By Byron Wesson
The Nottawasaga River starts with humble beginnings, surfacing from a wetland just west of the Niagara Escarpment. It takes never ending twists and turns for an approximate 160 kilometers, and lands on the shore of Lake Huron in the Town of Wasaga Beach. This river is considered crucial life blood for the entire Nottawasaga Valley watershed. The loss of this river would be tragic to life as we know it. Fear mongering? No. Got your attention? I hope so. Never in our lifetime has it been more important to hang on to our natural resources and protect them like they protect us. As a society, we cannot take our natural environment for granted as our current and future quality of life depends on it.
So how does one go about protecting and enhancing such a large river and its rivers and streams? One that flows through a watershed of 3,700 square kilometers, touching on 18 distinct municipalities and impacting approximately 200,000 residents, plus millions of annual seasonal visitors?
The Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority (NVCA) calls it “integrated watershed management” or IWM and it works. In short IWM is the process of managing human activities and natural resources on a watershed basis, taking into account social, economic and environmental concerns, as well as local community interests and issues, such as the impacts of growth and climate change. IWM is a balancing act that receives input from all sectors with an end goal that strives to ensure the best for all.
We start the process by pulling from a tight group of talented professionals who have made it their mission to ensure the health and integrity of one of the fastest growing watersheds in Ontario. This talent pool includes biologists, foresters, teachers, hydrogeologists, engineers, ecologists, land management and professional planners, mapping, enforcement and communication specialists.
It is time that people recognize that NVCA’s involvement with development and watershed management will benefit their lives immensely and the lives of many generations to come.
Byron Wesson is the Director, Conservation Services at NVCA