Friends Of The Muskoka Watershed Has Big Plans For The Future

Minister of Natural Resources Graydon Smith (right) was in attendance at the Friends of the Muskoka Watershed (FOTMW) AGM on Saturday, June 11 in Gravenhurst. He was joined by (from left) Muskoka Lakes deputy mayor Susan Mazan and mayor Peter Kelley. Also in attendance were members, donors, interested community members and politicians from Gravenhurst, Lake of Bays and Bracebridge. FOTMW announced their plan for the next five years. (FOTMW photo).

After much study, Friends of the Muskoka Watershed (FOTMW) has selected their project plans for the next five years. The plans to help protect Muskoka watersheds were announced at their AGM on Sunday, June 11 at the Muskoka Discovery Centre in Gravenhurst.

FOTMW also held their business meeting and had presentations from their partner Trent University, and two scientists who are directors on the board. But the big news is their long-term plan.

With input from advisors, the board, local experts and using published literature, FOTMW evaluated 14 watershed threats to determine the top seven plans for FOTMW’s focus for the future. The threats were evaluated for: severity, extent and trend; current government actions; and potential for local community action to help resolve the threat.

At the top of the list are plans to address calcium decline and increasing levels of road salt. The study of hazardous algal blooms and novel toxic chemicals are on the work plan too. Tying that all together is a goal to motivate the community to participate in protecting Muskoka. Below is the full list of projects for the next year. (See the full report at

  1. Calcium decline has damaged Muskoka forests. FOTMW plan to involve the community in restoration using wood ash.
  2. Calcium decline has reduced forest carbon capture. Working with university researchers, FOTMW will determine what impact healthier forests could have on climate change. How much more carbon will forests capture after ash additions?
  3. Calcium decline in forests may increase the risk of spring floods. FOTMW will determine if an increase in calcium will increase forest transpiration, reducing the severity of spring floods.
  4. Road salt is damaging many Muskoka lakes. FOTMW are identifying the source and raising awareness of the issue
  5. Hazardous algal blooms are on the rise. FOTMW plan to study their causes so they can better predict occurrences and investigate solutions.
  6. Novel toxic chemicals may be damaging our lakes. FOTMW will determine if aquatic life is threatened and action is needed.
  7. Public will and action are needed to protect the environment. Through Citizen Science and other projects, FOTMW will motivate, educate and provide opportunities for the community to participate in protecting Muskoka.

FOTMW Chair Peter Kelly also shared some updates. “Revenue Canada has recognized us as a registered charity, allowing us to issue tax receipts for donations, and that is making a difference,” he says. “We are in an excellent position for the future and it’s going to be a good one for FOTMW. We focus on science driven solutions.”

A new board was elected. Financials were approved and about 35 guests heard scientific reports from Dr. Neil Hutchinson on the road salt study and plans, and Dr. Shaun Watmough of Trent University and Dr. Norman Yan on the results of additions of ash to our forests.


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