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Bonavista steps up for wetland stewardship

Members of the Stewardship Association of Municipalities (SAM) flocked to Bonavista on Sept. 26 and 27 for their semi-annual fall meeting.

John Norman in 2012 in front of one of the stewardship sites of Bonavista, Old Days Pond.

SAM offers a forum for communities to share information and help resolve wetland stewardship issues. There are 36 member communities members in the province and 22 of them were represented at the meeting.

Bonavista is the only member community on the peninsula - the next closest members are in Come By Chance and Whitbourne.

John Norman, a stewardship representative for Bonavista, told The Packet there was excitement and encouragement at the meeting.

Among the plans underway are bringing in guest speakers such as Ducks Unlimited and Intervale - the latter a non-profit organization supporting wetland stewardship on the west coast of the province.

Norman said a walking tour of one of Bonavista's three stewardship sites, Old Days Pond, was a hit with visitors.

"They were very impressed with the story of the Old Days Pond area since it was formally a sewage outflow site. I did a historical breakdown of it - (such as) how the canal was built."

The pond was originally developed by Sir William Ford Coaker as a docking site for small boats. While the area wasn't ideal for boat storage due to siltation and the need for dredging because of tidal action in the canal, the pond went on to become a sewage outflow site before being turned into a clean, rehabilitated site, complete with community boardwalk.

"The amount of wildlife they saw, specifically coastal and shore birds, while we were on our visit, was really impressive," Norman said. "We did one loop of the boardwalk and they counted 13 different species, two of which were actually rare species that everyone was excited to see."

Old Days Pond is not the only stewardship site in Bonavista. There's also the Bonavista watershed, from Beaver Pond to Long Pond, including the area in between the two, as well as selected areas of the Cape Bonavista coastline and puffin colony.

During the meeting, Bonavista officially signed documentation to become a member of SAM and an executive election was held. Norman is the new secretary for the eastern region.

Norman has also put together an environmental committee made up of members of the Bonavista Horticultural Society and other local residents. That group will be involved in decisions, planning, community consultation and education related to wetland stewardship.

The Town of Bonavista put in a bid to host the fall meeting a little over a year ago and learned it had won at the spring meeting in Hawke's Bay on the Northern Peninsula.

SAM's spring annual general meeting will be held in Flatrock.


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