The Cranberry Peatlands Interpretive Trail’s boardwalk currently is being extended 330 feet, with the work expected to be completed within the next couple of weeks.
Members of the Rainy River Valley Field Naturalist Club have been volunteering their time to lay in the cedar boards onto the trail located in Alberton.
The project was made possible through funding provided by the Toronto Dominion Friends of the Environment and Rainy River Stewardship Council, totalling around $8,000 to purchase the building materials.
After the trail extension is complete, it will total close to 1,000 feet in length.
The Rainy River Valley Naturalist Club is hoping to receive more funding after it finishes the current project to expand the trail even further–by about 1,000 more feet.
The future expansion will take those who walk it straight into the undisturbed area of the bog that runs along the trail.
“We’re going through part of the bog that hasn’t been mined,” noted club member Terry Kawulia. “What we’re trying to do is give the experience of being right out into the bog.”
“We’re kind of closed in along the way coming in,” he explained. “But when we get out there, you’re more out into the open.”
About 50 years ago, a company extracted large slabs of peat out of the bog, leaving it permanently disturbed and damaged.
The trail where the boards are being laid actually is where a small rail track use to run, which is the only place the Ministry of Natural Resources would allow the boardwalk to be built.
“You’re going to be able to see what mining has done and you’ll be able to see an undisturbed area, as well,” Kawulia said.
“It’s kind of special that you are able to see both.”
The great thing about the boardwalk is it gives people access to view an area that would be nearly impossible to explore otherwise, he added.
“Could you imagine yourself getting off the road without this boardwalk and walking out there?” he mused.
“You just wouldn’t do it.
“This way you can go with your grandma, so it’s for people of all ages, kids, people with disabilities–everybody has the chance to come out and have the experience,” he reasoned.
Kawulia said he feels the trail expansion is important for getting people outdoors and reconnecting with nature.
“A lot of people are getting away from nature or get so caught up in their technology,” he remarked.
“We just want to provide people with a place to go to actually feel the wind on their face, be in the sun, and hear the birds.
“Just to give them the opportunity to get out there,” he reiterated.
There are educational signs along the trail identifying different wildlife and nature that is prominent in the Cranberry Peatlands area.
“People have the chance to learn about some of the species out here and understand how they affect us in their everyday lives,” Kawulia enthused.
The Rainy River Valley Naturalist Club, meanwhile, always is looking for more members who have an interest in nature and the environment.
The club has done work to fight against the use of neonicotinoids, which have been proven to negatively impact the bees.
The insecticide has been banned in Europe and currently is being phased out over the next three years in Canada. But Kawulia and other club members fear the damage done in the interim could be detrimental.
“The latest evidence that has come out shows that these neonics, and the glyphosates in them, have a direct impact on the bees gut biota that helps them fight off pathogens,” he stressed.
“So now they’ve discovered that it has a direct effect on the bee, not just indirectly through the killing of the plants that they depend on for their pollen but also through affecting the bacteria in their gut.”
The club hosts nature walks, does bird-watching, and focuses on being good stewards of the environment.
Anyone interested in joining can call 274-8739 or e-mail Terryfirstname.lastname@example.org