I have missed the woods.
That’s why I’m delighted to tell you the nature reserves of The Couchiching Conservancy are re-opening.
Beginning May 14, you will be able to access all of the Conservancy reserves normally open to the public, with the exception of the Adams Nature Reserve, which will be closed just a little while longer.
We have been closely monitoring the directions of the province, public health officials and individual municipalities to make sure the Conservancy is aligned with the health needs of the community.
The decision to close our properties to the public March 26 was not an easy one, because we know how important nature is to our own well-being. As the ultimate essential service, many of us depend on a walk in the woods to calm our nerves in a time of crisis. However, as we began to see large crowds congregating at a few of our properties, it became apparent that remaining open would directly contradict multiple requests for the public to stay home.
But with the province opening parks and conservation areas this week, we feel it’s reasonable to follow their lead.
As we re-open our nature reserves, we are asking everyone to practice social distancing wh
ile staying on the trails. If you see that parking areas are full when you arrive, we ask you to go to another reserve or come back at a later time.
Large crowds not only pose a health risk to us all, they pose very real risks to the flora and fauna we all work so hard to protect. As people move off a trail to maintain their distance, wildflowers and plants just emerging are trampled. Species at risk can even be threatened.
If you have a dog, it is even more important now than ever to keep it on a leash to avoid unintended tangles with others enjoying the trails.
These few, simple practices will keep you safe, keep our reserves in good condition, and help our organization manage the risks posed by re-opening.
The Conservancy office will remain closed until further notice, as will the few amenities we have on our reserves, such as the toilet facilities and the gazebo at Grant’s Woods. Staff will continue to work from home, using a range of technologies. There has been no shortage of tasks. Reserves are being monitored thanks to the careful organization of staff and volunteers, committees continue to meet virtually to carry out the business of the Conservancy. The board of Directors held its first Zoom teleconference in April and will continue its meeting schedule uninterrupted. Rescheduling or in some cases re-inventing events and programs has kept us hopping.
On the acquisition front, we have two properties in the Black River Wildlands Corridor moving toward permanent protection and two conservation easements in the works for the Oro West priority area.
We will need your continued support in the coming weeks and months, as we navigate through these exceptional times. But we are on course; our determination to see Nature Rising is undiminished. And on top of it all, we can once again get out in the wild spaces we hold so dear.