Thursday, January 19, 2012

Wind Company and Farm Owner Sued Over Proposed Project

TORONTO, January 18, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Wind developer WPD Canada and a farm that signed a lease to host wind turbines are now both being sued. The claim seeks an injunction and $2 million in damages related to the proposed Fairview Wind Farm in Stayner. "This claim seems unique because the owner of the proposed farm is also being sued" said lawyer Eric Gillespie. "Landowners who decide to allow turbines may need to look carefully at their legal position and potential liability" he said.

The claim focuses on alleged devaluation of property. The plaintiff Sylvia Wiggins and husband John listed their home for sale in 2011. Showings started but they say ended shortly after the project was publicized. Recent data shows when a wind company bought out homes near another Ontario project, on resale the company lost almost 35% of their value. "These kinds of things appear to be happening with wind farms. We decided to do something now" said John Wiggins.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Trees Ontario's Newest Green Leader creates an Alternative to Cottage Country

John Haak, a Trees Ontario Green Leader, on his Clinton-area property. (CNW Group/Trees Ontario)

TORONTO, January 12, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - John Haak has been named a Trees Ontario Green Leader for his dedication to tree planting.

Trees Ontario's Green Leader Program recognizes landowners who have worked with our partners to take part in the Ontario government's 50 Million Tree Program, which will see 50 million trees planted in southern Ontario by 2020.

Ian Jean, Forestry and Stewardship Specialist for Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority, nominated Haak after working with him on his site.

"John has gone beyond tree planting and has restored several acres of wetland and tallgrass prairie habitat on land he retired at the back of his farm," said Jean.

Trees Ontario recently visited Haak on his property near Clinton, Ontario. The previous owner had planted trees before Haak bought the property 13 years ago. "I just continued on where he left off," explains Haak.

Since 2008, Haak has planted approximately 6,000 trees. When he purchased the property, it was comprised of 30 acres of bush and 70 acres of marginal farmland. Now, they have 20 acres of workable land and the rest is made up of trees, native prairie grass and six wetlands. The trees are a diverse mix of spruce, white pine, red oak, maple, sugar maple, black cherry and tamarack. Haak, who grew up on a farm, works at the Sifto Salt Mine, in nearby Goderich, and rents out the marginal farmland to nearby farmers.

In the past, Haak covered the costs of tree planting himself. A few years ago, however, he heard about the 50 Million Tree Program and contacted Ian Jean, who let him know about the subsidies and support available for tree planting.

"Ian Jean did a lot of work here," says Haak. "He comes down to do site visits and enjoys what I have done here."

Haak has since participated twice in the 50 Million Tree Program, and credits the Conservation Authority's help in making the process easy. He plans to make use of the Program again in Spring 2012. His property has been employed as an educational tool by conservation authorities and universities.

"There's a variety of habitats. There's ducks, turkeys, deer, birds. I have really diversified here and I think that's made a huge difference," adds Haak. "We see a different variety of bird species now compared to what we saw before."

Haak has some advice to other landowners who are interested in planting trees: "For marginal land or areas you want to plant, it is a good program and covers a lot of the costs."

"Whether it's 2.5 acres or a half acre, it is all important," he adds. "I think trees are an important component of the landscape."

"Planting trees helps us create a healthier environment. It cleans the air, helps fight the impacts of climate change, increases wildlife habitat, provides shade and helps prevent flooding," said Michael Gravelle, Minister of Natural Resources. "I applaud Mr. Haak for the work he is doing and I encourage others to take part in the 50 Million Tree Program to help protect Ontario's natural beauty."

"We appreciate all of the landowners who take part in our programs. But it is worth commemorating these Green Leaders for their local stewardship and support for the environment," said Rob Keen, Trees Ontario CEO.

"I'm an outdoors person so I enjoy hunting and walking through the bush. I like nature," says Haak. He enjoys riding his bike through the trails or rides his horse through the property.

"I always wanted a property up north but that's not feasible for us. Rather than have a cottage or recreational land up north, I just did it in my backyard and can use it everyday now," Haak said. "You don't have to fight traffic to get here."

Trees Ontario is the lead agency for the Ontario government's 50 Million Tree program, which provides financial incentives to landowners looking to plant trees. It also provides eligible landowners with hands-on professional help and advice on tree planting including determining site eligibility, allocating funding and coordinating planting. For more information about the 50 Million Tree Program and other tree planting programs and incentives available to Ontario landowners, please click here.

Working with its partners, Trees Ontario planted nearly 3 million trees in 2011. Our goal is to support the planting of 10 million trees per year by 2015. To help put Ontario on the path to achieving this goal, Trees Ontario is seeking landowners to participate in its programs.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

CleanFARMS to develop program to manage agricultural plastic waste in Ontario

ETOBICOKE, Ontario, January 5, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - A new service for farmers who want to safely get rid of plastic agricultural waste, including bale wrap, will be piloted in 2012 in the Lake Simcoe watershed by CleanFARMS, a national, industry-led stewardship organization.

"This pilot project will lay the groundwork for a comprehensive program to responsibly manage all agricultural waste plastic across the province," says Barry Friesen, general manager of CleanFARMS.

According to recent research conducted by CleanFARMS, farmers in Ontario generate more than 14,000 tonnes of non-nutrient based waste on their farms each year.

While there are stewardship programs in place for some agricultural waste products, there are many products for which no recycling options exist.

"Farmers don't want to burn waste or send it to landfills but it's difficult for them to be good stewards when there aren't programs in place to help them," says Friesen. "Where there are programs in place, farmers overwhelmingly choose to participate. The success of CleanFARMS' empty pesticide container recycling program is a prime example."

The pilot program in Lake Simcoe is being funded by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

"I congratulate the folks at CleanFARMs for working with us to pilot this service that will help farmers better protect our environment," said Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Ted McMeekin.

CleanFARMS' empty pesticide container recycling program has been in operation since 1989 and its obsolete pesticide collection program began in 1998. Both have earned a reputation for being among the best agricultural stewardship programs in the world.

Funding for this program comes from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs through the Canada-Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem. The Canadian Animal Health Institute and industry have pledged additional cash and in-kind contributions.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Take the 'Bird a Day' Challenge in 2012

Rosana Prada/CC BY 2.0
Birdwatchers in Quebec.

from January 1, 2012
by Jennifer Hattam - Science / Natural Sciences

Plenty of people wake up on January 1 vowing to hit the gym, quit smoking, or get out of debt. But a select few have set a more unusual, and perhaps even more challenging goal for themselves: to spot a new species of bird every day of the new year.

The "Bird a Day" challenge was invented by Massachusetts birdwatcher Tom Wetmore, according the northern New Jersey newspaper The Record. Birders around the country now compete (though the only "prize" is bragging rights) to see how long they can keep their spotting streaks going.

Understanding Bird Migrations And Habits

Though winning takes dogged persistence and not a small bit of luck, even a short stint tackling the challenge pushes nature-lovers to explore new terrain, learn more about birds, and look more closely at what's around them -- worthy pursuits all on their own.

"Knowledge about habitats, bird habits, and movements were all critical to the effort," writes Trey Mitchell, who maintains a website where challenge participants can track their findings. "Know your wintering birds and when they move north. Focus on them first and be aware of those that leave early in the year. As spring migration arrives you have new opportunity and a wide variety of birds to choose from as they pass through."

Rich Avian Life Outside A Train Window

Trips to exotic places can help boost a birder's score, but they're not necessary to participate. Audubon magazine editor Rene Ebersole spotted birds out of the train window while commuting along the Hudson River from the suburbs to work in the city during last year's challenge, a endeavor she wrote about on the magazine's blog " The Perch." Despite making it only to Day 80 last year, she's raring to do it again.

One day last year, Ebersole spotted some 20 bird species during her commute -- though, of course, only one counted for that day's challenge. "I marveled at how often I’ve no doubt sped along right past them all, consumed by the daily newspaper or snoozing in a train seat," she wrote. "That’s the beauty of this project: My eyes have opened wider to nature’s subtleties and rhythms." the fully story at