The Algoma chapter is both the most northern and the most western of the OWA’s sections. Extending north from the beautiful North Channel of Lake Huron in the south to the rugged mountainous terrain of Lake Superior’s shore in the west this region covers a wide variety of topography, scenery and forest types. At the region’s southern extremity, St. Josephs Island is forested with maple forests and the island is the centre of one of Ontario’s most important maple syrup producing areas. Gilbertson Enterprises and Thompsons Maple Products, two of the island’s biggest syrup producers each tap over 30, 000 trees.
At the Algoma chapter’s northern boundary, near Wawa, the forest is boreal with species like spruce, jack pine, balsam fir, poplar and white birch covering the landscape. You can understand then that there is a wide range of forest ecosystem types across this tremendously diverse landscape.
In total, Algoma is home to over 115,000 people and Sault Ste. Marie, with a population of 75,000, is the largest community in the region. Towns to the east include Bruce Mines, Thessalon, Iron Bridge and Blind River while to the west; Wawa is the nearest town to the Sault.
This area has a rich native history and the St. Mary’s rapids in Sault Ste. Marie have been a gathering place for aboriginal people for 1000’s of years. Though a British military presence began here in the late 1700s, it wasn’t until the middle of the nineteenth century that a significant amount of settlement, logging and agriculture began. Today agriculture and forestry are still important in Algoma; its low population density of only 2.4 per km2 means that a great deal of the area is rural and a patchwork of farms and forests dot the countryside.
The Algoma Chapter of the OWA has been active since the 1990’s and has approximately 50 members who actively participate in workshops, field tours and community events. Each spring and fall, trips to member’s woodlots take place to see how they are managing their properties. In addition, workshops are held and presentations made to keep members up to date on topics of interest to woodlot owners. Recent workshop topics have included; invasive species, woody biomass production, log grading, improving timber quality on your property and managing wildlife in your woodlot.
The chapter works with other regional organizations that share our interest in good stewardship of the environment. We have developed partnerships with the Canadian Institute of Forestry, The Invasive Species Research Institute, Algoma’s Regional Agriculture Innovation Network and Sault College amongst other groups to help achieve our objective of sound woodlot management.