For years the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) Conservation Lottery supported many provincial conservation efforts and even provided specific support to those OFAH clubs who sold tickets on our behalf. Prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the OFAH was already shifting toward online fundraising through new initiatives like the I Am Conservation Raffle, a 50/50, Catch the Ace, and an online version of our Conservation Lottery.
While moving in this direction made for a more convenient, accessible, and efficient lottery system, it removed the potential for proceeds of club-based selling to go back into community conservation. So, with that in mind, as we’ve fully transitioned to new online lotteries, we’ve also created a new way to support community conservation with no ticket sales required.
Through the Community Conservation Fund (CCF), the OFAH is now supporting the conservation and outreach efforts of clubs with a new, focused process. This new program revives and expands a funding program that recognizes the important volunteer-driven conservation work happening in communities throughout Ontario and is in addition to the traditional support our conservation lotteries provide to provincial-scale initiatives every year.
Through a competitive application process, the CCF supports projects falling within OFAH priorities such as fish, wildlife, and habitat conservation, and making fishing and hunting accessible, including education and youth engagement.
In 2022, 16 applications from 12 organizations were received, and from those, four high-quality projects with multiple benefits were selected to receive funding – including one in northwestern Ontario with the Dryden District Conservation Club. But before we get into some details on that project, here’s a little about the others:
Group: Manitoulin Streams Improvement Association
Project: Manitou River Site M17.1 Stream Restoration
Manitoulin Streams, in partnership with Tehkummah Township and community volunteers, will restore 55 linear meters of Manitou River Site M17.1 using bio-engineering techniques (23 root wads, two boulders clusters, vegetated rock) and riparian restoration (276 native trees and shrubs) to stabilize stream banks (300m3); enhance aquatic habitat; reduce negative climate change impacts, and conduct an Island Wide Garbage Cleanup to improve water quality across the Island watershed.
Group: Youth Pheasant Hunt Huron Perth
Project: Youth Pheasant Hunt Huron Perth 2022
This group provides a free youth pheasant hunt at Hullet Marsh for apprentice hunters aged 12-15. The hunt is open to anyone who is part of the apprentice program and is an opportunity for kids to experience a pheasant hunt with trained dogs and mentors.
Group: Friends of Hullett
Project: Canoe Channel Excavation
The Hullett Provincial Wildlife Area (HPWA) is a 5,400-acre crown land multi-use property that is very pro-hunting located in Southwestern Ontario. Funds will be used to improve canoe and kayak access for waterfowl hunters, birdwatchers, and the general public along dyke systems.
Group: Dryden District Conservation Club (DDCC)
Project: Traditional Archery Education Program
This project will purchase archery equipment to support educational programs, providing training to individuals in both traditional and modern archery techniques. This training will be available to participants of all skill levels from beginner to advanced. The DDCC also intends to place special emphasis on youth and Indigenous participation in these programs.
The funding provided to the DDCC will help purchase adult and youth wooden recurve bows, traditional arrows, and National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) equipment – NASP in Ontario is overseen by the OFAH, and brings archery programming to grades 4-12 as part of phys-ed classes. More information on NASP is available at https://www.ofah.org/nasp/.
This new fund is a great way to get a community conservation project off the ground or put one over the top. If you belong to a club or community group, then think about applying to the OFAH Community Conservation Fund.
More information, including updates on the 2023 application window can be found at: https://www.ofah.org/conservationfunding/.
Our Catch the Ace lottery is ongoing right now, so be sure to participate. It could be a big win for you and for conservation. Get your tickets here.
This is an edited version of what was originally published in Northern Ontario Outdoors Guide in Fall of 2022