From Loon Lake Road – Enjoying the Fall, watch for wildlife

Barbara Hendricks' monthly column of community news and events in Loon Lake.

September’s Labour Day weekend was celebrated under the light of a nearly full moon and with mostly full houses. Residents and guests really got into party mode for the last long holiday weekend of the summer and the sounds of parties and happy groups around camp fires resounded up and down the lake on Saturday night.

Several of the resorts sponsored fishing derbies that weekend and there was a lot of fishing happening – also people enjoying eating the fish they caught.

September is one of those months when eating meals outdoors is still possible and made all the more enjoyable by the realization that soon it will be uncomfortable to do so. The warming sun in the morning makes breakfast outdoors seem like a vacation in the Mediterranean.

The first frost of the season in my area was on the morning of Sept. 11 – giving over 110 frost free days this year. Those gardeners at the east end of the lake had suffered a frost about a week earlier.

 

The Fall migration from Loon Lake has begun. Summer residents are once again going through the annual chores of closing up their homes, taking up their boats and docks and packing up to move to their winter quarters. Permanent residents will continue to enjoy the quiet and boating for at least another month.

The smell of wood burning stoves and the sounds of chickadees and nuthatches back for the Winter have replaced the territorial songs of the robins and thrushes. The sky has been filled with the calls of cranes as they fly in formation southward. This happens every year and still I find it thrilling to listen to and watch.

The squirrels are busy with no time for parties. The budworm and mountain pine beetle have pretty well disappeared from the valley. After many years of attack by the spruce budworm the fir trees that have survived have recovered from the damage and produced cones. Now the squirrels are busy falling the cones, which make some pretty alarming noises when they hit a tin roof. The squirrels appear to run many miles a day as they take one cone at a time and put it in their storage piles.

 

Another wild resident species at Loon Lake has been making their mark lately as well. Bears have returned from the higher hills and are feasting on berries along the roadside.

One of the remarkable(?) aspects of bears is that they will leave the roadside and the cover of bushes and go to the middle of the road to do what must be done after eating a bush load of berries. These landmark piles have confused some non-locals who have been wondering what the piles were along the road.

Seems bears like to do just the opposite of what humans do when they have an urgent call of nature while on the road. Can this be termed a “middle of the road” approach?

Early in September a black bear came along and took a nap below my house in the long grass. I have never watched a bear nap before and I can report that it is a very boring experience. The bear did lift its head occasionally and turned around several times during the 45 minutes it was napping. I don’t think it will be up there with whale watching as a tourist experience.

 

This coming month the deer will be gathering in the hay fields along the Bonaparte in large numbers. A friend sent me this joke a while ago and I want to pass it on as it seems quite appropriate to keep in mind while driving these days.

The joke reads: “I live in a semi-rural area. We recently had a new neighbour call the local township administrative office to request the removal of the Deer Crossing sign on our road. The reason: “Too many deer are being hit by cars out here! I don’t think this is a good place for them to be crossing anymore.”

Road smarts aren’t a strong point with wildlife – it is the driver who should be aware that around the next corner there could be a deer on the road.

 

Last summer the TNRD, through a grant from the UBCM, made funds available for the preparation of a fuel treatment prescription plan for the Loon Lake Road Community, and a professional forester was engaged to do the work.

In early December 2011 TNRD Director Sally Watson chaired an information meeting where the plan was outlined and discussed. This was followed up by a letter to most property owners outlining the proposed plan.

At their Jan. 19 meeting, the TNRD unanimously passed a resolution to apply to the UBCM for a further grant of $74,350 to implement the first phase of fuel treatment activities recommended in the prescription for the Loon Lake Road community.

Since then, there has been no public information or factual details made available about the status of this grant application. There have, however, been some false rumours about the work being stopped. On Sept. 11 I contacted both the UBCM and the TNRD for an update.

Jason Tomlin, Emergency Services Supervisor at the TNRD, explained that the January grant application has been on hold pending the receipt of the final report for the prescription work by the consultant. He stated that until the work encompassed in first grant had been finalized, no decision could be taken on the application for the grant for the next stage. This work is just now completed and they will be proceeding with the paperwork for the grant application for the fuel treatment activity. If you would like to know more, you can call Jason Tomlin at the TNRD at 250 377-7188.

 

It’s hunting season again and the Loon Lake Road area continues to be a popular hunting ground with its many forest service roads. My father and his brothers first came hunting here in 1935 and photos from that time indicate game was plentiful with large herds of deer. One old black and white photo in my box of old photographs from the time shows four young men proudly standing beside a sapling frame with four bucks and a bear hanging. Everyone is reminded to respect “No Hunting” signs, fences and private property and take care out in the “bush”.

And a good Thanksgiving weekend to everyone.

Barbara Hendricks

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