Boating in Canada Archive

St. Lawrence Islands National Park News 1999

Fall/Winter 1999

Dear Park Visitors and citizens,

Over the last several years, we have put some effort into working more closely with you. We have tried to become better listeners, and to involve everyone working at the park in providing excellent service based on your needs and wants.

I thought this might be a good time to provide you with an understanding of how your constructive criticism is taken into account when decisions are made at the park.
First though, some background information.

The National Parks Act:

The National Parks Act is our guiding document. This Act is the result of hundreds of thousands of hours of work, with input from millions of citizens. Since the act has to apply to all National Parks across Canada it is written in such a way as to leave room to respond to local conditions.

The Park Management Plan:

With the National Parks Act as a foundation, we prepare a management plan with public consultation. This plan provides more detail on how the National Parks Act will be applied at St. Lawrence Islands National Park. This is a public document, passed by an Act of Parliament and reviewed by parliament every 5 years. Normally plan updates would occur every 10 years unless circumstances require more frequent changes.

Daily Operations:

Even with the Act and the Plan, there is still room for flexibility in day to day park operations. This is where our ongoing communication with you is perhaps most important. We've used the following methods among others to ask for constructive criticism and to improve dialogue.

Newsletter:

Our communication to you via the newsletter, and your communication to us through your responses, help us to address the concerns you have over particular issues or park management in general. Each newsletter issue provides you with information on how to contact us with your concerns.

One-on-one conversations:

A second method is to make sure that our staff have the opportunity to talk to you. This year we trained four additional uniformed staff in how to work with visitors. Staff now have the ability to address minor problems on the spot, rather than having to wait to ask a supervisor or manager to deal with an issue.

For the last two years, we have contracted with Ron McCarville, an expert in customer service from the University of Waterloo on how staff can interact more effectively with park visitors and citizens. Responding to your comments and criticisms: Receiving and dealing with correspondence provides us with an effective way of letting park people know about your concerns. We receive 50 to 100 letters, notes, phone calls and conversations each year commenting on various issues related to the park. Unless the letters contain personal information, each letter is circulated to all park staff together with our letter of response. This ensures that everyone at the park is aware of the concern, and, as importantly, knows how we responded to it. We immediately deal with issues or concerns that can be resolved easily. More complex issues require more
discussion and contemplation.

Fall forum:

At our fall forum each year, we take all of the comments, criticisms and suggestions that you and our summer and permanent staff have provided over the last year and organize them into general areas of concern. We then ask staff to work together to help decide what measures the park will take to address the issue. This insures that your concerns are brought to the table, and that all permanent staff have an opportunity to see them and try to come up with a response to them.

We hope that these and other measures are resulting in a noticeable improvement in our service to both visitors and the other citizens of Canada who support this park with their fees or tax dollars.

With every newsletter we send, we include a comment, criticism and suggestion sheet which you can fill in and send to us. Or you may wish to send us an e-mail, use the telephone, drop a note into the collection vault or visit us in person. You may expect a response from us, no matter which method you use.

In any case, thanks for the constructive criticism. By listening to you, we become better at carrying out the important duties that Canadians have entrusted to us.

Norm Ruttan
Superintendent

NEW FEES FOR 2000/01

The following is a list of fee changes which apply to boaters next season. They are included here for your information and comments.

  Type of Fee      Current Fee  New Fee

Seasonal Overnight $22.00/metre $22.97/metre
				   $7/foot
Mooring Day Use    $12.00/metre $13.12/metre
				   $4/foot


Boat Length     Current Fee     New Fee
Transient       Per Night/Day  Per Night/Day
Mooring 0-17'11" $10     $5      $10   $5
18' -25'11"      $14     $7      $16   $8
26' -38'11"      $20     $10     $22  $11
39' & over       $24     $12     $26  $13

                Current Fee    New Fee
Island Camping  $10.00/night   $12.00/night


Each fall park staff meet to review comments from Park visitors made over the course of the operating season. This year's meetings took place on October 12, 13 and 14. The following issues affecting boaters were discussed:

Island Attendants

The change introduced in the past season to station island attendants in assigned island groupings and to combine visitor services and maintenance duties has received many positive comments. Compliance with payment of fees and observation of park rules has improved significantly and the offer of service has been improved because of the increased staff presence on park islands. Therefore, this approach will be continued in future years.

Use of Generators and Generator- Free Zones

In the spring edition of this newsletter, we asked for your views on the use of generators at park docks. We received 19 written comments about use of generators and the running of engines at docks along with some comments about noise in general.

About 2/3 of the comments favoured more restrictions on generators while 32% were opposed to more restrictions.

We now have generator-free zones at Mermaid, West Endymion and North and East Grenadier docks. Until now, generator use has been permitted at all other docks only between the hours of 8:00 am and 10:00 pm. The rules apply equally to both on board and off board generators.

In addition to comments about generators, a good number of people wrote in about noise at park docks in general. Many people felt that the solitude and quiet they were seeking in visiting a National Park was disturbed by the televisions, stereos and other devices that people brought along with them.

In response to visitor comments we will review the issue of generators over the winter period. By spring, we will let you know what we are proposing in the way of additional generator-free zones. Our approach would likely be to segregate boaters more than at present, with those preferring generators and other devices using one area, and those preferring quiet and solitude using another area.

We would like to remind visitors that no matter where they dock, there are rules about noise and generator use, and they should be respected. Visitors are reminded as well that if the rules aren't respected, you should contact us to ask that the rules be enforced.

Three night limit

Several complaints were received about boats being left unattended at docks and exceeding the limit of 3 consecutive nights per island. We ask that all visitors practice courtesy in observing this ruling. Also, if you see abuses of this, please document specifics of time, location and boat registration numbers and relay this to park staff or volunteer hosts.

Dogs off leashes

In our last newsletter we included an article on pets in the park. Over the past season, park staff have been making an extra effort to assure that dogs in the park are kept under proper control. While staff have been emphasizing the ruling to keep dogs tied on leashes, some complaints are still being received. The fine for this infraction is $65.00. Park wardens will be concentrating on problem areas for enforcement of this regulation.

Zone 7 Special Presentation Areas

Measures to protect the environmentally sensitive site at West Endymion were introduced last summer. These included defining trails, rehabilitating natural vegetation, moving the dinghy ramp and posting a bulletin explaining our objectives and actions. Monitoring plots were established as a baseline to determine, by ongoing monitoring in future years, whether the changes made are adequately protecting the site.

Several presentations were made by wardens and interpreters over the past summer explaining our approach. Public education will continue next season. Your comments and suggestions on this are welcome.

Bulletins were also posted at other Zone 1 sites in the park at Gordon, West Grenadier and Thwartway Islands explaining our preservation aims, objectives and approaches.

Whenever any physical changes on park property are contemplated, an environmental assessment procedure must be followed before work goes ahead. For example, if we are going to establish a new tent site, reroute a trail, or dig holes to install new signs, a park warden will first do an environmental assessment to assure that sensitive resources will not be impacted by the changes.

The environmental assessment process and the designation of Zone 1 areas requiring special protection are two methods to protect ecological integrity in the park.

Pack in / Pack out

Last summer the garbage receptacles were removed from the Zone 1 area on West Endymion. We thank you for your cooperation in not leaving refuse in this area. Generally, visitors were supportive of this change and only a few cases of incorrectly deposited garbage occurred.

Next year, no waste removal will be provided on Thwartway Island which is also designated a Zone 1 area. We ask for your assistance in not leaving any refuse where we have removed solid waste facilities to protect sensitive areas.

In other cases, garbage containers are removed and replaced with centralized facilities where it is too difficult for staff to access them so as to reduce our operating costs. For example, centralized garbage facilities on Beaurivage are used rather than having containers at remote floater docks on the east shore.

Mooring Buoys

In the past season, the 19 mooring buoys in the park were upgraded to have more secure anchors, shorter chains and better signage. Environmental monitoring has shown that the shorter chains have reduced the scouring of the river bottom around the anchors of the buoys.

Now that these measures to limit disturbance to aquatic ecology and to assure more secure moorings have been completed, a few new mooring buoys will be installed. Their location will be indicated in the spring newsletter.

Picnic tables

We frequently receive requests for more picnic tables at specific island locations. In some cases there arenot enough tables and at other times they have been moved away from where they are most needed. New picnic tables are being built small enough to fit onto park docks. These can be bolted to the dock or chained in place on the islands. These additional tables will eventually fill in the gaps where more tables are required.

Disabled Access

The commercial green lines on Central Grenadier and McDonald Islands will be signed with the wheelchair symbol for access by disabled users. Boaters who display the wheelchair symbol on their vessel will be allowed access to these dock sites.

For campers

Three new tent sites were installed at East Grenadier this summer. Also, on the south east shore of Beaurivage, a floater dock was installed close to two tent sites. This dock space is reserved for campers in small boats with valid camping and docking permits. It is available for use of other boaters after 7:00pm if not reserved by campers. We have a similar docking area for camper/ boaters on Central Grenadier. Other island sites are being examined for suitable camping locations close to shore for the convenience of paddlers and visitors in small boats.

In the future, we are also looking into establishing group campsites for up to 15 campers at 3 or 4 islands spaced out along the course of the river. This is to facilitate a small group of paddlers visiting the islands. At present, there are group campsites at Central Grenadier and at Mallorytown Landing. They must be reserved in advance.

PANEL ON ECOLOGICAL INTEGRITY

In November, 1998, the Panel on Ecological Integrity of Canada's National Parks was created to determine how best to ensure that ecological integrity is maintained across the system of Canadian National Parks. While their review addresses all national parks, seven parks, including St. Lawrence Islands, were selected for in- depth analysis.

Ecological integrity is defined as the condition of an ecosystem where (1) the structure and function of the ecosystem are unimpaired by stresses induced by human activity and, (2) the ecosystem's biological diversity and processes are likely to persist.

The majority of parks have significant impairment to ecological integrity and this is most pronounced in smaller and more southern parks. Key stressors external to national parks include habitat fragmentation and urbanization. Within parks, there are impacts from visitor use and infrastructure such as transportation corridors. Exotic plants and animals are others.

On February 17, 1999, a workshop was held to present the situation in St. Lawrence Islands National Park. Some park staff and partners made presentations on a range of subjects. Topics included natural resource monitoring and stressors in the park, our communication strategy, ecosystem conservation planning, historical land use and stewardship efforts by park partners.

The panel on ecological integrity will have their report with recommendations for national parks ready in the springtime. For more information, you can visit their web site at http://ecolog.org.

RETURN OF A MAJESTIC BIRD

The summer of 1999 proved to be very exciting for scientists involved in avifauna research. One of the osprey platforms erected in 1993 was discovered to be home to a nesting pair of bald eagles (<EM>Haliaeetus leucocephalus</EM>). The adults raised one eaglet. This was the first pair of bald eagles to nest in the Thousand Islands since the late 1930s at which time they were extirpated from the upper St. Lawrence River.

Also, along the north shore of Lake Ontario, bald eagles have not been nesting since 1958. Reasons for the decline were loss of suitable nesting habitat and the presence of contaminants such as DDT.

On the 7th of July this past summer, several agencies were represented by researchers from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Bird Studies Canada, the Canadian Wildlife Service, and St. Lawrence Islands National Park who travelled to the platform to remove the eaglet from the nest. This was accomplished with utmost care for the bird, which was "processed" at ground level. The eaglet was measured, weighed, banded, and had a blood sample taken. "She" was then returned to the nest without incident. The landowner of the small islet was also included in viewing the procedure and took many photos. He was thrilled to have such important tenants to his Thousand Islands property, and in the fact that the platform has been productive for both ospreys and eagles.
The adult pair continued to care for the eaglet until it fledged from the platform around the first of August. Park staff reported seeing the young eagle well into the fall season.

Analysis of the blood sample provides a glimpse at our ecosystem's health. The Park Warden Service anxiously awaits the results. There was no sign of any egg failures in the nest; therefore there was no indication of eggshell thinning. The mere fact the pair nested at all in the Thousand Islands is extremely encouraging.

We can all look forward to watching for these majestic birds next summer, as well as those which are known to already over winter in our area.


GREAT CANADIAN PARKS

Good Earth Productions Inc. has produced their fifth and final -,cries of television episodes on Canadian national and provincial parks for viewing on Discovery Channel. St. Lawrence Islands National Park will be aired on January l0th. Check your local listings for the time. Other parks in this series will include the wild Tatshenshini River on January gth and a total of 14 parks up to the end of March. Here is a list of episodes:

Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary, BC  Jan 3
Tatshenshinl~Alsek Park, BC/Yukon/Alaska  Jan 9
St. Lawrence Islands National Park, Ont.  Jan 10
Tuktut Nogait National Park, NWT          Jan 17
Wood Buffalo National Park, NWT/Alta      Jan 24
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, BC     Jan 31
Cape St. Mary's Ecological Reserve, Nfld. Feb 7
Mt. Revelstoke National Park, BC          Feb 14
Vuntut National Park, Yukon               Feb 21
Prince Albert National Park, Sask.        Feb 28
Churn Creek Provincial Park, BC           Mar 6
Greenwich, PEI National Park, PEI         Mar 13
Kejimkujik National Park, NS              Mar 20
Auyuittuq National Park Reserve - Nunavut Mar 27

MEMENTOS OF SLI

Originally conceived in the early 1870's, St. Lawrence Islands National Park was formally created in 1904, with 9 islands reserved for park purposes. In 2004 we will be celebrating the l00th anniversary of the park.

We would be interested in receiving from you copies of any anecdotes, recollections, photographs or memorabilia you might have that might be used in the celebration of the l00th birthday of the park.

WEARABLES WITH AN ISLAND LOOK

Lawrence Islands' distinctive trademark is featured T-shirts, golf shirts, pins and hats. Order yours today and come to the islands in style!

See List of selected items and order instructions on back page of this newsletter. Be sure to drop into the Park's Visitor Centre and see the complete inventory of nature oriented clothing and gift items for 2000.

THE THOUSAND ISLANDS ASSOCIATION NEEDS YOU

The Thousand Islands Association (TIA) is a non-profit organization made up of approximately 1,500 sailors and power boaters. Founded in 1922, the organization's membership is roughly half Canadian and half American, with a common interest in keeping the St. Lawrence River a safe and beautiful area.

One of the most visible functions carried out by the TIA is helping boaters avoid many of the dangerous shoals which populate the River on both sides of the International Boundary. Nearly 200 shoal markers are placed every spring in the St. Lawrence. These markers warn boaters about many of the shoals which are located in the more heavily traveled channels. They are bought, maintained, and placed at TIAs expense on the Canadian side of the River, and in co-operation with Save the River on the U.S. side.

Much of the work is done by volunteers and all of the expenses are covered by dues and contributions. Members of TIA are also kept advised about other timely topics, and receive a boat decal and regular newsletter.

If you are interested in supporting the TIA with a membership or financial contribution, send your cheque to

TIA, PO. Box 274, Gananoque, ON, K7G 2T8, or PO. Box 81, Alexandria Bay, NY, 13607.

Annual membership fees are $20.00. Please include your summer and winter mailing addresses with your cheque.

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COMMENTS?

We invite your comments on issues raised by this newsletter or any other concern or suggestion you wish to raise. Please fill in your name and address so that responses to your comments may be returned to yo

TO: NORM RUTTAN, SUPERINTENDENT

ST. LAWRENCE ISLANDs NATIONAL PARK
2 COUNTY RD. 5, R. R. 3
MALLORYTOWN, ON, KOE 1RO

PH: (613) 923-5261 FAX: (613) 923-1021
E-MAIL: ont-sli@pch.gc.ca
VISIT OUR WEBSITE: http://parkscanada.pch.gc.ca/sli

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