The Conservation Award was first announced at the 1987 Annual General meeting by then President, John Black. After a few years it was discontinued, only to be brought back for the 2008 annual meeting.
Our award recipient for 2022, Doug Lonsdale, joined Saugeen Field Naturalist in March 1990. He has served for many years in many capacities and initiated or worked on numerous projects. Doug is one of those people who accomplishes great things, one step at a time, just working away and never asking for glory. He has the vision to see possibilities, and the ability to recruit and involve others to accomplish an impressive list of projects.
Doug became a member of the Board in 1992 (Interestingly, the new Treasurer that year was Linda Manchester, and the Past President was Jerry Asling).
It wasn’t long until Doug got busy! He looked after getting the club brochure updated and printed. And by 1993 he was chair of the Publicity Committee and was responsible for the creation and coordination of a new display for use at public events, especially providing beautiful photographs for the display! Doug worked many of these events, such as Christmas in the Country and Saugeen Bluffs SVCA Maple Fest.
In 1995 Doug began attending the provincial organization’s regional meetings and was soon the official regional rep to Federation of Ontario Field Naturalists on behalf of Saugeen Field Naturalists, bringing regular reports from the provincial organization to this club. He was on the local committee to develop policies for Scientific or Natural Interest and Environmental Sensitive Areas.
As liaison with FON Doug picked up many extra duties: coordinating the sponsorship of a young person to attend the FON summer camp, later Camp
Kawartha, making arrangements when it was this club’s turn to host the regional meeting, coordinating club purchase of ON cards and occasionally calendars, coordinating with ON on issues to do with the cabin at Kinghurst Nature Reserve, At the AGM in 1999 Doug became President of this organization, a position he held for two years.
In 1999 Ontario Federation of Naturalists received the 600-acre Kinghurst Forest tract from the estate of Howard Krug. Our club was asked if we were interested in becoming the local stewards of this property, and with Doug Lonsdale as chair of the new Stewardship Committee we readily agreed. In the 23 years that followed Doug was a key worker in the many projects that have happened on this property. He led the charge and recruited many assistants along the way. And often Doug toiled alone to initiate or complete the work.
The work over many years included ongoing, annual events and work parties as well as special projects, such as:
- site cleanup,
- development of a long-term management plan,
- identifying and marking property boundaries,
- trail marking, clearing and maintenance;
- setting up a monitoring schedule,
- arranging work parties with the Junior Rangers,
- addressing invasive species such as burdock and phragmites,
- leading hikes for the Working for Wilderness group,
- arranging signage for the Kinghurst trails, and later, replacement signs
- removal of the original farm buildings and restoration of the site
- working with others to carry out a thinning program in the pine plantation,
- assisted with planting milkweed for the Monarch Waystation,
- arranging portable toilets in summer season,
- looking after establishing and maintaining a parking lot,
- having a culvert installed where water threatens the trail,
- working with a local teacher to bring the Genesis group, high school students interested in nature, to the Kinghurst site for work and learning,
- recruiting neighbouring property owners to take an interest in stewardship or monitoring at Kinghurst,
- removal and cleanup of the site of the maple syrup camp that had fallen into a dangerous state,
It’s fair to say that some of the preceding items engendered a huge amount of work, while others were less onerous.
Doug chaired the Environment Committee and later worked on the by-law committee to review and update the club constitution. Over time Doug monitored the nuclear waste storage issues at Bruce Power and also represented the club at a project called Greenway – to connect areas of natural forest with green corridors for wildlife. He was a stakeholder representative at County of Bruce project to do GPS mapping of the county.
In 2000-2001 Doug helped a member, Mac Campbell, in his efforts to protect a sensitive parcel of land near Port Elgin from development. He also led the work to support a Hanover area landowner who wanted to revert his property to its natural state after previous owners had dammed a stream to make a pond.
In 2018 Doug led the effort to create a statement for Saugeen Nature to recognize the role of First Nations peoples in the stewardship of the land we now enjoy. Doug consulted with a former chief of the Saugeen Ojibway people to draft a statement that was later accepted by the Board.
When Ontario Nature acquired the Murray Tract property near Kinghurst, Doug undertook many of the same jobs as with the Kinghurst property: i.e. walking the property to identify potential trails and concerns, coordinating the removal of invasive Scotch Pines and subsequent cleanup, and generally being the lead person for this club to Ontario Nature for this new nature reserve property.
As mentioned at the outset, Doug has spent many years diligently working for nature and this club. Without his dedication, it is likely that neither the Kinghurst Nature Reserve or Saugeen Nature would be what they are today.
The members of this club, and the Board owe a huge debt of gratitude to Doug for his work, his dedication, and his longtime service to nature and conservation. Thank You Doug, from the bottom of our hearts!
Nominated by Gertie Blake, with the full support of the SN Board – 2022