Roads that Work for Wildlife

Repost From Georgian Bay Biosphere

 

Work has begun on a three-year project to evaluate the effectiveness of an innovative road mitigation design for the protection of reptile species at risk from road mortality.

Led by Georgian Bay Mnidoo Gamii Biosphere (GBB) and in partnership with Carling Township, Laurentian University and Killbear Provincial Park, this project aims to:

  • Fill in knowledge gaps on barrier fence designs
  • Evaluate how this fencing performs under standard road maintenance and weather
  • Update roads best management practices for species at risk management practices

Daily road mortality surveys conducted by GBB in 2020 and 2021 helped determine reptile “hot-spots” on Conservation Drive in Carling Township where mitigation efforts could be focused to reduce species mortality. Because the road was historically built through a provincially significant wetland, wildlife uses the road to access the habitat on the other side, leading them to interact with vehicles.

This October, the installation of unique exclusion fencing along the roadway on Conservation Drive commenced. This fencing will lead reptiles (and other wildlife, including fish!) to four culverts that will act as safe eco-passages, connecting both sides of the wetland.

“Through discussions with public works departments and First Nations communities, we realized that there were some barriers to traditional fencing that stands vertically with relation to road maintenance or removing access to traditional hunting lands,” says Tianna Burke, Lands and Wildlife Programs Manager. “Concave fencing has the potential to better accommodate road maintenance activities such as mowing and snow plowing, and accommodate more porous areas like access points and driveways without trapping species on the road. The curved feature of this design allows it to sit relatively at-grade with the road, aiming to impede some of our more agile reptiles, such as foxsnakes, from being able to climb, improving maintenance ability, and not creating a visual barrier.”

Beginning 2023, a graduate student from Laurentian University will work with GBB on evaluating design effectiveness.  This will include determining:

  • If the mitigation effectively reduced mortality at the identified hotspots through road surveys
  • Fence effectiveness at directing reptiles towards safe eco-passages
  • Reptile usage of eco-passages and what other wildlife may be using them
  • Maintenance needs, structural durability, and performance of structure over time, including the effects of freeze-thaw cycles, and public works activities

The long-term goal is to use this project’s findings to further develop and implement best management practices that are more specific to the eastern Georgian Bay landscape than what current practices provide. Similarly, provide best management practices that are effective ecologically, while also making implementation easier for public works departments.

“With funding for conservation action being limited, it is important to test innovative and cost-effective designs to reduce reptile road mortality. If we can implement effective and inexpensive solutions, that will be a win for all stakeholders, especially the snakes!” says Dr. Jackie Litzgus, Laurentian University Biology Professor.

Study results will be shared with various levels of government for future opportunities to apply it on the landscape, to help reduce road threats to reptiles and helping their populations.

We thank Ganawenim Meshkiki, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and Township of Carling for their financial and on-the-ground support of this project, and Dr. Jackie Litzgus from Laurentian University and Killbear Provincial Park for their expertise and knowledge. Chi-miigwech for support from Wasauksing First Nation and Shawanaga First Nation whose traditional lands this project is taking place on.

Photo of - Summer 2024 GBA UPATE Newsletter

Summer 2024 GBA UPATE Newsletter

Click here to read it online 

Photo of - The Water Brothers Documentary Series

The Water Brothers Documentary Series

PaB's Own Mifflin Brothers Present Two Documentaries and Answer Your Questions Sunday, July 14, at 10 am Ojibway Club, Pointe au Baril  The Water Brothers is an eco-adventure documentary series that explores the world, uncovering and investigating the problems that tend to search for solutions, with educated conservationists, scientists, and citizens, all to better protect our most precious resource. PAVING OVER PARADISE This is a documentary about the importance and loss of wetlands in southern Ontario. About three-quarters of the wetlands that once existed in southern Ontario are now gone. This documentary explores how we can restore these vital habitats, which are also some of our best natural defences against the effects of climate change. THE GREAT PLASTIC LAKES  Over 10 million kilograms of plastic enter the Great Lakes each year. As the largest freshwater ecosystem on Earth fills up with plastic, it builds up in the bodies of wildlife and the 40 million people who rely on the Lakes for drinking water. The Water Brothers are searching for promising solutions to the massive global challenge of plastic pollution.

Photo of - Family Movie Nights in Carling

Family Movie Nights in Carling

Join us at the Carling Community Centre for family movie nights. Admission is by donation, and snacks will be available for purchase. The proceeds from this event will go towards the playground located at the Mike Konoval Community Hub. Child-friendly movies will be shown on the dates below, starting at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 18th - Migration Thursday, August 15th - Elemental This event is in partnership with Gilly's Snug Harbour Restaurant and the Parry Sound Public Library. View Movie Night Poster Here  

Photo of - The Impact of Boat Wakes: Webinar - Tuesday, July 16

The Impact of Boat Wakes: Webinar – Tuesday, July 16

Dr. Chris Houser, Dean of the faculty of Science and Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Waterloo, has been conducting research on the impact of boat wakes for the past two years. His work has just been published, and we are excited to have him share this new research at an exclusive Safe Quiet Lakes Webinar. NEW WAKE RESEARCH Webinar Tuesday, July 16 at 12 noon   CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Photo of - Municipalities partner with Georgian Bay Land Trust to protect over 32,900 acres of wetlands across the region

Municipalities partner with Georgian Bay Land Trust to protect over 32,900 acres of wetlands across the region

Article published in the Parry Sound North Star, July 6, 2024 ‘A terrific concept’: Parry Sound-Muskoka municipalities partner up with Georgian Bay Land Trust to protect over 32,900 acres of wetlands across the region GBLT has already secured the southern part of the corridor through an agreement with the Township of Georgian Bay, and is securing lands up north through agreements with the Township of Archipelago. The Township of Archipelago has teamed up with the Georgian Bay Land (GBLT) Trust for the Corridor Project — an initiative already protecting over 32,900 acres of wilderness and counting. Although the proposal had been before council since May, it was not until the last meeting on June 21 that council members decided to support GBLT in its project to create a corridor to protect wetlands along Georgian Bay — from Port Severn to beyond the French River. Here is what you need to know The Georgian Bay Land Trust is a not-for-profit, volunteer-driven organization founded in 1991 with the intention of preserving ecosystems in Georgian Bay. GBLT currently has 79 protected areas, including nine provincially significant wetlands, habitats for 43 species at risk, over 3,000 acres of aquatic habitats, and over 3,000 acres of unfragmented forests, some of which are old growth. The proposed GBLT Corridor Project is a 150-kilometre strip of land stretching along Georgian Bay and divided into three migratory corridors — south, middle, and north. The whole corridor connects wetlands from Port Severn to Bayfield Inlet and aims to protect the environment and a wide variety of species at risk. GBLT has already secured the southern part of the corridor through an agreement with the Township of Georgian Bay in June, where they agreed to protect an extensive network of land stretching from Honey Harbour to Twelve Mile Bay, directly conserving 553 acres of municipal land and providing additional protection to 32,900 acres of Crown forests and wetlands. As GBLT is looking to secure lands to the north, it started conversations with the Township of Archipelago in May. At the last council meeting held on June 21, the municipality partnered up with GBLT to establish a migratory corridor throughout the north and south of the township — covering approximately 5,000 acres — through conservation easements. According to GBLT, these easements still permit public and Indigenous land use and access to Crown lands while prohibiting subdivision or widespread commercial use. The agreement doesn’t prevent the exercising of fishing and hunting rights, nor does it prevent telecoms from accessing the land if it’s necessary to install fiber-optic cable or hydro extensions. Council also directed staff to work with the not-for-profit to develop a plan for the competition of the Corridor Project. “This is a terrific concept that doesn’t impede various individuals, organizations, or corporations from accessing Crown land. Yet, at the same time, it provides us with some protection against attempts to develop lots outside our settlement areas or other areas of our township.” — Coun. Earl Manners.

Photo of - SAVE THE DATE: The West Carling Association Annual Meeting of Members and Barbecue

SAVE THE DATE: The West Carling Association Annual Meeting of Members and Barbecue

Please join us on Saturday, July 27, at 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. (9:30 a.m. for refreshments) at the Carling Community Centre, followed by a barbecue on Goat Island. The agenda and documents for the meeting will be circulated by email in July, along with the details for the barbecue.

Photo of - WCA Short Story Contest

WCA Short Story Contest



We invite WCA members to contribute compositions to a short story competition. The winning entry will be published in our summer newsletter, and the winner will receive a $100 gift certificate for the Trestle Brewery restaurant in Parry Sound. The runner-up will receive a $50 gift certificate for Trapper’s Choice restaurant in Parry Sound. A small group of WCA volunteer members will judge the submissions. Here are the rules: The story must be non-fiction and have something to do with Carling Township and/or Georgian Bay. Topics could include but are not limited to: An exciting or humorous open-up A memorable fishing trip Fun at the cottage A tale about critters of the area Historical accounts of West Carling Entries must be submitted in Word and should not exceed 1500 words. If you are submitting photos along with your story, please submit them in a JPG or PNG format, and the maximum file size should not exceed 3 MB. All entries must be sent to info@westcarling.com by July 15. Additional rules and regulations:

Prize is offered as is and is not exchangeable for cash value. Open only to 2024 paid members of the West Carling Association and their immediate family, verified upon contest conclusion if selected as a winner. One entry per person or family group. The awarding of the prize is at the sole discretion of the West Carling Association. By entering the contest you agree to let the WCA post your name and your entry on our website, social media pages and in our newsletter if selected as the winner. Contest is not open to residents of Quebec.

Photo of - National Indigenous People's Day - June 21

National Indigenous People’s Day – June 21

Celebrate National Indigenous People's Day For generations, many Indigenous groups and communities have celebrated their culture and heritage on June 21 or around that time of year because of the significance of the summer solstice as the longest day of the year. National Indigenous People’s Day is a day for all Canadians to honour and celebrate the legacy, diverse cultures and exceptional contributions of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples. How will you mark the day? Commit to learning about the people who’s traditional territory we live on. Here are some great resources: Shawanaga First Nation has an interesting history of The First Peoples of Georgian Bay Georgian Bay Biosphere has an extensive collection of resources for cultural learning Learn more about the Anishinabek Nation Read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s 94 Calls to Action and look for ways to bring action to reconciliation Find a local event you can attend to honour the day Plan a visit to a local Indigenous organization, Friendship Centre, or Museum Watch a film from the National Film Board of Canada’s catalog of Indigenous-created films Listen to an Indigenous-created podcast Read an Indigenous-authored book or find an Indigenous-authored children’s book to share with any young ones in your life Plan a visit to a local Pow Wow this summer Support an Indigenous business National Indigenous Peoples Day is a great time to learn more about the cultural diversity and the contributions of Indigenous Peoples. Learning about Indigenous people, places and experiences is a step we can take towards reconciliation.

Georgian Bay turtles getting boost in Carling Township through University of Waterloo study



Chantel Markle, a professor at the University of Waterloo, conducts research that aims to boost the turtle population in Georgian Bay.   Although often spotted crossing and nesting along area roads, turtles in the region are at risk. But a new study from the University of Waterloo sparks some hope of saving them.

Since 2019, researchers from the university have been working in Carling Township, designing and enhancing turtle nests to significantly improve their chances of survival. “Lots of turtles are out crossing the roads, and it’s very common to see turtles nesting along the sides of the roads, which is dangerous for the female turtle and hatchlings because when they emerge from the nest, they’re tiny — so they’re at risk of being hit by cars,” said Chantel Markle, a professor in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Waterloo and lead author of the study. “We see turtles nesting on the roadside because of habitat loss and degradation. The study’s goal was to create a more natural nesting space so that the turtles would have additional options to nest in safer locations.” According to the study published in late May, researchers found that the nest they designed provided a safer environment for incubating eggs compared to natural sites, where the probability of an egg hatching was 10 per cent. The likelihood of an egg hatching from a created nest was 41 per cent. Researchers chose locations that ensured nests remained warm and drained well after rain. Markle added that since they started monitoring the nests in 2019, there haven’t been significant changes to the initial designs, as they had proven positive results. “When people think of a turtle nesting, they probably think of big sandy beaches, but that’s not what we have here. So, when we went out, we scanned the rocks in the landscape to look for areas suitable for building off these nest sites,” said Markle. “We would ensure enough soil for the female to lay her eggs. Then, we covered the sites with moss and lichen to create the natural surface cover of these areas — there’s a lot of technicality to building it.” She added that conducting the research in Carling was a good choice as the university had collected valuable data from previous studies at the site and also because of the high turtle population in the municipality. Markle said researchers will continue to do monitor the nests and may expand the study. “Five years is a very small portion of a turtle’s lifespan, so there is still a lot of additional monitoring that we want to do on these sites. I would say the next step is to scale up the design, as we’ve only tested it in our one study area, which was only nine sites in the initial design,” she said. “We’re now trying to work on how we build more and what that would look like.”

View All News