Local nature-lovers are in for a treat as just over 400 feet of new cedar boardwalk has been installed to improve the Cranberry Peatlands’ Interpretive Trail in Alberton.
“It’s more accessible, drier,” Ahlan Johanson, a member of the Rainy River Valley Field Naturalists, said about having the new sections of the bog walk built.
“We’ve had problems for a few years with water laying on the trail,” he noted.
“It’s sometimes only an inch, but sometimes it could be three or four inches in some parts.”
With funding from the Ministry of Natural Resources, Johanson said the club was able to install 131.5 feet of walkway along the wettest sections back in May, followed by 153 feet of cedar walkway installed on July 2 and 3.
Meanwhile, working through the Rainy River Future Development Corp., the club was able to secure even more funding, this time from FedNor, which went towards another 118.5 of cedar walkway, which was installed this past Friday.
Johanson said the RRVFN is grateful to the MNR for its support in developing the trail, including assistance from local ministry staff.
This included Tony Elders, who was responsible for processing the Community Fisheries and Wildlife Involvement Program (CFWIP) application, which would provide the $4,000 in funding for 271.5 feet of new boardwalk, Johanson noted.
The MNR also helped organize the labour needed to build the boardwalk, including the district’s stewardship co-ordinator, Colin Langford, arranging for the participation of four Ontario Stewardship Rangers (summer students aged 17 under the supervision of Susanne Brielmann) to help out during the July dates.
As well, Fire Management Supervisor Harrold Boven provided Jamie Woolsey’s crew to further assist with the project.
“They were a great help, the fire crew, under Jamie Woolsey,” Johanson said, adding the efforts of the MNR are greatly appreciated by RRVFN members.
With the boardwalks now installed, Johanson said there are plans to hopefully add an observation platform at the end of the trail.
Located at the end of Whitmore Road in Alberton, the Cranberry Peatlands’ Interpretive Trail officially opened in July, 2006 by the RRVFN to educate people about wetlands ecology, and for the
enjoyment of the public.
With the RRVFN’s goal to promote appreciation, conservation, and the wise use of the natural environment in the Rainy River valley, the interpretive trail is important and an educational tool, Johanson said.
As part of this education, pamphlets available at the beginning of the trail feature numbers and information on different flowers and plants that correspond with numbers on posts along the boardwalk.
“There’s so many different plants there along the trail, and also even little trees.” Johanson said, citing the many sights along the trail.
“There’s one tree along there called a Dwarf Birch, which I didn’t even realize until working on this project that there was a Dwarf Birch.
“And then there’s little Saskatoon berries, you’ll see each little tree along there, there’s even blueberries and cranberries further out on the left side of the trail along the end,” he continued.
“There’s just a myriad of different flowers and things—bog rosemary, bog laurel, marsh calla, just all kinds of different flowers, especially in May, June, and into July,” Johanson enthused.
He thinks the trail is a very good thing for the public.
“In the evening, they can go out there for a walk, and they can learn more about nature, about the plants and animals,” Johanson remarked.
“You see animals out there, too—beavers, muskrats. We saw a wolf out there one day.”
Johanson added there’s a real variety of birds, as well.
“I’ve seen three different types of warblers out there this spring,” he noted. “Red-winged blackbirds are nesting out there, Canada geese nest in that wetlands.
“I’ve seen sandhill cranes out there, I’ve seen pelicans landing out there, so it’s a real educational thing for the public,” he stressed.
Contributions and donations towards improvements to the trail always are welcome, Johanson added, including a possible second pamphlet available for visitors about the birds found in the area.
“We’re [the RRVFN] always looking for new members,” he remarked. “We’d like to have more.”