Tag Archives: Community

Become a Citizen Scientist With Us


Written by: Karlee May, Digital Media Coordinator, with contributions from Cory Harris, Water Resources Engineer

Conduct a scientific study in your own backyard. By setting up a rain gauge on your property, you can measure the precipitation throughout the year. Gardeners will love being able to see how the rain affects their gardens; farmers will be able to better predict when rain falls on the crops, and landowners will develop a greater awareness of the environment they live in. If you set up a rain gauge, you can also participate in a large data collection, data that even we use here at Conservation Halton. The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) is a non-profit organization that collects and provides high quality weather and precipitation (rain, hail and snow) data through a network of volunteers. As a volunteer, you’re directly contributing to a public information resource for education, science, and policy. It’s participation through precipitation!

Local volunteers, like yourself, set up rain gauges, and the gauges are connected to the CoCoRahs network. Measurements are taken using these rain gauges and the precipitation information is entered into a large database of a network of rain gauges on the web. By setting up your own rain gauge, the data you collect will be made available online to all members of the public and is presented in a map or table format. You’ll immediately be able to see the measurements and trends online! Similarly, the data that others enter is also shared and made available to you. Eventually, the data collected through the network will likely be used in important studies related to climate change. It’s crowd-sourcing the collection of precipitation information for the benefit of all.

Conservation Halton supplements our rainfall data with the data collected from these rain gauges. The more rain gauges out there in the watershed, the more information we can use for our storm models. Engineers are better able to predict the impacts on the wetlands, creeks and flood prone areas within the watershed. The original rain gauge network we built was based on the assumption that the most severe storms we would be forecasting for would be hurricanes. Because of climate change, we’re now seeing a difference in the types of storms in the watershed. Storms previously dispersed across a broader area; but, now the data shows that storms have become more convective in nature. More storms of a convective nature mean that rainfall is more localized and intense, and harder to predict. Having a higher density of gauges in the area allows us to record more rainfall data to confirm and assess the spatial distribution, and also the severity of various storms.

Staff at Conservation Halton set up a rain gauge this past week. Families, Teachers: this is a great way to connect education and the environment! Students and children will learn every time it rains, and develop a greater awareness of the environment and weather patterns. They’re also truly contributing to a growing body of data with real-life implications.

Learn more about the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network at this link here: http://www.cocorahs.org/


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Protecting Jefferson Salamander made Burlington a Conservation Hero



Written by:  Norm Miller, Communications Advisor, Conservation Halton

The first year it happened, it was a big deal. How big? It was a national media story with organizations like the Huffington Post, Maclean’s, Global TV, Burlington Post, CBC Radio and Television, Toronto Star, all talking about it. It was even mentioned on David Suzuki’s Facebook page.

Four years later it may not get the same attention, but it’s still a big deal for a little creature, the endangered Jefferson Salamander. What happened was the City of Burlington (at the suggestion of Conservation Halton) made the decision to completely close King Road to all traffic from the base of the Niagara Escarpment to Mountain Brow Road.

The closure, which usually lasts for three weeks, allows the endangered Jefferson Salamander safe passage during its annual migration to lay eggs. Adult salamanders migrate to their breeding ponds in mid-March or early April during wet rainy nights. They show strong affinity for their birth pond and can be very determined to reach it, often crossing busy roads.

A voluntary road closure was put into place for 2011, but road mortality surveys conducted by Conservation Halton indicated it was not effective. Conservation Halton recommended a complete road closure for 2012, the City implemented the closure and there was no salamander mortality as a result.

The City of Burlington was presented with the Stewardship Award at the 2012 Conservation Halton Awards for its bold step to undertake a full closure of King Road during the critical breeding period.  The cooperative partnership between Burlington and Conservation Halton bolstered public support for species at risk protection and provided a model for other municipalities to follow.

This year’s closure was from March 25 to April 15 and while it may not get as much attention, it still is a very significant conservation measure which assists in the protection and recovery of the Jefferson Salamander population in Canada.

About Conservation Halton Awards

The Conservation Halton Awards annually recognize environmental heroes in our watershed who have worked hard to protect, preserve, or enhance our environment. This year’s awards will be presented on Tuesday, June 23 in the evening at the Milton Centre for the Arts.

If you know a Conservation Hero, you can nominate them for a Conservation Halton Award by clicking here. No act of green is too small … or too big! The Awards deadline is May 15, 2015 and the categories are:

  • Citizen
  • Citizen (Youth)
  • Community
  • Corporate
  • Education (Individual)
  • Education (Group or School)
  • Media / Blogger
  • Stewardship

Jefferson Salamander

About the Jefferson Salamander

In Canada, the Jefferson Salamander is found in Southern Ontario in select areas of deciduous forest, mostly along the Niagara Escarpment. Forested areas in Burlington provide the necessary breeding habitat required by this species.

Jefferson Salamanders spend the winter underground. As the weather warms up and the spring rains begin, the salamanders emerge and migrate to breed in temporary ponds formed by run-off, laying their eggs in clumps attached to underwater vegetation. By late summer, the larvae lose their gills and leave the pond to head into the surrounding forests.


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Three Ways to Get Involved with the Conservation Halton Foundation

Written by: Lisa Turza, Development Officer

You’ve grown up to believe that our environment is incredibly important; is actually essential to all of human existence. You plant native trees and plants in your yard. You don’t run the faucet while you brush your teeth. You are an environmental champion. But if you are looking for new ways to get involved in working so preserve our local environment, here are six ways that you can get involved with us, and make a difference in your community!

The Deer Clan Longhouse

The Deer Clan Longhouse

1: Go Beyond this Blog Post: Read about what we’ve got going on! There are many projects to support, so find out which one speaks to you! If you believe in educating students about our water and forest resources, then the Halton Children’s Water Festival, or Halton Forest Festival are for you! Are you intrigued by our native Ontario birds of prey? Have a look at how you can help to feed the eagles. Get involved with us and help save an endangered species, purchase lands to protect them forever from development or build a completely new trail network for everyone to enjoy. There are many exciting things going on in your community, find out how you would like to get involved!

2: Donate: So you now know what we’re all about, you’ve read about the Conservation Halton Foundation on our website, and seen a few of the cool things that are done to help preserve the environment. You can support these projects by donating. You can go on Canada Helps, or call us at 905-336-1158 to give. You can give directly to the project that you feel most passionate about, or you can give to our greatest need. By donating, you are investing in the success of the project you believe in. In many ways, our donors make it possible to achieve these great results, and we thank you so much for offering your support to meet these goals.

3: Host your Own Event: Invite your friends to get involved with your passion for saving the environment. Invite them over for an Earth Hour games night (coming up on Saturday March 28!), or an environmental themed movie night. Get together and raise money for your favourite project while having fun with your friends at the same time! Share your event pictures with us and we’d be happy to post them! Show us how much fun saving the environment can be!

Three MORE Ways to get involved with the Conservation Halton Foundation

1: Become a Leader at Your School: Oh the classic bake sale, does it ever go out of style? Educate your fellow students about how you are helping the Conservation Halton Foundation projects, and have them eat your green sweet treats!

2: Visit the Parks: By getting involved with Conservation Halton’s seven Conservation Areas, you are getting closer to what the Conservation Halton Foundation is all about. Projects funded by the Foundation can be found in all of the parks. Come for a Hike to see the Deer Clan Longhouse at Crawford Lake, or take a walk on the Wildlife Walkway at Mountsberg. Our amazing community of donors contribute to projects all around the parks.

3: Keep Being You: Just by taking a moment to think about how you can help to protect the environment in your everyday life, you are making sure that you are doing all you can to support what you believe in: a greener future. Tell us about what you are doing to save the environment every day!

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Stream of Dreams: Only Rain Down the Drain

Stream of Dreams


 By Sasha Benevides, Festival Coordinator; and, Norm Miller, Communications Advisor 

If you’ve been anywhere in Halton, or even in Hamilton and Mississauga, you’ve probably seen them. Beautifully painted, wooden fish, ‘swimming’ together, attached to a fence beside a school. Sometimes you can find them beside a park, but most often they’re beside a school.

These wooden fish murals are a reminder to those who painted them (predominantly children) of the fish and other creatures who live in the creeks and streams in their community, and how important it is for us to protect their home.

This message is what Stream of Dreams is mainly about, protecting our creeks, lakes, rivers and streams for the fish and other creatures who live there and don’t have a voice. It is a reminder that what goes down the storm drain on your street will end up in those bodies of water. So for example, if you live in Burlington and dump a quart of motor oil down the storm drain, rather than disposing it at the proper waste management site for appropriate recycling, chances are it’s going to Lake Ontario!

Stream of Dreams was launched by Conservation Halton in 2006, when it became the first program outside British Columbia, where it was created. Conservation Halton has delivered Stream of Dreams to more than 70 schools and groups reaching 28,000 (28768 to be exact) students and people in the community since launching in 2006.

Each elementary school that participates is required to pay $5 a student and do a lot of work before Conservation Halton’s Stream Team arrives in the school. They prepare and cut their fish so every student and teacher can paint their dream fish. The schools receive a template to ensure they properly cut their salmon, pike and sunfish and more.

The appeal of the program to schools is Conservation Halton’s Stream Team customizes their stream talk so the students learn about the creek or stream in their community. In addition, they ensure the talk is geared to the students they’re presenting to so the message relates to students from kindergarten to grade 8. No matter the age, the students are interested and engaged!

Once their stream talk is complete the students go into the painting room to complete their one of a kind dreamfish which will go on the fence to remind them and everyone in the school community of the important message they just heard.

This year Conservation Halton is celebrating the tenth year of bringing Stream of Dreams to its watershed and will be visiting ten schools starting in  April 2015. If you’re interested in bringing Stream of Dreams to your school, please contact Conservation Halton. We are always looking for donations of plywood and volunteers to cut fish as well. You can call us at 905-336-1158 or send an e-mail to our Stream of Dreams Coordinator.

About Stream of Dreams

The Stream of DreamsTM Program brings awareness to communities about their local watersheds through environmental education and stunning public artwork. The goal of the program is to improve water quality, while at the same time creating a community art legacy as a reminder of our environmental responsibilities.

The program originated in Burnaby, British Columbia where it is administered by the Stream of Dreams Murals Society. Conservation Halton is proud to be the first organization to officially bring the program to Ontario and to our watershed! There are Stream Teams in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario.


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Halton Children’s Water Festival 2011

By Rafay Agha, Interactive Media Writer, Conservation Halton

Between First Nations story-telling, poo-tag (yes, you read that correctly), puppet shows, pioneer water-bucket races and countless other Halton Children’s Water Festival (HCWF) activities, Kelso Conservation Area was buzzing with excitement last week. Outburst of laughter, oohs, aahs and shrieks of joy made for a festival that can be best described as controlled chaos. Afterall, we’re talking about grade two, three, four and five students here. We want them to be loud, engaged and excited! The festival ran from September 27th to 30th 2011, and hundred of high school, community, staff and partner volunteers come out to support the cause of keeping responsible water management top of mind.

Excited (and competitive) grade three students wait their turn at the Pioneer Water Challenge led by Milton District high school students

Each grade occupies a separate camp area at Kelso and elementary students rotate from activity to activity and tent to tent. Within each tent, professional or high school volunteers demonstrate and facilitate different workshops or activities. Luckily this year the weather cooperated and cool, grey mornings made way for bright (dare we say warm?) afternoons. 

Darby and Amanda from Milton District High School enjoying some peace and quiet early in the morning before the elementary school students arrive

Each activity lasted either 15 or 30 minutes at which point the air horn would go off and the students rotated to another tent. Activities cater to school curriculum and this can lead to some very good questions and discussion, especially among the grade fours and fives.

The Festival is co-hosted by Conservation Halton and Halton Region in partnership with the Halton District School Board, the Halton Catholic District School Board, the City of Burlington, the Town of Halton Hills, the Town of Milton and the Town of Oakville in order to create a successful and financially sustainable water festival in Halton. A number of community sponsors also support the Festival.

Could you ask for a better view?

 To find out more about the Halton Children’s Water Festival, feel free to comment below or visit http://www.hcwf.ca/

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Forests: The Lungs of the Planet

Mount Nemo
Mount Nemo Conservation area
By Norm Miller, Communications Advisor | Conservation Halton

Many of us know that forests and trees are important to us, but have you ever stopped and thought about all the benefits they provide? Sure, forests are a place to walk your dog, and the colours look incredible in the fall, but what are the  other benefits?

Forests provide a home for wildlife and help maintain our biodiversity, clean our water and the air we breathe, as well as other indispensable environmental benefits. The United Nations declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests (IYF) to help reinforce the importance of forests. Celebrations are taking place around the world, including here in the Conservation Halton (CH) watershed, for people to consider the role forests play in our everyday lives.

Forests are the lungs of the earth providing invaluable air and water filtration services. Trees replenish our oxygen and filter out air pollution, including potentially harmful things – like carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) and sulphur dioxide – which are known to cause health concerns for us. Trees are vital for the water we drink, help cool our cities and towns, and are home to many species of plants, birds and other wildlife.

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