. I will continue to try to put the pieces together to get this going, but I suggest that the Association make this its own project, so that there is continuity in the coming years. Crowe Valley would continue to own the property, of course, (which relieves the Association of most liability concerns) but they do not have the staff resources to maintain or improve the exhibit. Money is probably available from a couple of sources, so the Association may not have to fund anything. I believe that Hastings County would see this as an economic development issue which will promote tourism, and funds have been flowing to many similar projects throughout the County. Limerick Township may also be interested in contributing. There may be Trillium grants available as well. But we will need personal time and commitment.There is a possibility for this initiative to take legs, too. Your Executive has talked about working to put together some of the history of the lake and the immediate area. The McGeachie property may be a natural place to exhibit those stories, and perhaps even some antiques. I hope that people will come forward to contribute their ideas and assistance in this effort.On another note, altogether, government has your septic system on its radar. A program of inspections for all septic systems is coming, and everyone needs to plan for this so it doesn’t cost each of us a small fortune to comply. While we won’t see our lake directly impacted for about three more years, now is the time to act. If you wait for the government inspector, you won’t have a choice, and once he starts making his rounds, costs to repair or replace are going to go through the roof, because all the local contractors are going to be in demand. If you haven’t had your system pumped in many years, you should spend a few dollars to get that done. Ask the expert on the “honey wagon” to give you an opinion about the condition of your system. If he says you don’t meet current standards, you have a couple of years to plan for an upgrade. The “45 gallon barrel in the ground” that served you through many past years is not going to cut it with the new regulations. And if you have a current model septic system, but the disposal field is plugged with grease, you are going to have to repair it. Don’t ignore this potential problem. Standards are going to get tougher, and thus it will get more expensive to bring yourself into compliance. Do yourself a favour, and do it now!
The bright side is that the lake will benefit. Water testing indicates that our water quality has improved during the last 30 years, but that is no excuse to become complacent. Water in general, and recreational lakes like our’s in particular, are resources of inestimable value to us and our children. Just watch the evening news about the problems in the world, and you will see that water is becoming a scarce and valuable resource around this old planet.
May the winter be mild and gentle, may your health and happiness blossom, and may we see you all on a warm spring morning in 2009 waving to us across Steenburg Lake.