FOPI Staff 2017/08/31

As we now find ourselves at the end of August, the season is starting to wind down. The city will finally be coming in soon to remove the mold and debris from the nature centre. This will include removing the tile flooring and the insulation from the walls. When this is done, they will do a final evaluation of the building and decide what improvements need to be made to restore it. Although we lost many school tours during the spring flooding, we did have several summer tours for camps and home school groups. The naturalist programs were successful as usual and were well attended. A good portion of the summer workdays were spent restoring benches, picnic tables, and observation platforms.  The Wednesday workdays will continue into the fall and the educational displays and signs will be out through September. Most of the protected turtle nests are still intact and we are waiting for the hatchlings to emerge. The executive would like to thank the summer students Shannon, Diana, Robert, Emily, and Sarah for their work on the island this season, and wish them all well in their studies. We would also like to thank all of our members and volunteers for their support. It was a difficult year but we still continued to strive towards our goals of protecting the wildlife and educating the public.

FOPI Staff 2017/07/17

Last week Friends of Petrie Island hosted an Eel Release Day in partnership with the Ottawa Riverkeeper, Canadian Wildlife Service, and Ministry of Natural Resources. Four hundred eels were tagged and released into the Ottawa River at Petrie Island. The event brought out many volunteers and spectators, and we would like to thank everyone who stopped by! For more information on why the eels were released, see the following news article: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/researchers-tag-release-eels-ottawa-river-1.4202694

Elsewhere on Petrie Island, many wildflowers, trees, and shrubs have begun to bloom! We are identifying as many as we can with informational signs along the trails and in the wildflower garden. Unfortunately, many of our reference books that we often use for plant identification were damaged or lost in the flood along with many other items. If any of our members have any plant or animal reference books we would welcome any donations! If you have no books and still wish to help, we are still accepting monetary donations and new/renewed memberships.

FOPI Staff 2017/07/06

Our picnic area, trails, and beaches have been mostly cleaned of the flooding debris and damages. The nature centre is still closed, however, and we currently have displays under the white tent for the public to browse. We are looking into getting a trailer to store our equipment and displays while the centre is closed. The power has not yet been restored to our buildings, so we have been using a generator in the meantime.

We had a very successful cleanup with WWF two weeks ago, thank you to everyone who came out. Our Wednesday Workdays are still ongoing, executives and other volunteers meet at 9am every Wednesday, everyone is welcome to drop by and help out. For those who cannot make it on Wednesdays, please feel free to stop by the island any day between 10am and 8pm, we can always use extra help!

Now that July has finally arrived, our FOPI events will be in full swing! The junior and youth naturalist programs started this week and will be running every Tuesday and Thursday. Next week on July 12th  (weather dependent), we are planning an Eel Day with the Ottawa Riverkeepers/Sentinelle Outaouias. They will be releasing ~400 eels into the river and will have informational displays about their activities. We will be updating with further events as they are planned.

Finally, turtle nesting season is coming to a close, but we just wanted to remind everyone to keep their eyes out for turtles on the roads and trails, and let us know of any turtle activity you see!

FOPI Staff 2017/06/01

Just a quick update about Petrie Island. Currently, due to construction on the causeway, there is no vehicle or pedestrian access to the island. We do not have a date for when access will be restored, but we will keep you updated. Once we are able to get onto the island again we are planning a cleanup with volunteers from the community, so stay tuned for details!

FOPI Staff 2017/05/26

Water levels on the Ottawa River have now receded enough that Petrie Island is accessible by foot. The road, however, is still closed due to damages at the culvert. Some of our members and staff were able to walk in to the island this week to assess the damages and start the cleanup. While there was considerable water damage to several buildings, most of the debris has been removed and sorted through, and the floors have been cleaned of all of the mud. The picnic area is in relatively good condition, however there is still debris that needs to be moved and paths that need to be restored. Most of the trails are still under water along with part of the picnic area, but we are hoping they will be accessible soon. In the coming weeks we will be needing volunteers to help with cleanup and trail maintenance so we can start our programming as usual. If you are interested in volunteering please email fopistaff@gmail.com for more information, or stay tuned here for more information on FOPI workdays.

FOPI members on May 23rd 2017, hard at work relocating the bridge to the picnic area

Sarah Kennedy 2017/05/09

Just came back from a little paddle around the island.  The current on the second causeway bridge was very strong- there will be a lot of erosion.

I am sorry to say, there are still at least a dozen very large beavers.  They were all huddled together, in a big furry pile.  I paddled right up to them, and they made adorable little grunting noises before evacuating the one remaining mound that’s still out of the water, near the quonset hut… One of the engineers that works with me is on the South Nations Board, and says that you can hire trappers through the conservation authority.  They’ve gotten at several big trees in that area- tons of new damage!

David Villeneuve 2017/05/08

As bad as the flooding is in 2017, spring flooding has occurred before.  Here is a photo of the Grandmaitre cottage (now the interpretive center for the Friends of Petrie Island), probably taken around 1962.

Grandmaitre cottage ice damage around 1962

FOPI Staff 2017/05/02

Hello FOPI members,

We would like to thank you all for your support in the past year, and looking into 2017 it is time for membership renewals! Attached is the form for membership renewal; note that the email on the form is outdated, please use this email (fopistaff@gmail.com), or mail directly to 1395 Sault Street, Orleans ON, K1E 1G8

We are very excited for the upcoming summer season on Petrie Island. Our summer students are currently planning events and preparing for our opening in the next few weeks. Unfortunately due to extensive flooding the island is inaccessible by car at the moment, but we are hoping to open once the flooding recedes.

On April 21st, grade 7 and 8 students from Ashbury College came to Petrie Island to help with an Earth Day Cleanup. Because the island was flooded, they ended up cleaning the shoreline across from the island, but still had a lot of fun and collected 20 bags of garbage.

In late April a few of our volunteers ventured out into the waters to check the flooding levels on the island. As you can see in the pictures below, the flooding is almost up to the floor of the Nature Centre. Although many structures have shifted, most are still in good condition. We will definitely be needing extra volunteers in the next few weeks to help clean up the damage from the flooding.

More updates to come about the programming in late May once we are open. If you have any questions feel free to use this email address. We hope to see you out on the island very soon!

Ashbury students in grades 7 and 8 helping with a shoreline cleanup across from Petrie Island on April 21st 2017
The plane from the playground next to the Nature Centre took a little trip after the flooding – it really can fly!!
Flooding near the Nature Centre in late April 2017

Paul LeFort 2017/05/02

As of 0800 today, the water at North Service barricade is about a meter closer to the bottom of the slope than it was at the highest water two weeks ago. That means no access is practical, not even to Yves’ marina, and there are no serious options for using our boat or canoe. There is no convenient way to reach the outer areas, as water is now three feet deep in the picnic area, on the access road past the culverts, and in front of the trail shed. Water will also surround the interpretive center, and be up two feet inside the work shed.

Al and I (and Steve, if he feels safe in an inflatable) may paddle out as the weather clears to inspect for lost items. In the longer term, if access to the marina area returns, I might go in and bring the jonboat and engine back to the marina so that some of us can go in and clean the mess in the immediate area of the interpretive center.

The Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board’s last press release is clear, and is even more true today: reservoirs are full, and at this point, the water is expected to rise further, regardless of weather conditions, as the spring freshet has begun.

OTTAWA/GATINEAU, Friday April 28, 2017 –The Ottawa River Regulating Committee cautions that water levels and flows along the main stem of the Ottawa River between Mattawa and the Montreal region will remain high for a sustained period of time. Well above normal April precipitation combined with snowmelt runoff have resulted in recent peak levels not seen in the last 20 years in many locations. Current meteorological forecasts are calling for additional rainfall of 30-60 mm over much of the Ottawa River basin. This additional precipitation is expected to once again increase levels that had been in decline.

Current weather forecasts predict very significant precipitation beginning Sunday, April 30th into Monday, May 1st. These weather conditions could cause rapid increases in levels and flows between Mattawa and the Montreal region. The increase in levels and extent of possible flooding will depend on the amount of precipitation received, the tracking of the storm as well as the amount of snowmelt in the north.

With current forecasts, northern snowmelt runoff combined with precipitation is expected to fill most northern reservoirs in the next few days. As a result, the capacity to retain additional runoff from the headwater areas in the north will be diminished.