Bog walk trail officially opens

After continuous development for several years, the first phase of the Cranberry Peatlands Interpretive Trail, located about 12 km west of Fort Frances, officially was opened to the public by the Rainy River Valley Field Naturalists on Thursday evening.
“It’s a great educational opportunity for students to come here and learn,” enthused bog trail committee member Ahlan Johanson. “And it’s not too far from Fort Frances.”
Ilka Milne, a fellow committee member, added the trail will give the public a chance to understand the value of wetlands and nature, as well as provide an opportunity to attract tourists to the area.
She noted work on the interpretive trail began in 2002 when RRVFN member Bill Morgenstern fell in love with the bog.
“But there was a lot of work to do,” she added.
The group had to develop a design for the trail, pamphlet, and signage, as well as construct a parking lot, install a beaver baffler system, assemble a boardwalk, and obtain funding for the project.
“And before this site looked like anything, there was garbage that needed to be cleared,” said Milne, noting the local “Get Outdoors” youth club assisted with the task.
The group also helped install the beaver baffler system.
“We found the boardwalk underwater and wanted to be sure we could access it,” she explained about why the drainage system needed to be installed.
“If you ever have the chance to see a child put this in, please do,” Milne told the group of nature enthusiasts gathered for the opening ceremony. “It’s really neat.”
Besides the “Get Outdoors” club, Milne also thanked the Township of Alberton, RRVFN members, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, the Rainy Lake Conservancy, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, and the Rainy River Future Development Corp. for their contributions to the bog walk project.
Brian Kahler, a volunteer with the Ontario Trillium Foundation, congratulated the organizations on the goals they’ve achieved since receiving their $48,900 grant from the Foundation two years ago.
“You’ve taken this area and turned it into something the people of the district can appreciate and enjoy,” he remarked, adding they also have managed to ensure preservation of natural heritage and a clean water supply.
Milne said she wanted to give a special mention to the memorial fund started in memory of Victor Raiche.
“It’s wonderful to have the no-strings-attached funds, and the faith we will hold to our mission and do the right thing with the money,” she enthused before introducing Raiche’s granddaughter, Wanda Botsford, who also was representing local MP Ken Boshcoff at the opening.
“My grandpa had an infectious love of nature, so this seemed like a good place to donate the money,” Botsford said. “The results are here, all you have to do is look around.”
To date, there are seven interpretive stations along the trail and a pamphlet to identify various plant and wildlife species along the self-guided tour.
Small Cranberry, Tamarack, Wild Calla Lily, Manitoba Maple, Bog Laurel, and Labrador Tea are just a few of the many species that can be seen. And at certain times, a peregrine falcon, a bald eagle, or a pair of Canada geese can be spotted.
The pamphlet also explains the wetland chosen for the interpretive trail is both historically and ecologically significant, with pools and trenches—still visible from the air—marking the site of a peat mining operation by Arctic Peat Moss Corp. in the 1940s.
The ground level of the site highlights several wetland types—swamp, fen, bog, and marsh.
“We’re hoping people will get just as excited about Phase Two of the project,” said Milne. “It’s still up in the air, but we’ve thought about getting a bog walk loop.
“Around the corner [from where the trail ends thus far]—that’s real bog,” she added.