LITTLE CURRENT – Each year during the Manitoulin Streams’ fundraising gala, Jackets and Jeans, the organization takes a moment from the fun and events to acknowledge a volunteer organization. This year, that organization was the Lake Manitou Area Association (LMAA).
“Fact: Manitoulin Island is a great place to live,” Manitoulin Streams project manager Seija Deschenes began. “Great people, great beaches, great lakes, wildlife galore, and so much nature! But the main thing that contributes to Manitoulin’s identity and greatness is its abundance of volunteers and great people. There are so many volunteer-run organizations that Manitoulin wouldn’t be the place it is without them. Tonight, we’d like to recognize one of these amazing groups – the Lake Manitou Area Association.”
“Lake Manitou is the largest lake on a freshwater Island in the world. Its limestone bottom provides protection against the impacts of acid rain and there has been records of walleye greater than 14lbs caught in its waters. What an extraordinaire lake. We are so lucky to be able to enjoy Lake Manitou. As with everything that is enjoyed by many and used recreationally, Lake Manitou is subject to strains on its health. Luckily for us, the Lake Manitou Area Association, a non-profit volunteer-based organization, was established in 1993 to oversee the environmental integrity of Lake Manitou and its surrounding rivers and water systems. It is a significant organization with 238 members.
“As is often the case with volunteer-run organizations, LMAA began when a couple of concerned citizens banded together to address the health of Lake Manitou. In 1993 LMAA was founded by five volunteers (Peter Edward, John Edward, Mary Hutchinson, Doug Hutchinson and Alex Lochead). It has since grown into an organization run by a 13-member board of directors. The Board includes a newsletter coordinator, education committee, website administrator, hospitality coordinator and lake stewards.
“Every year the LMAA completes water testing and places shoal markers on the lake. They host an annual education event at the Old Schoolhouse Hall in Sandfield bringing in a variety of speakers to talk to their membership. They’ve had different MNRF biologists discuss algae, the results of a netting survey and the importance of stopping the spread of invasive species.
“LMAA has had a long-standing relationship with retired Blue Jay Creek Fish Culture operations manager, Paul Methner, who would regularly update the LMAA on water quality, dam operations and the stocking programs. Other topics included the importance of a septic system, the lake’s geology, how to handle an emergency on the lake, outboard motor maintenance, safe drinking water, fire safety at the cottage and best practices along the shoreline to promote a healthy lake.
“Most recently, they had a PhD student from Queen’s University discuss findings from a study on core samples taken from the bottom of Lake Manitou. This wide range of speakers helps keep the members informed on the health of their lake and what they can do to protect it.
“LMAA has been a huge partner with Manitoulin Streams over the years. Helping with stream restoration on the Manitou River and improving fish habitat in Lake Manitou, helping with livestock restriction, stream restoration and brook trout stocking events on Norton’s Creek. They have helped improve water quality entering Lake Manitou with the Green Bay Creek project restricting livestock, nose pump installment and riparian restoration and helped with other projects across Manitoulin Island planting native trees and shrubs.
“We know that volunteers are not looking for recognition, you volunteer because it’s something you are passionate about. Either way, Manitoulin Streams would like to take a moment to thank all of the wonderful volunteers at LMAA who have devoted their personal time to such a worthy cause. Whether it be the lake resident ensuring water quality is properly measured, or an individual preparing delicious treats for a meeting, or someone spending hours on a computer, we thank you.
“I’m sure there were times, as a volunteer you might have questioned the extent of the impact that your time and efforts have had. Well, we’re here to tell you that the results of LMAA’s labours are far-reaching and cross-generational, even if they don’t appear evident to you personally, they are.”
Ms. Deschenes then called to the front Mike Costigan, Don Payne and Ted Williamson where they were presented with a hand-crafted bench by Kathryn Corbiere of OneKwe to be put on the shores of Lake Manitou “for all of your members and the public to enjoy!”
“On behalf of Manitoulin Streams and the communities across Manitoulin Island we would like to take this time to thank you,” Ms. Deschenes concluded.