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Our History: Sixty Years in Conservation

The Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority has been enhancing your land, water and future since 1951. Thanks to our generous federal, provincial, municipal and community partners, we build on a tradition of success and provide the leadership needed to protect what is natural and restore what has degraded in our watershed. Since our inception, we have expanded seven times in order to address watershed management issues that effect everyone who works, lives, and plays in the Lake Simcoe watershed.

1950s: The Upper Holland Valley Conservation Authority

The Government of Ontario set up the Department of Planning and Development with a branch to co-ordinate conservation work throughout the southern part of the province in 1944. Two years later, the Conservation Authorities Act was passed, enabling the municipalities in a watershed to set up an Authority with powers to regulate renewable natural resources.

1951: The Upper Holland Valley Conservation Authority (UHVCA) is formed by the municipalities of East Gwillimbury, King, Aurora, Newmarket and Whitchurch.
1954: The devastating rains of Hurricane Hazel sweep through the province. Streets are washed out, buildings collapse, and lives are lost. Today, the LSRCA issues flood alerts, warnings and bulletins to the Lake Simcoe watershed media and school boards.
1957: The Conservation Authority begins to subsidize tree planting and farm pond construction on private lands.
1958: Members express concerns about development in the Newmarket area and its potential impact on the ground water supply.
1959: The UHVCA requests that the Ontario government introduce legislation to control tree cutting on private and public lands.
1959: The Conservation Authority purchases its first parcel of land. The 20-acre Anchor Park is located in Holland Landing.

1960s: The Holland Valley Conservation Authority

The UHVCA's boundaries expand to include the entire Holland River and Schomberg River subwatersheds. With the addition of Bradford, West Gwillimbury, and Tecumseth to the Conservation Authority, the organization's name is changed to the Holland Valley Conservation Authority (HVCA).
The HVCA secured close to 900 acres of environmentally significant lands in the 1960's, including Thorton Bales, Whitchurch, Scanlon Creek , Wesley Brooks, Rogers Reservoir, and Mabel Davis.

1960: Five thousand copies of "Dennis the Menace and Dirt" are distributed to schools across the watershed. The comic book emphasizes our dependance on soil productivity and the importance of soil conservation.
1961 & 1966: In its 1961 Conservation Report on Land and Forest, and its 1966 Report on Water, the HVCA identifies the need to improve management of light soils of the Oak Ridges Moraine, promote private reforestation efforts, pass regulations prohibiting building and dumping of fill in flood plain lands, and undertake a program for the control of streambank erosion.
1967: The Conservation Authority establishes an emergency flood fund.
1967: Centennial tree planting efforts sweep across the watershed and include reforestation efforts at Scanlon Creek Conservation Area. The Conservation Authority will plant close to three million trees across the watershed by 2001.

1970s: The South Lake Simcoe Conservation Authority

The municipalities of Scott and Georgina join the in 1970, and the name becomes the South Lake Simcoe Conservation Authority (SLSCA) in the following year. The SLSCA expands to include the Town of Innisfil in 1974, and continues to build a watershed-wide natural heritage throughout the decade network by securing Willow Beach, Bailey Property Ecological Park, Franklin Beach Conservation Authority, Queen St. Property, Pottageville Site, and Holmes Point.

1973: The South Lake Simcoe Conservation Report recommends action be taken to establish controls and guidelines, regard hazard lands and environmentally sensitive areas, continue to review subdivision plans, provide landowners with assistance for streambank improvements, establish a flood warning system, protect water recharge areas, and retain major portions of the Oak Ridges Moraine as open space.
1978: Scanlon Creek Conservation Area's Professor E.A. Smith Natural Resources Educational Centre opens its doors. More than 4,000 school children participate in dynamic hands-on environmental education programs each year. Another 2,500 weekend daytrippers also travel to Scanlon Creek annually, to participate in workshops and classes that make learning a "natural experience".
1976: The SLSCA holds its first annual maple syrup festival at Sheppard's Bush Conservation Area in Aurora. Today, thousands of people travel to Aurora each spring to celebrate a great Canadian tradition, and the arrival of Spring at Maplefest.

1980s: The Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority

The Lake Simcoe Environmental Management Strategy (LSEMS) is developed, in co-operation with the Ministries of Natural Resources, the Environment, and Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. The Conservation Authority added a number of properties to its natural heritage network, including Tyrwhitt, Zephyr Wetlands, Beaverton Dam, Pefferlaw Dam, Keswick North Watercourse, Baldwin Property, Pangman Springs Conservation Area, Herrema Site and Luck Property.

1980: The SLSCA begins work on identifying environmentally significant areas in the watershed.
1981: The Ministry of the Environment initiates a new study to identify and measure sources of phosphorus entering Lake Simcoe and recommends actions needed to reduce these inputs.
1985: LSEMS identifies phosphorus inputs from both urban and rural sources as the leading cause of the decline of Lake Simcoe's water quality and coldwater fishery.
1986: LSEMS seeks provincial funding for programs and services aimed at reducing the amount of phosphorus entering water courses from both urban and rural sources.
1986: The Conservation Authority is renamed the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA) to better reflect is area of service.

1990s: The Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority

The LSRCA wrapped up the millennium by basking in the international spotlight and solidifying partnerships that will help save Lake Simcoe. Lands acquired and expanded through the decade include the Beaver River Wetlands; the Willow Beach, Pangman Springs, Mabel Davis Conservation Areas; the Baldwin and Tyrwhitt properties; and the Zephyr Wetlands.

1990: Phase I of the LSEMS is launched. The Landowner Environmental Assistance Program (LEAP) provides the technical and financial support landowners need to complete projects which improve local water quality. As a result, 16.5 tonnes of phosphorus are diverted from Lake Simcoe by the year 2000. LEAP also provides technical and financial support for private landowners to naturalize streambanks, reduce cropland erosion, install/upgrade manure storage facilities, restrict livestock access to water courses, reforest priority lands, and control streambank erosion.
1992: The Conservation Authority's Save Our Simcoe campaign sweeps across the watershed. Local youth participate in the Yellow Fish Road program to promote the responsible disposal of household hazardous waters; 1,500 people hear how they can help save Lake Simcoe; and An Action Guide To Improving the Waters of Lake Simcoe is published.
1996: The LSEMS Team expands to include the Regional Municipalities of York and Durham and the County of Simcoe.
1997: The LSRCA establishes a new collaborative partnership with the federal Department of Fisheries And Oceans to protect and enhance fish habitats.
1999: The Conservation Authority forms "A Natural Partnership" with the Regional Municipality of York to protect what is natural and restore what has degraded in York Region. LSRCA staff share watershed management strategies with Russian and Chinese Scientists.

2000s: The Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority

A new decade, a new millennium and plenty of possibilities!

2000: The Conservation Authority expands its area of jurisdiction to include 6,700 acres in the Township of Brock. The LSRCA becomes one of nine founding members of the "Conservation Authorities Moraine Coalition". The Ministry of Environment invites the LSRCA to become one of seven Conservation Authorities to participate in a province-wide ground water monitoring network.The LSRCA solidifies its partnerships with the York Catholic and York Region District School Boards with a new 10-year agreement.
2001: The LSRCA's CAO/Secretary-Treasurer, Gayle Wood, and Environmental Services Manager, Mike Walters, receive an international award for work on the Yuqiao Reservoir Pollution Control Project in China. Gayle Wood is also presented with an "In Celebration of Women Award" for her work in conservation. Simcoe County Board of Education signs a one-year agreement to send 1,500 children to Scanlon Creek Nature Centre through to June 2002. As a member of "Lake Net", the Conservation Authority joins a global network of people and organizations promoting the conservation and sustainable management of lakes. The LSRCA looks forward to signing a "level 2" agreement with the Department of Fisheries And Oceans. LSRCA Member Municipalities increase their financial investment in efforts to restore Lake Simcoe by 54 per cent! The Lake Simcoe Environmental Management Strategy enters its third phase, and attracts new partners in conservation. A new Strategic Plan and Performance Measures are developed to ensure programs and services are in place that will continue to protect Lake Simcoe and its watershed.