The District Municipality of Muskoka
And its Consultant
CH2M Gore & Storrie Limited
We compliment the District Council for its foresight initiating the process to create larger and more efficient treatment facilities at its Plant to provide the necessary treatment capacity for the foreseeable future.
We recognize the importance not only for the residents in the Bracebridge community but also the importance for fish, wildlife and birds by maintaining the quality of the of the water in the Muskoka Rive and Lake Muskoka downstream of the Plantís outfall at the submerged diffuser in the river adjacent to Kerr Park.
Our principal concern is that your choice of solution for the treatment capacity problem should no have a serious adverse effect on what has in the past 30 years become in its own right an important Muskoka asset, "The Bracebridge Lagoons".
The Bracebridge Sewage Lagoons were created in the 1960ís. Obviously, sewage lagoons were not created to serve as important wetlands for wildlife, but that is what they have become. Although not given the environmental protection now afforded to natural wetlands by law, it is somewhat ironic that sewage lagoons have often become the only alternative breeding and migration sites for birds as marshes have been destroyed in southern Ontario. The Bracebridge Lagoons constitute a more nutrient-rich site that is typical of Muskokaís natural wetlands, which is another important reason for their attractiveness to breeding and migrating birds. We think it important that the Bracebridge Lagoons not be significantly altered so as to make them less suitable for the breeding and migratory birds which utilize them.
In addition to their value to birds and wildlife, the Bracebridge Lagoons have become well known, useful and enjoyable to birders in general and the Muskoka Field Naturalists in particular. The Bracebridge Lagoons are highlighted in currently used Ontario bird finding guides as the place to visit in Muskoka. (Bird Finding Guide to Ontario by Clyde E. Goodwin @ Pages 155-156 and Nature Guide to Ontario FON @ Pages 306-307). The Trans Canada Trail as it passes through Bracebridge has been located so as to access this "birding hotspot". The Muskoka Field Naturalists with the cooperation of other Bracebridge community groups located and erected an observation platform at the rear of Kerr Park so as to view the waterfowl in an unobtrusive manner. Not only our members use the platform, it is open to use by the public and the past few years when Bracebridge holds its annual "Festival of the Falls" in May, morning tours or viewing from the platform by the public with assistance from our members in attendance with birding scopes is one of the features of the event. Birding is a growing recreational activity across North America. This is a site that abuts a public park with its facilities, easy access, walking and viewing platform in all making an excellent birding facility for Muskoka residents and visitors.
At our request, Al Sincalir a founding member of the Muskoka Field Naturalist Club and a past President of the Club who has been observing birds at this site for 25 years has assembled for us his personal check list of the 193 species of birds that he has observed at the Bracebridge Lagoons during that time. We have attached it as an appendix to this presentation. We believe it illustrates the importance of the site which includes not only the lagoons but also the shrubbery along the perimeter areas of the property where the warblers and other forest dwellers were sighted.
In closing we are pleased to say that our Club, without a single unpleasant incident, has enjoyed a wonderful relationship and cooperation with both the supervisor and staff of the existing pollution control facility for over 20 years. They have done everything within the boundaries of effective management to provide optimum conditions for the waterfowl and wading birds. This has included on occasion lowering the water level in Cell 2 to produce a mud flat for waders during their migration period.
We are therefore appreciative of the opportunity to place our thoughts before you in this current process and are confident that the preferred solution will preserve and continue the Muskoka we have all come to love and enjoy.
If we may of assistance to you, you may depend on our cooperation.
Dated at Bracebridge this 1st day of February 2001.
Muskoka Field Naturalist Club
Russ Black, President