Trail Swag Reports: TEDxAlgonquinPark 2012

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TED Talks are brilliant 18 minute sessions where the speaker delivers fascinating stories and world-changing ideas. Their tag-line "Ideas worth spreading" certainly captures the point and I highly recommend perusing through their long line of talks as there are topics for everyone.

TEDx events are independently organized gatherings that are bias-free and lack any commercial, religious or political agenda. This year Algonquin Park was the backdrop for the sold out event TEDxAlgonquinPark and eight fascinating speakers walked us though new and inspiring subjects. The videos will be uploaded by TEDxAlgonquinPark of the speakers soon for everyone to enjoy. The theme of this year's event was "InvesTED", focusing on Recreation, Forestry and Conservation.

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The first speaker was by nature lover Terri LeRoux, who gave the frightening news that the newest edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary has removed numerous nature-related words including "Beaver". Further signs of our changing characteristics were the ever-increasing amount of hours that kids spend in front of TVs and playing video games and not spending quality time outdoors. To paraphrase her (and one of my favourite quotes of the day) is that she would love to have her kids injure themselves falling out of a tree vs. receiving a repetitive stress injury playing video games.

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The second speaker was Chief Kirby Whiteduck who is serving his tenth consecutive year as Chief of the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation. 18 minutes probably wasn't long enough to summarize the entire history of the Algonquins and how the park came to be, but he did a fantastic job.

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Jamie McRae was born and raised in Whitney (just outside of Algonquin's East Gate) and is a fifth generation forester. He gave us a peek into how forestry is presently managed in Algonquin and a brief history of logging in the Park. Algonquin has quite a rich history surrounding logging and Jamie spoke to how the forest is being managed well into the future.

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Vowing not to create just another book on Tom Thompson, artist Gene Canning has set out to recreate Tom's famous paintings. Canoeing across Algonquin, Gene has been on the hunt for the same locations that inspired Tom and is creating a 'modern' version of the original paintings set in the same locations.

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Kathryn Lindsay's 28 years as a wildlife ecologist with Environment Canada has helped her with her latest work, The Riverwatch Project. This long term project monitors the streams, water (and its inhabitants) that flows out of Algonquin into various waterways such as the Bonnechere watershed.

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Margaret Penner gave us a bird's eye view of how the foliage in Algonquin Park is observed using the latest technology.  LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) is measuring the distance to a target using light (or as Megan and Courtney eagerly introduced it as "shooting lasers from aeroplanes") . Algonquin's contours have been mapped via LiDAR which has led to the most sophisticated amount of data collected on things such as the hight of the forest and forest floor, which in turn can be used for many other applications.

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Adam Ruzzo not only writes music about the wild, but keeps abreast on environmental issues and recorded video from his trek through Algonquin's Western Uplands to go along with the beautiful music he played during his session. Two of his friends accompanied him on classical guitar and provided a journey that included the sound of wind and raindrops. 

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Canadian Olympian Adam van Koeverden was very humble when describing how hard work really does benefit you in the long run. Algonquin Park has been Adam's backdrop for training for the Olympics, but also became a lot of work when building a small cottage and embracing the land and its history.

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Kudos to Megan SummersCourtney Sinclair, all of the volunteers and all of the partners who helped make this event happen.

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