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Ontario Nature calls on provincial government to protect Lake Simcoe Watershed

Monday, June 9th 2008 5:01:48pm

Natural heritage designation seen as key to stopping large scale developments

(Toronto, Ontario, June 9, 2008)  This past weekend, members of Ontario Nature passed a resolution at their Annual General Meeting calling for increased protection for the Lake Simcoe Watershed.

The resolution contains 5 parts, all of which focus on pressuring the Ontario government to end development in the area and to re-invest resources in research and rehabilitation.

The resolution:

* Urges the Government of Ontario to increase its commitment to restoration and rehabilitation of the Lake Simcoe Watershed so that water quality and quantity will return to levels compatible with cold water fish reproduction and control of algae and weeds;
    
* Urgently recommend the creation of natural heritage and agricultural systems to protect green space and restrict new development to existing and approved settlement;
    
* That government ensure that large scale resort developments such as Big Bay Point are consistent with the Lake Simcoe Protection Act;
    
* Call for consultations with First Nations to identify and protect First Nations heritage sites;
    
* Suggest that the government enshrine a governance structure as recommended by the Lake Simcoe Environmental Management Strategy (LSEMS) Working group and by the LSEMS Steering Committee.

"Our members have identified the Lake Simcoe watershed as a severely threatened and under-protected area that requires immediate government protection," said Caroline Schultz, Executive Director of Ontario Nature. "We look forward to seeing the resolution act as the mechanism that spurs the Ontario government to make the right decisions to ensure the survival of one of Ontario's unique natural wonders and the health of the human and wildlife populations that depend on it.

Lake Simcoe is one of the largest lakes in the province and the Watershed includes about 3,303 square kilometres, sweeping north from the Oak Ridges Moraine through parts of York and Durham Regions, the City of the Kawartha Lakes and Simcoe County. The lake has a surface area of 722 square kilometres, occupying about 20 percent of the total area and contains approximately 35 tributary rivers within its boundaries.

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For more information, contact:

Victoria Foote, Director of Communications, Ontario Nature, 416-444-8419, ext.238

Ontario Nature is a not-for profit that works to protect and restore natural habitats through research, education and conservation. It connects thousands of individuals and communities with nature through various conservation groups across the province (charitable registration # 10737 8952 RR0001). For more information, visit www.ontarionature.org.