Profile Dany Gagné
passionate about nature and a key trail building team member
Dany Gagné is a passionate man, a creative person who loves the environment, culture, learning, and digging deep, literally and figuratively.
He has worked for the Massawippi Conservation Trust since 2018. Previously, he worked with fellow trail builders, Matthew and Mahicans, on another project. He was happy when he was called to join them on the shores of Lake Massawippi. His specialty is building bridges and wood work. He enjoys working in the forest, in the middle of nature. When asked, he said, “ …building the trails makes me happy. It responds to my values.’ He appreciates that the Massawippi Conservation Trust gives the team the time to do a good job. He jokingly said, “There is no competition in the region, we are the best! We can take the necessary time and have the right equipment to make the best trails.” He describes it as a job for people with a passion, it can be a slow job but exciting when the vision for the trail comes to fruition. This is his 7th season working in the milieu.
He appreciates the biodiversity, seeing animals while he works, from foxes to owls and woodpeckers. He has only seen moose tracks and bear scat but has never encountered them in person. He appreciates the fact that the large tracts of land allow these animals to migrate. Working on the conserved land, building trails, he and the team are sensitive to the fragility of the ecosystem.
“If we’re going to give people access to the land, we have to design the trails so that people stay on the trail and we do as little damage to the land as possible. The more people that pass through, the more damage there can be. We need to create trails that keep people in one place.” Drainage and erosion are major considerations, as is avoiding sensitive ecological areas.
Trail building involves many skills such as carpentry, handling light machinery, physical strength and creativity to imagine and react to the environment. It also helps to have knowledge of plants and ecosystems, especially when building on our conserved property. The Trust seeks trail builders who will be sensitive to flora and fauna, ensuring that any potential damage to the protected environment is limited. The fact that most of the work is done by hand allows the team to “go gently on the land.”
Building bridges and trails is not his only talent. Dany loves music and culture. In fact, he was our DJ at Ethan’s Beach opening last summer. He brought his equipment and played a wide variety of early jazz and blues. He has participated in many cultural events over the years. He has also worked in construction and in the agricultural sector. He is a natural communicator and enjoys working with the community, bringing together like-minded people.
Dany is an important member of the team and we are happy to have him on board to build bridges and more!

The Canadian Wildlife Federation poster is free to download or to order as a paper copy.

We hear a lot about bees these days, how they are struggling to survive and how important they are to our food sources. Fortunately they are not the only pollinators. June 20-26th was Pollinator Week which brought awareness to the plight and positive actions being taken on behalf of these very important insects and winged creatures.
Pollinators are yes bees but also beetles, birds, bats, butterflies, flies, moths and even some small mammals.
Some facts from the David Suzuki website:

  • Insects makes up 2/3 of all life on earth
  • Insects are a key food source for birds and fish and play a vital role in forests and fields as decomposers.
  • Over three-quarters of wild flowering plants and one-third of the food we eat depend on insect pollination. Think about it that is one out of every three bites of food we eat!
  • More than 800 species of wild bees live in Canada.
  • If we want to talk dollars and cents, pollinators add 233 billion dollars to the global economy, and honey bees alone are responsible for between 395 million dollars in agricultural productivity in Ontario. (

The problem stems from the loss of meadow & wildflower habitat, pollution and the use of chemicals.

Last month we spoke about connectivity and the importance of conserving connected tracts of land to help wildlife migrate and move between various habitats. Think about this for insects and pollinators, the importance of gardens as a stepping stone to the bigger open pastures and fields. Up to 80% of Canadians live in urban centres. Gardens are havens. The open fields under electric towers, the un-mowed ditches on the sides of roads and railroads also create a much needed habitat. By planting native species we can learn about nature and help increase biodiversity around our homes. Even potted plants on balconies that reflect the ecosystems around them contribute. These small acts of conservation can have a huge ripple effect.
To learn more about how NCC supports Small Acts of Conservation, such as planting native plants, click here.Everyone can play a role by planting native species, reducing or better yet eliminating the use of chemical fertilizers, leaving lawns uncut in May when dandelions welcome the first Spring insects. (Read more about this initiative of the Nature Conservancy of Canada). Resisting the urge to clean out the dead leaves and old branches in order to create nesting spaces in the fall helps to create an over the winter habitat for native insects, pollinators and other backyard wildlife. Think of the forest floor which comes alive in the Spring as the wildlife wakes up from hibernation. Those leaves on the ground had a purpose.
What else can we do to help besides planting native species and creating spaces for nesting and hibernation?

  • Turn your lawn into a garden
  • Leave more lawn un-mowed
  • Think about water for the insects. A bird bath or pond may be too deep. A saucer or lid filled with a few stones (connectivity and to help them have a landing place) with fresh water is a good idea.
  • Support your local conservation organisations
  • Speak to your municipal government about changing the dates they mow the ditches, or leaving more municipal land untended or better yet creating more community garden spaces.

The Massawippi Conservation Trust has 1200 acres under conservation. Not all of it is forest, there are some fields and streams with wetlands that play host to so many insects and wild things. If you go for a slow walk along the trails in Scowen Park you will see in the uncut fields, insects moving from flower to flower. We have seen at the park and on the conserved lands, Daisies, Buttercups, Herb-Robert, Two leaved Toothwort, Northern Starflowers, Clover, Orange Hawkweed (also known as Devil’s Paintbrush!)  to name a few! Precious biodiversity!