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Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority

Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority > Conservation Awards

​2017 Conservation Award Nominations - Celebrating Watershed Heroes

The Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA) is calling for nominations for the 36th annual Conservation Awards ceremony happening on November 2, 2017 at Madsen's Garden & Greenhouses in Newmarket.

logo_conservation_awards.jpgThank you for your interest in our Conservation Awards. Nominations for the 2017 Awards are now closed.


Individuals, groups or businesses doing good work to improve the environment in the Lake Simcoe watershed are eligible for nomination.

Nominees do not have to live within the Lake Simcoe watershed.

Nominations are based on conservation projects completed between August 2016 to July 2017 with the exception of those nominated for the George R. Richardson Conservation Award of Honour.

Anyone can nominate a Watershed Hero. Complete and submit the Award Nomination Form or contact Natasha O'Dell by email at or by phone at 905-895-1281 ext. 298.

The awards program also includes two special categories of distinction:

  • The Ernie Crossland Young Conservationist Award, which is awarded to an individual or a group 30 years of age or younger that are involved in a significant leadership role in a conservation project or with a conservation-based group or organization
  • George R. Richardson Conservation Award of Honour, which is only awarded to an individual who has demonstrated significant leadership accomplishments and is dedicated to the health of the watershed and/or the field of conservation.

What is a watershed?

Click image to enlarge mapA watershed is an area of land where rivers and streams eventually flow into. In the case of the Lake Simcoe watershed, this water drains into Lake Simcoe.

Our watershed spans 3400 square kilometres from the Oak Ridges Moraine in the south, to the Oro Moraine in the north, Barrie at the far west and Kawartha Lakes in the east, so it’s likely there are a lot of community groups, businesses and individuals out there who are have or are in the process of completing amazing projects that have a direct and positive impact on Lake Simcoe and the surrounding watershed,

Not sure if a project is in our watershed or eligible for an award? LSRCA staff will be happy to help with the nomination process.

Examples of Past Award Winners

Past award recipients have completed projects such as school-yard greening, installing large wildflower gardens, urban rain gardens, naturalizing shorelines, large-scale tree plantings and installation of turtle crossing signs to reduce the number of turtles killed by vehicles and so many more.

Beautifying properties through restoration

"Before" picture of eroding stream banks
"After" picture of naturalized shoreline with small bolders lining the once eroding stream bank

Irene Grabowski and her husband lost the woodlot on their beautiful country property due to the Highway 404 expansion. Thanks to their tireless efforts, some of the biodiversity and ecological integrity of the area has been retained and restored.

Irene salvaged and transplanted flowers, shrubs, and tree seedlings from the woodlot into different areas of their property. Her expansive lawn is now a woodland meadow full of trilliums, jack-in-the pulpits, and woodland ferns.

She also moved thousands of tonnes of granite boulders from the highway expansion to the banks of their eroding pond and river. To make the rocks more secure and to naturalize the shoreline, hundreds of willow and dogwood whips were laid between the rocks. A hundred more trees and flowering shrubs were planted on top of the bank to enhance biodiversity, and allow erosion control and nutrient reduction.

Additionally, they created in-stream fish habitat by placing two big rocks in the stagnant Maskinonge river. Water was forced to go around the block creating waves which introduced oxygen to the water, creating a good fish habitat.

The Grabowskis exemplifies good environmental land and water stewardship. Through their actions, they improved the quality of the Maskinonge River and the fish and wildlife that depend on it.

Turning a farm into a forest

Rows and rows of new planted native tree seedlings on land previously used for farming 

Brett Davis owned 2.0 acres of open field area that their neighbour’s horses grazed on. When the horses stopped using the field, the family worked with Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority to add forest cover his property.

In order to start the planting process, he approached his neighbour for access into his open field area. Not only did the neighbour give them access to their property, they also became interested in planting trees on their property as well.

As a result, Brett planted 900 white spruce, 800 white pine, 40 sugar maple and 10 silver maple tree seedlings their property, adding 2.373 acres of new forest to the Lake Simcoe Watershed

Saving turtles through public awareness

Brett Davis stands at the side of an Innisfil road beside a newly installed turtle crossing sign 

Jeff Howard spotted a Blanding’s turtle in the Big Bay Point area. This turtle is on the Species at Risk list as are six other native turtles in Ontario. He wanted to educate people on turtles and to prevent them from being killed by cars while crossing roads.

He decided one of the ways was to post signs in the areas where the turtles crossed the roads. In May of 2009, two years after his application, the teen finally received approval to install turtle crossing signs in Innisfil. The signs were installed just in time, as turtles are on-the-move between May and September. By posting these signs, this Jeff made the public aware of turtle movement in that area and hopefully reduce the number of turtles killed by vehicles.

Designing a low impact community

Paul Bailey at the offices of Mosaik Glenway Homes Ltd. 

Paul Bailey, a partner in Mosaik Glenway Homes Ltd. worked with the Region of York, Town of Newmarket and the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority to design, build and showcase an exceptional environmentally sustainable development. Once completed, the community will be the first of its kind within the Lake Simcoe watershed to feature innovative green infrastructure and water and energy conservation measures to manage urban stormwater.

The community is expected to reduce water consumption by 60 litres per person per day and over 20% of energy use per household was also reduced.

The developer will install low impact development measures such as water gardens and wetlands and piloted underground filtration systems. The team is even undertaking a research project to determine whether using a natural grass seed and mulch is more sustainable than using sod.

Overall the new community incorporated a more sustainable design than any other development of its kind within the watershed. With any new approach there is uncertainty and risk. Paul met this challenge and is demonstrating through this partnership that the building industry can develop more sustainable communities that are mutually beneficial to all.