South Nation Conservation (SNC) continued to adapt to a changing climate while delivering reliable and valuable conservation work for municipalities and watershed residents during 2021.

SNC works with 16 member municipalities across a 4,441 square-kilometer watershed jurisdiction that surrounds the South Nation River in Eastern Ontario.

In 2021, SNC issued over 200 permits to approve sustainable development activities to protect people and property from natural hazards, such as flooding and erosion, while conserving local wetlands, waterways, and shorelines. SNC reviewed 590 development projects on behalf of municipalities and provided technical services on over 200 of them, including reviewing the design of stormwater management facilities. Under the Sewage Systems Program, SNC issued 500 permits for septic system installation and modification projects for 13 local Municipalities.

SNC helped to plant a record 230,000 trees on private and public properties through municipal partnerships, tree planting subsidy programs, and community tree giveaways in 2021. The previous record dates to 1993, when 193,000 trees were planted by the conservation authority, and the average amount of trees typically planted annually by SNC is about 150,000 each year.

Approximately 200,000 visitors sought physical and mental health respite at SNC’s fifteen Conservation Areas in 2021. Select trails remain open year-round at nation.on.ca/recreation/winter.

SNC was thrilled to see the return of the popular Summer Youth Fish Camp after their postponement in 2020. The five summer camps were held at the Cass Bridge Conservation Area in Winchester, High Falls Conservation Area in Casselman, and Jessup’s Falls Conservation Area in Plantagenet, with nearly 100 youth casting a line.

In 2021, SNC shifted traditional outreach programs online. Two bilingual virtual tours were created for Maple Syrup Education at the Oschmann Forest, with more than 25,000 students participating, and a virtual field trip of the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers was created.

SNC hosted another successful online auction in October, this year themed around local wood working artisans, which raised nearly $3,000 for the Community Free Tree Initiative.

Additional 2021 highlights include updating Natural Hazard Maps along the Ottawa River in Prescott-Russell and the Bear Brook in the City of Ottawa (public consultation to take place in 2022); awarding $10,000 in grants to non-profit community groups to help with community tree planting projects; securing funding through government and industry grant programs to support stream and wetland restoration projects and funding to support SNC’s Land Securement Program, to add to the 13,000 acres of land managed by SNC.

Essential programs continued through 2021 with appropriate measures in place, including: public forest management (tree marking on 102 acres with harvest operations occurring on another 51 acres), and providing support to private woodlot owners (64 people receiving free visits or support grants to help add 4,363 acres to privately managed forest plans for the next 10 years); environmental monitoring work to support SNC’s development review team, and; 32 agricultural water quality improvement projects were approved in the SNC region, and an additional 72 projects within rural Ottawa; SNC also supported replacing 591 dead Ash trees on private property in Ottawa.

“The year offered new challenges, great opportunities, partnerships and accomplishments,” explained Angela Coleman, SNC’s General Manager. “We look forward to continuing that momentum in 2022 as we celebrate our 75th anniversary as an organization dedicated to protecting our local environment and engaging communities.”

Youths participating in South Nation Conservation’s Youth Fish Camps gather for a photo during an outing outing at Jessup’s Falls Conservation Area in Plantagenet. Photo courtesy of SNC