Become A Member

Help protect the Muskoka watershed for generations to come.

Become a Corporate Member

We have some amazing programs, but operating a charity is expensive. Our goal is to protect Muskoka watersheds forever, and it’s a concept that everyone can support. Our corporate partners donate money, time and products, and share our message with their team. If you would like to help, contact us and let’s work together


HATSEO (Complete)
ASHMuskoka (Active)
Road Salt Management (Active)


The Hauling Ash to Solve Ecological Osteoporosis (HATSEO) project was the first phase in seeking a greater understanding of the dwindling calcium levels in Muskoka’s lakes and soils. These dropping calcium levels are causing a decline in the number of sugar maples in our forests, yield in maple sap production, and even the crayfish in our lakes. All signs that the health of the watershed is being threatened.

Through applied research, HATSEO explored, created, tested, and refined an optimal way to collect, store and distribute wood ash. In doing so, we were able to confirm the viability of using wood ash to replenish the calcium levels within the local watershed.

Ultimately, this project provided a foundation for the work to come in the ASHMuskoka project and furthered our mission to ensure a healthier ecosystem, now and in the future.


ASHMuskoka (formerly, HATSOFF – Hauling Ash To Save Our Forests’ Future) is the next phase of the highly successful HATSEO project.

With ASHMuskoka, we deeply explore the idea that wood ash can safely be used to restore the well-documented damage to forests and lakes caused by widespread calcium (Ca) decline in Muskoka. Restoration begins by restoring soil and groundwater Ca levels to their pre-acid rain levels.

Independent assessments and HATSEO project results have confirmed the need for such a program, along with the local enthusiasm and supply of wood ash needed for success. We also hope to expand this program beyond Muskoka, with the help of local leaders.

Why is calcium deficiency such an important issue?
Calcium (Ca) is essential for all life. Trees are about 1% Ca, fish, 2-8% Ca, and clams and crayfish over 20% Ca. Unfortunately, acid rain has stripped Ca from our environment, and the growth and health of sugar maples, for example, is now limited by Ca supply, and levels in many Muskoka lakes have fallen by 25 to 40% over the last 4 decades, harming many calcium-rich animals.
Why Wood Ash?
A new Ca source is needed to fix this problem, and residential wood ash can fill this need. As we confirmed in HATSEO, it is rich in Ca; contains other essential minerals; is produced in large quantities by local residents; and is considered a waste. Based on previous surveys, we remain confident that many residents will share their ash to help restore our forests and lakes.

We plan to ensure long-term recycling of wood ash and the ongoing participation of local residents in the program by:

  • Collaborating with the District Municipality of Muskoka staff to establish policy, training, infrastructure, and personnel needs to sustain the program in perpetuity;
  • Providing District staff with tested tools to calculate needed wood ash application rates;
  • Developing ongoing marketing strategies to ensure the flow of wood ash supply from the public;
  • Seeking and training leaders to expand the program beyond Muskoka.

We will also find appropriate ways to work in partnership with the forest management industry and large not-for-profit environmental corporations to develop their support of this new recycling initiative to supplement the blue box and green bin programs.

We wish to acknowledge the generous financial support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) in making this vital project possible.


Road salt negatively impacts the water quality within the watershed. In turn, it also harms the local wildlife, such as fish, birds, turtles, and frogs.

With this in mind, we’re focused on lightening the road salt problem in Muskoka. Our presentations to the Watershed Council, and the District Engineering and Public Works committee, as well as our meetings with the District Chair and Commissioner of Public Works, directly led to the formation of the Muskoka Salt Reduction Committee.

The District budgeted $50,000 in funding and created this working committee to reduce the use of salt in Muskoka and bring the Smart About Salt program to the Muskoka community. We are members of this committee and are working together to reduce the threats of road salt while still protecting your personal safety during difficult winter weather.


Restoration is critical, but prevention is equally (if not more) important for protecting Muskoka, tackling threats before they become overwhelming, or impossible to reverse.
A few local environmental threats on our radar:
Increasing algal blooms in our lakes and rivers
Increasing algal blooms in our lakes and rivers
The ongoing impact of development on our watershed
The ongoing impact of development on our watershed
Local flooding in and around the Muskoka region
Local flooding in and around the Muskoka region
Shifting action from restoration to prevention
Shifting action from restoration to prevention


Help protect Muskoka in a more hands-on way!





Friends of the Muskoka Watershed, along with universities, community and government partners, and thousands of volunteers, have collected and spread over 9.2 tonnes of wood ash in Muskoka forests, and the results are in! The application of clean residential wood ash to forests appears to have woken up the trees.

These results suggest that regulated ash application may not only lead to more delicious maple syrup, but can cause trees to absorb more carbon and water, assisting in the fight against climate change, and help with flood mitigation.

With these exciting results, the project expanded and residents were given the opportunity to be a part of it by becoming Citizen Scientists (CS). Data collection began in spring 2022 and is half complete.

Are you interested in getting involved with FOTMW?

We have over 1,000 volunteers who deliver and donate their fireplace and woodstove ash to monthly drives. We have Citizen Scientists collecting data and assisting with research in both our ash program and our road salt program. Others sit on our advisory group and help provide feedback about our planning and programs. Still others attend events and help with organizing, set up and registration. If you like what we do, we would love to find a way to work with you.

Corporate Members

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Citizen Science Form

You have to fill out one form per tree.

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