Stewardship of the French River – Newspaper Article

May 2013

When the voyageurs first travelled these waters, they had little need to carry a lunch. Game and fish were there for the asking and the water was drinkable. Not so today. Logging has deforested the land to allow farming and the raising of cattle. Industries have come and gone leaving behind their mark. These activities have not only permanently altered the land but some of their by-products have over time infiltrated the surrounding waterways to questionable effect. As more people settled near the river, unrestricted usage and uninformed practices in the past have also contributed to the questionable quality of the river.

The impact of these stressors can be debated but the decline in the quality of our water and the decimation of the fish stocks is undeniable. Until the quality of the water supports the fish populations and allow their reproduction in a self-sufficient fashion, the French River Stewardship Council (FRSC) will continue its efforts at the rehabilitation or establishment of new spawning beds and possibly in the future, the stocking of fish in our area waters. The day where our intervention is unnecessary appears to still be in the far future.

The FRSC does not have the resources to restore, on its own, the pristine quality of the water. It is well beyond our capabilities. The current condition is the result of centuries of neglect and abuse. It will take a comprehensive effort combining initiatives from all levels of government, along with industrial and community awareness to start the long process of restoration of the environment.

Currently, there does not appear to be any other local group with a commitment as focused to this task as the FRSC. Therefore, we feel it is incumbent upon us to contribute what we can. We therefore offer our guidance and encourage the local population to help by contributing its share in reducing the negative impact on the waterways.

The FRSC will continue the testing of the area waters to help identify problematic sources. We can then isolate the origins of the problem and hopefully mitigate or even eliminate the causes. We will continue to share the results of this research with the public and also offer suggestions as to the solutions and changes necessary to achieve our common goal of cleaner water.

With the arrival of summer, cottagers and tourists are returning and we, along with the permanent citizens must enlist them in our common long-term goal of improving the water quality. A united constituency is the only way to bring about modifications to the undesirable and sometimes detrimental provincial policies that affect the watershed. Changes are required to the practices and habits that have developed during years of laissez-faire attitudes.

The French River Stewardship Council needs your help. We will be holding our Annual General Meeting this summer where we will be soliciting your feedback to aid our executive examine which priorities and projects will best direct our efforts. Come join us and contribute your share. The waterways, fisheries and your financial investment in this area all are dependent on our pulling together to turn things around.

Date Added: May 25, 2013 | Comments Off | Filed under: News — Tags: — webedit @ 12:33 pm

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

The River Needs Our Help – May 2009

The French River Needs Our Help

Water quality problems are increasing worldwide due to the pressures from population growth and development, and our area is no exception.  Increased pollution levels resulting from human activities are causing serious problems in many waterways, from toxic algae blooms to the decimation of local fish populations.  Phosphorous loading is recognized as a key indicator of water quality and is an area that is being addressed by the French River Stewardship Council.   The targets for phosphorous loading established by our research are;

  • Less than 10 micrograms per litre (?g/L) indicates natural nutrient levels.
  • 10 to 15 ?g/L is nutrient enrichment of concern.
  • Over 15 ?g/L is an indication of significant water quality problems.

After reviewing our second year of detailed sampling results, the French River Stewardship Council is raising the level of concern with respect to the deterioration of water quality. The nutrient loading, as measured by phosphorous concentration, has reached unacceptable levels with 5 of our 14 test sites averaging above 15 ?g/L for the 2008 sampling season and only 3 of 75 tests returning levels less than 10 ?g/L.  If left unchecked the results are very clear;

  • A decrease in water clarity with an increase in weed growth particularly in sheltered and bay areas.  More and more areas will become weed choked. Invasive species such as milfoil will flourish.
  • The shoreline and rocks become covered in slippery sediment and algae.  The sedimentation on rocks will have devastating effects on Pickerel and eventually cause a decline in sport fish.  Pickerel, Pike and Bass will be replaced by Carp, Suckers and Catfish species.
  • More serious blue green algae events will occur and eventually last the entire summer season. Once this occurs vacationers will leave and property value will plummet.

These events are already occurring in nearby waters and they are very real. The areas that are of main concern are;

  • The operation of the various Lagoon facilities. These are the lagoons the handle the septic waters from our communities.  We are reviewing our findings with the Clean Water Agency who are responsible for lagoon operation. We have concerns with respect to their operating procedures.  In addition, we are requesting a large Provincial Government grant of approximately $130,000 to develop better water cleaning processes at all lagoon sites.
  • The issue of sustainable development and human impact. The things that seemed okay 40 years ago no longer are acceptable. We are working with local municipalities to ensure that the problem is understood and that they become part of the solution.  Environmental concerns must be central in the decision making process.
  • We are making a major effort to educate the local public with respect to the real problems we now face.  Simple efforts by individuals, such as using phosphate free detergents and maintaining natural shorelines, can have a significant positive impact.

Date Added: May 26, 2009 | Comments Off | Filed under: News — Tags: — webedit @ 1:12 pm

Activities – January 2009


Your Stewardship Council has completed the second year of our sampling project. We expanded the sampling sites from 12 to 14 as the 2007 results showed two areas of the river that needed a more detailed analysis. The 2008 results are expected shortly and will be posted on our website and sent via mail to all members in our year end membership packages.

The 2009 program will add an additional 2 sites from the upper French which will be taken by the folks of the Upper French River Cottagers Association. These additions will mean 16 sampling points for the 2009 season. After year end 2009 we will have sufficient and broad enough data to reduce sample points to a few very targeted areas of the river and to provide a technical report of our findings. Sampling and research work to-date shows that our concerns about nutrient loading, specifically phosphates are warranted.

We are continuing our work towards becoming a not for profit corporation and plan to update our members during our 2009 membership meeting. We plan to hold a public meeting immediately following our members meeting so that we can update the general public on all our activities and future plans. This meeting is currently scheduled for July of 2009.

Your Stewardship Council is pleased to advise we have joined the Ontario Federation of Cottagers Association

FOCA is a large and very active group of about 500 cottage associations and, most importantly to us, also has about 300 water stewardship groups as members

We now have access to this membership to share findings and best practices as we work together to improve the quality of water in the French River watershed

FOCA is well recognized as a professional organization representing the thousands of property owners in Ontario’s vacation areas and has a strong voice at all levels of government.

Please see some information about management of your septic system elsewhere in this edition

As always, we need members!!!  If you have not joined us yet – be heard and stay informed!!

Date Added: January 27, 2009 | Comments Off | Filed under: News — Tags: — webedit @ 9:08 am