A Watershed Year in Review: RRCA Looks Back at 2022

Provided by the RRCA
A Watershed Year in Review: RRCA Looks Back at 2022
The Raisin River flowing through Williamstown in South Glengarry. The RRCA's programs and services help protect people, property, and the environment. (Photo : RRCA)

From protecting people and property to tree planting and land conservation, the last twelve months saw the Raisin Region Conservation Authority (RRCA) continuing its mission to conserve and restore the local environment, mitigate natural hazards, and support sustainable development within its watershed jurisdiction in Cornwall and surrounding area of SDG.

“Year after year, our watershed-based approach to conservation allows local communities to work together with nature to secure a better environment and healthy future for the region,” says Martin Lang, Chair of the RRCA’s eight-member Board of Directors. “The RRCA’s accomplishments this year are indicative of the strong and long-standing partnerships with our five member municipalities of Cornwall, South Glengarry, South Stormont, North Glengarry, and North Stormont. We also really want to thank our staff, summer students, volunteers, and government and community partners for their roles in all we were able to achieve in 2022.”

The RRCA continued supporting sustainable development in 2022 by working with municipalities, businesses, farmers, developers, and property owners on a record 335 development applications and inquiries, up from the previous record of 299 in 2021. “These processes are vital in making sure development projects are safe from natural hazards such as flooding and erosion, and that natural heritage features are protected,” says Phil Barnes, RRCA’s Watershed Management Team Lead.

The RRCA also manages the Raisin-South Nation Source Water Protection program, which protects municipal sources of drinking water from contamination and overuse. “The Raisin-South Nation Source Protection Region encompasses a landmass of approximately 6,900 square kilometres and includes 26 groundwater and surface water municipal drinking water systems,” says RRCA’s Communications and Stewardship Team Lead, Lisa Van De Ligt, who is Project Manager for the Source Protection Region. The program is overseen by a 15-member Source Protection Committee plus a chair. In 2022, retired farmer and active community member, Ray Beauregard, was re-appointed as chair by Ontario’s Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks.

Over the last six decades, the RRCA has acquired land in order to safeguard green infrastructure (e.g., floodplain lands and provincially significant wetlands which provide stormwater management and reservoir functions) enhance tree cover, protect sensitive ecological habitat, and provide recreational opportunities to the public. The RRCA currently owns and conserves 1,664 acres of environmentally significant land, a number which was increased in 2022 by the gifting of 115 acres of forest by the Township of South Glengarry. “We were honoured to have been chosen by the Township as the steward of these forests, and we look forward to conserving this land into the future,” says Van De Ligt.

The RRCA’s three Conservation Areas – Cooper Marsh, Charlottenburgh Park, and Gray’s Creek – saw a number of improvements and initiatives this year, including new taxidermy displays and renovations to the Cooper Marsh Visitors Centre, the installation of wayfinding signs and trail markers, improvements to parking spaces, and various biodiversity and habitat enhancement projects.

The RRCA also continued to foster public and private landowner stewardship, adding nearly 60,000 trees to the local landscape in 2022, and continuing to facilitate the implementation of various agricultural stewardship best management practices projects such as wetlands, grasslands, buffers, and more. The RRCA also hosts the coordinator for the ALUS Ontario East program, which helps deliver ecosystem services on agricultural lands.

With the roll-back of COVID-19 restrictions in 2022, the RRCA returned to regularly hosting in-person events, such as its Raisin River Canoe Race, five Tree Giveaway events, Family Fishing Day, an educational workshop series, and six corporate and community tree planting events.

The RRCA also manages and operates eight water control structures within its jurisdiction, engages in regular surface and groundwater monitoring, conducts snowpack monitoring during the winter months, and assists its partner municipalities and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry with Flood Forecasting and Warning and Low Water Response programs.

“I’m proud of our team’s accomplishments in 2022,” says RRCA General Manager, Richard Pilon. “Our lineup of engineers, biologists, planners, technicians, and field staff are all passionate in delivering environmental services to multiple communities in ways that balance the protection of our environment and natural resources with human and economic needs. We are especially grateful for the strong support the RRCA received from our municipal partners this year.”

In 2023, the RRCA will be celebrating 60 years of conservation since 1963. The Conservation Authority is encouraging the community to stay up to date with its plans for 2023 by subscribing to its monthly newsletter at rrca.on.ca.

For more information, please visit rrca.on.ca or contact (613) 938-3611 or info@rrca.on.ca.

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