No less than 21 people, businesses and groups that are all working to improve the local environment were feted last night at the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority’s 38th annual Conservation Awards ceremony at Madsen’s Greenhouse Banquet Hall.
Nari Hwang, a Grade 6 student at Shanty Bay Public School, won the Ernie Crossland Young Conservationist Award.
The honour is given to individuals and groups that are 30 years of age or younger and are involved in a significant leadership role in a conservation project or with a conservation-based group or organization.
Living on the north shore of Lake Simcoe's Kempenfelt Bay, Hwang has made art out of garbage and plastics to bring awareness to the amount of plastic garbage found in rivers, oceans, lakes and streams, and the negative effect these items have on the environment throughout the world.
Hwang is passionate about protecting Lake Simcoe from pollutants and plastics and keeping the lake healthy. She is an avid blogger on her site, Make Clean Water Happen, where she offers tips on reducing one’s impact on the environment.
She has also spoken at school assemblies on how plastic garbage impacts natural habitats and the environment, has written an editorial on water pollution and, most recently, created a video entitled Eulogy for Lake Simcoe, a living eulogy to bring attention to the negative effects climate change, plastics and invasive species can have on the health of the lake.
The City of Barrie also won a Healthy Water Award for developing strategies to minimize salt use to ensure roads and sidewalks are safe in the winter.
Oro-Medonte's Tatiana Mitchell won a Healthy Land Award for removing non-native plant species from her garden and planting an all native plant selection to support beneficial pollinators.
Other winners from the 2019 LSRCA Conservation Awards include:
Healthy Community Award
(The Healthy Communities Award celebrates individuals or groups in our watershed who have completed a project that increases community connections and engagement through events, fairs and festivals; tree plantings; clean-ups and community programs. It also acknowledges significant traditional media or social media coverage; delivering innovative environmental programs or services; as well as sharing knowledge and information through campaigns.)
- Brechin Public School (Brechin, Brock Township) – For planning, educating and leading the student body in support of various environmental initiatives.
- Durham Shredders (Durham Region) – For promoting land stewardship and teaching riders about trail etiquette.
- Eco-Guardian (Newmarket) – For promoting pure products for a clean future by reducing the impact of waste on the environment.
- Noeline Burk (Newmarket) – For her leadership in attaining the Platinum Ontario EcoSchools certification and overseeing several environmental initiatives.
- Ross James (Sunderland) – For collecting and providing over 25 years of in-depth handwritten notes on a wide variety of species living in the Beaver River wetland.
- Roy Alexander (East Gwillimbury, Newmarket) – For organizing community clean ups and educating people on respecting natural spaces.
- Tanya Murray (Newmarket) – For raising the profile of outdoor and environmental education.
Healthy Land Award
(This award celebrates improvement projects that help to support and protect natural heritage feature's including woodlands, wetlands and their functions; wildlife habitat; biodiversity and ecological restoration; soil erosion; and trail development.)
- Dan Sopuch (Bradford West Gwillimbury) – For reducing soil erosion on his farm by planting cover crops and installing tile outlet control structures.
- David Barton (Township of King) – For planting 3,000 trees and shrubs on his property.
- Hillside Gardens (Bradford West Gwillimbury) – For interseeding their fields and installing a new dry feed system and star finger de-dirter at the front end of their vegetable processing plant.
- Hollandale Farms (Township of King) – For reducing soil erosion by using cover crops and interseeding and for installing de-dirting equipment to improve their harvester’s efficiency.
- OFA Durham Region – Jim Carson; OFA Simcoe County – Dave Lucas; OFA York Region – Bart Johnson – For their many years of dedicated service to review restoration projects and provide valuable comments and feedback.
- Nick and Ted Mendrek (Holland Marsh) – For completing several projects to help conserve soil and prevent soil erosion.
- Susan and Charles Larkin (Sutton West) – For planting 2,390 trees and shrubs in 2018 & 2019.
Healthy Water Award
(The Healthy Water Award is presented to individuals and groups who have completed a project that improves, supports or protects the water quality in the Lake Simcoe watershed. Projects could include stormwater management, water conservation, streambank and shoreline restoration or stabilization, low impact development techniques and source water protection.)
- Town of Aurora – For reducing application rates, material usage, transportation and street sweeping costs as part of their winter maintenance activities.
- Town of East Gwillimbury – For implementing a winter maintenance strategy that includes using a liquid salt-solution to anti-ice roads.
- Town of Newmarket – For testing different application rates of sand/salt mixtures as part of their winter maintenance practices.
- Floyd Hales Fish Huts, Bear Point Fish Huts, Jason’s Fish Huts, Hot Box Fish Huts – For taking part in a pilot project to collect water samples from multiple ice huts across Lake Simcoe.
- City of Richmond Hill – For preparing and delivering training modules to Lake Simcoe watershed municipalities on conducting Stormwater Management pond inspections and maintenance activities.
- Town of Aurora – For removing a barrier and constructing a new bridge that enables coldwater fish to migrate through a tributary to get to their spawning grounds.