Men’s Breakfast Learns of Planning for the Future of Our National Parks

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Submitted by Brian McHattie 

The March Men’s Breakfast meeting featured Acting Parks Canada Superintendent, John Festarini, speaking about planning for the future of our parks, Bruce Peninsula National Park and Fathom Five National Marine Park. We learned about operational updates and upcoming management planning.
We are all excited about the new 13.2 km2 Driftwood Cove property that brings assembly of lands within the park to 90% completion. With 6.5 km of Georgian Bay shoreline, and ten species at risk, protecting the Driftwood lands is critical to park ecological integrity. John noted that the Driftwood Cove Open House postponed earlier this month due to frozen weather, is being rescheduled for May.
John spoke about species and habitat restoration efforts beginning with removal of the former parking lot at Singing Sands, and re-connecting the Lake Huron shoreline sand dune system with the sensitive fen wetland habitat to the north-east. The turtle eco-passage project on Cyprus Lake Road, Emmett Lake Road, and new eco-fencing off Dorcas Bay Road, combined with the citizen science Turtle Trackers program is making a huge difference for turtles, snakes, and other animals. Reforestation at Johnstone’s field will re-connect forest patches important for songbird breeding and black bear movement.
On the top of everyone’s mind the past five years has been the extraordinary visitor increases to the parks and Northern Bruce Peninsula. Visitor increases largely stabilised in 2018, and parks messaging on trip planning featuring a parking reservation system led to 37% fewer vehicles directed away from the Cyprus Lake day area. Still, the Park is embarking on a visitor use management planning project to manage possible impacts on ecological integrity at Flowerpot Island, and other important places.
The Federal Infrastructure program provided $25M to our parks and a number of important projects are nearing completion: improvements to the Cyprus Lake campground/head of trails area, a kiosk to better manage the entrance to Emmett Lake Road – Halfway Log Dump, re-purposing of the former Ranger Camp area on the shores of Emmett Lake in cooperation with the Saugeen Ojibway Nation, enhancing the viewing area at the Grotto, and better wayfinding and signage. Next steps are to improve the shoreline experience at Little Dunk’s Bay accessible from the Visitor Centre, and improvements at Little Cove. In response to a question, John noted that the camper dock in Beachy Cove had been repaired.
We are passionate about the parks and the time is now to get involved in planning for the future. Management Plans are underway for both Bruce Peninsula National Park and Fathom Five National Marine Park, guiding management from 2021-2031. As part of the process, a new Fathom Five Visitor Experience Strategy will be undertaken. Specific management plans will be prepared for important places like Flowerpot Island. John challenged us to think through our vision for the parks – what will they look like in 2031? Make sure you get involved!
The next Men’s Breakfast is Saturday April 13, 2019 at the Tobermory Community Centre. Breakfast is served at 9am, with coffee ready by 8am. The guest speaker will be April Patry, Executive Director of the Bruce Peninsula Health Services Foundation who will be presenting on the new MRI to be purchased for our Regional Hospital in Owen Sound. This critical piece of medical diagnostic equipment is available to all Bruce Peninsula residents. For Additional information please contact Rainer at 519-596-8359. The Men’s Breakfast is open to all men in Northern Bruce, please join us for breakfast, the camaraderie, and an interesting speaker.