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  • River to Plate Fish Seminar

    River to Plate Fish Seminar

    Sponsored by the Ministry of Natural Resources North Bay

    Supported by the French River Stewardship Council

    Wednesday, April 11, 2012 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

    Alban Community Centre

    Dokis First Nation Elders Video Presentation


    Traditional Fishery

    Presented by Randy Restoule, Dokis First Nation

    Community and Economic Development Officer


    Traditional Fishery Project 42

    Presented by Norm Dokis, MNR Resource Liaison Officer


    The Science of Fish Recovery

    Presented by George Morgan, Fishery Biologist for French River Management Plan



    Blind Taste Tests

    Fish Cleaning Demonstrations

    Traditional Recipes

    A fun, interesting evening for family & friends!

    Learn how to clean different species of fish and enjoy some samples

    Date Added: March 16, 2012 | Comments Off | Filed under: Events,News — Tags: , — webedit @ 7:44 pm

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    French River – Lake Nipissing Water Levels Part II of III



    PART II of III


    March 2012


    The spring of 1947 saw one of the worst floods on the French River.  There was considerable damage to tourist lodges and camps along the river.  Probably the worst single case of damage was suffered by Pine Cove Lodge on Wolseley Bay.  The entire lower level floors of the main lodge were completely flooded.

    That same year saw the formation of the French River Resorts Association.  One of the first efforts of the Association was to launch a lawsuit against the Federal Government, the Department of Public Works for damages caused as a result of mis-management of the French River dams.  It had only recently become possible to sue the Federal Government.  The FRRA lawsuit was one of the first, and the litigation was successful.

    Damages were paid to approximately ten businesses.  Just as important, the lawsuit led to a flood limit being established at Dry Pine Bay.  Should this new flood limit be exceeded as a result of mis-management of the dams and not by natural causes or acts of God, the Dept. of Public Works could be held liable for damages.

    There have been several floods since 1947, some quite damaging, but never as bad as the 1947 flood, and as a result many changes were made over the years.  Roads were re-routed and raised.  Boathouses and cottages were also raised or moved out of harms way.  Most importantly, a general awareness by property owners of what water levels can be like and how to cope with them is now the case.  There has also been flood plain mapping completed along the French River and Lake Nippissing, and restrictions have been put in place regarding where new buildings are permitted.

    For over 60 years, The French River Resorts Association has continued to be active in getting more consideration from the Dept. of Public Works in their operation and management of the French River dams.  Property damage as a result of water levels is a serious issue but it pales compared to the damage that has occurred to the French River fisheries over the years as a result of varying water levels at spawning times.  The fisheries were, and still are of primary importance to the tourist industry on the French River.

    Consider these facts about fish spawning.  Northern Pike spawn early, right after the ice-out and   they can also be seen spawning in shallow water before the ice is completely gone.  They lay their eggs in 8 to 18 inches of water.  If the water level is dropped a foot after spawning, the eggs are high and dry. If the   water level is raised by 2 feet or more, no sunlight is available and the eggs do not hatch.  It is the same for Walleye but the window is not quite so narrow in regards to the water levels.  For decades there was no concern on the part of the Dept. of Public Works or the Ministry of Natural Resources over the damage being done almost every year.  Levels were raised or lowered at critical spawning times with little or no regard to what was happening to the fisheries.

    The French River Resorts Association became increasingly more aware of the water level issue as the years passed and fishing success continued to decline.  The Association was very persistent in their request for changes to be made in the mandate and operational guidelines used by the Dept. of Public Works in the management of the French River dams.  The Association demanded that down river concerns and priorities be recognized when deciding on raising or lowering water levels at critical times.

    In spite of the pressure, the Dept. of Public Works continued to see their role and mandate as first, the Lake Nippissing navigation level on the 15th of May each year.Secondly, flood amelioration on Lake Nippissing and the French River.  It took years of effort on the part of French River Resorts Association before the DPW started to change their thinking.

    The fact that the Dept. of Public Works had been successfully sued in the early 1950’s kept the D.P.W trying to avoid another lawsuit. The D.P.W undertook what at first appeared to be flood relief work on the French River.  During the late 1960’s and 1970’s widening and deepening of the channels at Pine Rapids, Horseshoe Falls, the Little French cut and the Dallas Rapids was carried out.  None of this work was ever really intended to stabilize water levels on the French River.  The work was only intended to permit more cubic meters of water to be discharged at the dams when Lake Nippissing was very high without exceeding the flood limit levels on the French River.

    Part III will continue with the water level history and we will learn what was accomplished and how we got there.


    Date Added: March 12, 2012 | Comments Off | Filed under: News — Tags: — webedit @ 3:33 pm

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    French River – Lake Nipissing Water Levels Part I of III

     February 2012

     Submitted by the FRSC Communications Committee

    Living or cottaging on the French River or Lake Nipissing makes the issue of water levels and how they are managed a matter of continuing interest.  In this three part article there will be an attempt to explain some of the history of management efforts and where we are today with trying to meet current management objectives.  That is, despite how Mother Nature continually tries to surprise and upset the managers.

    The Lake Nipissing – French River watershed is very large at some 19,000 square KM.  It encompasses hundreds and hundreds of lakes, rivers and streams.  When the last glacier that covered all of this area retreated some 10,000 years ago we were left with this beautiful landscape that we all appreciate and enjoy.

    The largest lake in the watershed is Lake Nipissing at 850 Sq.KM.  It is the fourth largest lake in Ontario.  The watershed includes the Lake Temagami and Lake Wanapitei areas.  Most of the watershed is north and a little east of Lake Nipissing and most of the waters in the watershed area drain into Lake Nipissing and then down the French River.

    The foregoing is background in an attempt to outline the complexities that arise when man decides that we should control water levels on parts of the upper watershed, on the main water body and finally no controls on the bottom end of the drainage which is the French River.

    A number of bodies of water that drain into Lake Nipissing have control mechanisms, most do not. Some smaller dams on those water bodies are there simply to hold stable water levels on those waters.  Some of the larger dams are producing power.  There are presently efforts being made at strategic times to co-ordinate the operations of the different dams in order to preserve water for hydro power making or for flood control.

    Because so many water bodies are not controlled, the efforts to achieve a good result are not always successful.  Finally, Mother Nature and weather predictions that are sketchy at best, can really throw a monkey wrench into man-made planning.  Efforts will continue however, utilizing best known practices.

    During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s forestry operations were extensively being carried out around Lake Nipissing, particularly North and West of the Lake.  The only practical way of moving the logs being harvested considerable distances was down the rivers and into the lake.  For many years there was a large saw mill operation in Cache Bay which is just west of Sturgeon Falls. That mill processed thousands and thousands of the logs that were brought to the lake for many, many years.

    However, there was always a problem by early or mid-summer in floating the logs into the bay as Lake Nipissing water levels would naturally go down with summer dryness and cause difficulties in shallow Cache Bay.  So, at some point in the early 1900’s, it was decided that the Government should build dams on the Upper French River in order to facilitate the large lumber interests in getting their logs to the Cache Bay mill.  The dams would provide a stable water level all season on Lake Nipissing.  A desirable level was established and subsequently, has always been referred to as the level for navigation.  The goal every spring was to have the lake at that level by May 15th.

    Over the years many structures such as docks, boathouses and cottages have been established along the lake shores to take advantage of the navigation level.  Boating was also facilitated by the stable water levels.  This was especially true for the larger deep draft vessels such as the successive Chief Commanda’s that sailed the lake from end to end.

    When the dams were built on the Upper French River the Government and their engineers apparently gave no thought to what the impacts would be on the Lower French River ecology and the rivers fish population.  It seemed that the only consideration was what the effects would be on the lake and would they be beneficial.

    As a result, serious flooding occurred in the 1940’s and 1950’s, along with observable harmful impacts on the river fisheries, brought forth an outcry from the French River Tourist Operators and others about how the dams were being managed.  A long arduous effort began to try and change some of the French River dam operational criteria and mandates.  In the next segment of this story there will be more history presented related to this issue, and what has been achieved to date.

    Please watch for Part II in the next edition brought to you by the French River Stewardship Council.

    Date Added: February 10, 2012 | Comments Off | Filed under: News — Tags: — webedit @ 5:56 pm

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    Projects for FRSC 2012


    Continue to monitor phosphate hot spots on the French River and determine causes and possible remedies.

    Continue with spawning bed rehabilitation and dam removals.

    Tree Planting:
    Continue to plant buffer zone around Municipal Landfill site with community partners.

    Continue to improve communication and environmental education to the general public through media and public meetings.

    Shore Line Restoration:
    Start a new program of shoreline restoration using flower bed plants to filter runoff to the French River.

    Community Partnerships:
    Continue to foster partnerships with local high school École Secondaire de la Rivière-des-Français, MOE, MNR, Municipality, Businesses and other Environmental Stewardships.

    Date Added: January 16, 2012 | Comments Off | Filed under: News — Tags: — webedit @ 9:12 pm

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    Spawning Bed Rehabilitation

    October 2011

    Why Spawning Beds Must Be Clean

    Walleye (pickerel) usually spawn in rivers, but will also spawn in lakes if the spawning beds are suitable.  A spawning bed is an area, which is usually in shallow water with a gravel bottom and swift moving water.  The swift moving water is required to keep silt from building up and to provide oxygen to the eggs.

    The male walleye usually arrive first when water temperature is slightly above freezing followed by the females which arrive later.  The female will select or create a hollow in the gravel and deposit her eggs on the gravel, where they will stick to the rocks. When the female is finished she will move away and the male will pass over the eggs and deposit the sperm necessary to fertilize the eggs.  Once the eggs are fertilized they will hatch in about 26 days. They must get food (zooplankton) within 3-5 days or die.  The food may drift down to them in the current or the young walleye (fry) must drift down stream to find food.

    The problem many spawning beds are facing today is that the waters of the lakes and streams have an over abundance of phosphates and nitrates. This allows an abundant growth of algae which coats the gravel preventing the eggs from sticking to the rocks. This results in the eggs being washed away by the swift current and not being fertilized.  The French River Stewardship Council volunteers and supporters cleaned three spawning beds this year.  The pictures below show the before and after of cleaning one of the rocks at the spawning site located at Meshaw Falls.

    Meshaw Falls, Lower Sturgeon River and Bell Island  spawning areas were cleaned by removing debris, re-locating rocks and gravel and  using high pressure hoses to remove algae from the rocks, thus allowing spawning fish access to clean spawning beds.  The cleaned locations will be monitored in the spring of 2012 and if required, further cleaning will be done after the spawn. The Lower Sturgeon River, just west of the Turenne Rd. bridge required the removal of two dams to allow spawning fish access to the spawning areas further up the river.  A barge and excavator were used and the debris was trucked to the Municipal land fill site. The beavers have since returned and started to build another dam.  The FRSC has requested the local trapper to remove the beavers.  This area will also be monitored in the spring of 2012.  The FRSC directors were grateful and would like to thank the property owner, Mr. Scott Campbell who allowed the volunteers, the excavator and dump truck access to his property in order to remove the dams and debris. Presently, nine spawning areas requiring cleaning have been identified on the French River and the FRSC executive has ascertained we require approximately $15,000.00 over the next two years to complete our project.  This portion of our fisheries project could not have been started without the following contributors and volunteers.

    Economic Partners,


    East/West Nippising Mr. Neil Fox, General Manager was at the Lower Sturgeon River and worked with our volunteers moving rocks and manned the pressure hose. Economic Partners contributed $5,000.00 towards the fisheries project.

    Caisse Populaire d’Alban Ltée Mr. Stephan Methot, General Manager, was at Meshaw Falls cleaning rocks with the pressure hose, and a contribution of $1,000.00 was donated to the fisheries project.

    Caisse Populaire de Noëlville Ltee Mr. Jean-Serge Pharand, General Manager, attended our AGM in July and a cheque was received for $1,000.00 for the fisheries project.

    Ministry of Natural Resouces
    Mr. Eric Cobb, Acting Area Supervisor advised us of a $3,900.00 contribution to the fisheries project.

    Claude Albert, Ron Aubrey, Carl Bisaillon, Joe Dippong, Ron Garbutt, Jim Hanham, Mac Heddle, Ron Ireland, Richard Martel, Ron Raymond, Moe Rancourt, Jim Rook, Don Vernon and Peter Williams.

    Date Added: | Comments Off | Filed under: News — Tags: — webedit @ 8:20 pm

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    Community Partnership for the Environment

    November 2011

    Community Partnership for the Environment

    The French River Stewardship Council held its fourth annual “Plant a Tree for the Environment ” day. This year we are proud to say that once again the community supported the event. The directors would like to thank the following supporters and volunteers for their help:

    Vale :

    Members of the Environmental Group at Vale. They have provided the French River Stewardship Council with seedling trees for the last four years. This year they provided us with 600 White Spruce and 600 Red Pine seedlings.

    Municipality of French River:

    Public Works who cleared a buffer zone in front of the municipal landfill site for the planting of the trees. They also provided the students with tools and material.

    École Secondaire de la Rivière-des-Français:

    The students and teachers, who with great enthusiasm planted all the trees in less than 2 hours. The students then policed the area around the landfill site picking up blown debris. Their concern for the environment is important for future generations. Their willingness to work for the betterment of the community is an inspiration to all.

    Caisse Populaire de Noëlville Ltée:

    Jean-Serge Pharand, General Manager for volunteering to assist the students in the planting of the trees. He was quick to roll up his sleeves and go to work.

    Date Added: January 14, 2012 | Comments Off | Filed under: Events,News — Tags: — webedit @ 6:58 pm

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    Board of Directors

          Board of Directors 2012-2013

    Ron Aubrey                 Mac Heddle

    Carl Bisaillon                Richard Martel

    Richard Bisaillon         Malcolm Lamothe

    Joe Dippong                Jim Rook

    Ron Ireland                  Peter Williams

    Ron Garbutt                 Dean Wenborne


    Date Added: | Comments Off | Filed under: News — Tags: — webedit @ 2:47 pm

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    January 2010 update

    January 2010

    Fisheries Management

    The Ministry of Natural Resources completed the sampling of fish from 3 parts of the river as planned in November

    Detailed information from this study will be available early in 2010 – stay tuned.

    We thank the MNR for their support and continuing efforts to help improve the fishing experience on our river.

    The Stewardship council will begin to study identified spawning sites in late April and then develop and implement activities to rehabilitate or enhance these locations.

    New Web Site….. www.frenchriverstewardship.ca

    We now have a new web site containing much more information about our activities, our volunteers, and our projects.

    The site includes a ‘members only’ section where we post copies of our membership meeting minutes and other material for the exclusive use of our membership.

    Members will receive ‘how to access’ information in a mailing early in 2010.

    Please visit us frequently as we will update the information on a regular basis.

    Lagoon Project

    We are pleased to report that the Municipality has requested a Sudbury engineering firm to prepare a septage plan. The primary purpose of the septage plan is to provide a tool and source information for determining total septage generated currently, current system capacity, future 20 year treatment capacity needs, and how these needs can be best met.

    The study will also look at minimizing effluent impact on receiving waters. Although only a first step, we see this as a positive and proactive beginning.

    Water Sampling and blue green algae

    In the fall of this year we completed the third year of our three year sampling project. The project saw volunteers collect over 180 samples during the spring to fall period. The results of our 2009 samples are expected from the Ontario Lake Partner Program by April of 2010 at which time we will issue a final report. A select few sample sites will be continued in areas where water quality and blue green algae blooms are of concern.  Finding solutions to these critical water issues will require support from all government levels and the local community. Please plan to attend our public and members meeting this summer for a more complete update on our efforts to date.

    Thank You

    You Stewardship Council thanks all those who have supported us through memberships and donations and hard work. We encourage you to contact us with questions and suggestions, to learn more about our waterways and ways you can help to improve our water quality.


    Date Added: January 11, 2010 | Comments Off | Filed under: News — Tags: , , , — webedit @ 11:11 pm

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    Fishing on the French River – November 2009

    Fishing on the French River

    Your Stewardship Council is in the process of assuming the activities and responsibilities of the French River Community Fisheries Advisory Committee (FRCFA)

    The FRCFA was formed in 1992 by combining a couple of other groups that were working to understand and enhance the status of fishing on the river.

    For the last 18 years, the FRCFA has been very active and working diligently with the Ministry of Natural Resources, the various lodges on the river, cottagers, and many local residents in this endeavour.

    In 1993 a plan was built to support the natural stocking of the river specifically with Pickerel, but also improving the breeding habitat for Pike and Bass.  This included the implementation of restricted harvesting of fish stocks through implementation and  management of the slot size and reduction of creel limits

    The next step of this plan is underway this fall and as you are reading this, a netting program is being implemented by the MNR in all parts of the river to enable the team to determine the level of success of their plan.

    For this purpose, the river is divided into 4 sections as follows:

    Eastern is from the Dokis Reserve to the Cedar Rapids

    Eighteen Mile Bay is from Cedar Rapids to Meeshaw Falls, including Ranger Bay

    Central is the main channel, the south side of Eighteen Mile Island to Recollet Falls, including Dry Pine Bay

    Western is from Recollet Falls to the Delta

    The complete details and results of this program will be presented in the spring of 2010.

    Also at that time, your Stewardship council will form a project committee to continue this work and ensure that we not only maintain but continue to improve the fishing experience on our river.


    We all owe the folks of the FRCFA a great THANK YOU for their efforts of the last 18 years or so.  When they began this program, fish stocks in the river were in serious decline and we were about to lose our reputation as a primary tourist destination.

    A series of studies, both informal and scientific were conducted to enable the team to better understand the then current stocking level in all part of the river.  Individual surveys were done with tourists, residents, commercial businesses and the results compiled to provide a solid data base for the committee.

    The plan called for continued monitoring of the fish population to ensure goals were being met.  While the results differed on different parts of the river, all sections showed significant improvement over the test period.

    As the program continues its journey to its planned conclusion, we need to make sure we keep up the good work and bring the fish habitat back to all sections of the river to ensure they breed and multiply in a natural environment

    Under the guidance of the MNR and the Stewardship Council, the new committee with be charged with identifying all existing and potential spawning sites, ensuring the sites are clean and being used in the spawning season, and implementing whatever enhancements are required to expand the natural reproduction cycles.

    The committee will call on our members for assistance and direction.  Funding will be an important part of the program as we will need resources to implement this work.

    We will continue to bring you more information in the next edition of the French River Today

    Date Added: November 26, 2009 | Comments Off | Filed under: News — Tags: , — webedit @ 12:56 pm

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    AGM Recap – September 2009

    The annual meeting of your Stewardship Council was held on July 26that the Alban Community Center

    President Joe Dippong delivered his review of the major projects from last year.

    • We are continuing to inform the general public of our activities through our local newspaper “The French River Today” we also send update information to our members prior to the annual meeting.
    •  In our water quality sampling project we are completing our 3rd year and final year.
    •  From previous year sampling we identified sewage lagoons as a potential source of water quality issues and so began a lagoon study and project.
    • We completed our second year of our tree planting project and involved our local schools this year.
    • We have been successful in our request for input into dam design for the upper French river dam rebuilds. With our input water quality with respect to oxygen carrying ability was included in the design.
    • We have formally been requested by the French River Municipal council to provide our input on water quality issues. We will act as an advisory group with a steadfast focus on water quality.
    • We are now a ‘not for profit organization.

    Our plans for 2009 and 2010 include important projects which are:

    1. In our advisory role with the Municipality, we plan to pursue next steps and to request government funding to continue our Lagoon project. We feel this is the most important item on our agenda at this time
    2. We plan to do some clean up of Pickerel spawning beds. We will be asking for volunteers to help with this and other projects.
    3. Many residents have expressed concerns about the Pickerel fishing declines and so we plan to review with the MNR their policy for the management of Pickerel in the French River.
    4. Testing of water quality will continue in targeted areas and may be expanded where appropriate.
    5. We are planning a membership drive and communications project with grass roots support. We hope to have active members from all areas of the river.
    6. The tree planting activities will continue in 2010 and we again plan to involve local schools.
    7.  We are aggressively pursuing government funding for our various projects.

    Greg Mason from the eastern Georgian Bay stewardship Council presented information on the learning’s and challenges of that group with respect to Blue Green Algae and the Sturgeon Bay area of Pointe au Baril.

    Extensive studies and analysis of the water and surrounding areas have determined the levels of phosphorous are excessive and reducing phosphate input is the best way to prevent similar situations, as a result all residents are encouraged to use phosphate free soaps, laundry and dishwasher detergents. This one single action by everyone will greatly reduce nutrient loading.

    In the member’s portion of the meeting, the Board of Directors for the year 2009/2010 was confirmed as:

    Joe Dippong         Ron Garbutt          Rose  Heddle                  Mac Heddle            Dean Wenborne     

    Norman Stoner    Terry Young          Mike Palmer              Garrie Roman      Jim Rook

    Carl Bisaillon      Richard Martel

     As a volunteer organization, we need active members – please visit our web site for information on how you can join us as a member or as a volunteer to help in our efforts to maintain and improve the long term quality of our water

    Date Added: September 26, 2009 | Comments Off | Filed under: News — Tags: — webedit @ 12:53 pm

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