By Monte Sonnenberg, Simcoe Reformer
Wednesday, April 17, 2013 2:56:20 EDT PM
LONG POINT - Anyone interested in a guided tour of the Long Point Causeway project can find a good one on YouTube.
The Brantford production company Lock3Media came to Long Point last November to shoot a video of the work done so far. The aim of the project is to reduce the incidence of reptile mortality on the 3.6-kilometre stretch of road.
The nine-minute video features Oshawa actress and environmentalist Mary Krohnert in conversation with Long Point cottager Rick Levick, co-ordinator of the Long Point Causeway Improvement Project. The segment briefly examines the issues that gave rise to the project and delivers an up-close look at the eco-passages that have been installed so far.
“I thought the video was first rate,” Levick said Wednesday. “Really, really high quality. As for my performance, my wife and daughter thought I could use a wardrobe assistant. ‘Where did you get that hat?’”
The Long Point demo is part of an ambitious plan to document all 16 world biosphere reserves in Canada in one-hour documentaries. Lock3Media has dubbed the project Striking Balance. The production company hopes the demos catch the attention of individuals and corporations who are prepared to fund such an undertaking.
“This is just the beginning to get momentum behind it,” says Yvonne Drebert, a producer with Lock3Media. “If we can get people involved, away we go. This is the kickoff.”
The nine-minute pilot played to favourable reviews at Norfolk council Tuesday night. Brian Craig of Langton, president of the Long Point World Biosphere Reserve Foundation, introduced the video to council.
“The many diverse projects undertaken in Canadian biosphere reserves aptly demonstrate that a balance between people and nature is attainable and necessary,” Craig said. “Healthy economies depend upon a healthy environment. The Striking Balance initiative shares success stories and will inform and inspire viewers that – together – as global citizens, we can balance the environment and economy for the benefit of present and future generations.”
The Long Point Causeway was built in the 1920s to create a land link between Port Rowan and the Long Point cottage community. Prior to the road’s construction, Long Point was only accessible by boat.
Levick’s committee is installing eco-passages to give snakes, turtles, frogs and small mammals a safe alternative to crossing the causeway, which divides Long Point Bay from the Big Creek Marsh. With as many as 20,000 vehicles traveling down the causeway on a busy summer day, roadkill has become a serious concern in this ecologically-sensitive part of Norfolk County.
The causeway project also seeks to re-establish the historic link between the marsh and the bay. A bridge at one time served this purpose but it was collapsed and infilled several decades ago.
As a result, the Big Creek Marsh has been silting in. As well, fish that have historically travelled between the marsh and the bay have been denied their traditional access.
A link to Lock3Media’s nine-minute demo has been posted at the Simcoe Reformer website at www.simcoereformer.ca.
519-426-3528 ext. 150
Above photo : Members of the Long Point Causeway Improvement Committee and dignitaries turned out on a beautiful Friday morning, November 16, to witness the installation of ecopassages on Long Point. Participants included (left to right): MPP Toby Barrett, Long Point World Biosphere Reserve Foundation Vice President Paula Jongerden, Committee Coordinator Rick Levick, “Myrtle”, Councillor Betty Chanyi with grandson Ben Baruth, Committee member Jim Abbey and Biosphere Reserve President Brian Craig.
For Rick Levick, Christmas came early this year. “It’s so exciting” said Levick as he watched the wet ecopassage being installed west of the Canadian Wildlife Service office at Big Creek National Wildlife Area on the Long Point Causeway.
After years of hard work by the Causeway Improvement Committee of the Long Point World Biosphere Reserve Foundation, three ecopassages were installed to permit the safe movement of animals between Big Creek Marsh and Long Point’s Inner Bay under the Causeway road.
“It’s going back to the way nature designed” said Levick. “It’s a big operation dredging out that channel to restore connectivity”.
The wet ecopassage will allow fish and other aquatic species to travel back and forth. Two smaller dry ecopassages have already been installed for turtles, reptiles and small mammals. Levick said: “We were aiming to be done by the first week of December and we’re at least three or four days ahead of that”.
Critics warned of the cost of maintaining the ecopassages. Levick responded: “Bill Cridland [Norfolk County Roads Manager] isn’t worried. They maintain culverts all over Norfolk County. These structures are half the price of traditional box culverts”. Up to eight more ecopassages may be added after a two year study is undertaken by Long Point Waterfowl.
Committee member Jim Abbey attended the ceremony on November 16 and said “People forget how it all started. There was a tremendous sense of indignation about what was happening to the road itself and all the mortality. The first meeting took place at Bird Studies Canada about six years ago with Paul Ashley and Dave Reid and Scott [Gillingwater] and Rick and a lot of other people. They helped bring together a plurality of the community”. “There were concerns that it would be very expensive and property taxes would rise”. “There was a growing sense of nostalgia about what it was like years ago”. Abbey predicted: “Once this is in, people will see that it’s not catastrophic”. Abbey said: “Rick has shown real leadership. I don’t believe we would have weathered the controversies without his buoyant enthusiasm”.
Biologist Scott Gillingwater commented: “The positivity of the community has been phenomenal”. Councillor Chanyi described the initiative as “something that’s so very needed” and MPP Toby Barrett said: “A Causeway like this would never be allowed today”. “It’s our responsibility to remediate what was built”. Rick Levick said: “It will be reward enough when the first turtle goes in one end and out the other”.
We’ve added a new photo gallery in the “Maps and photos” section under the More Info heading. The photos show the installation of the two types of smaller terrestrial ecopassages for wildlife and the much larger aquatic ecopassage that will reconnect a waterway in the Big Creek Marsh with Long Point Bay while providing safe passage for wildlife under the Causeway. It’s interesting to note that each section of the aquatic culvert weighs 20 metric tons (about 44,000 pounds).
Paula Jangerden, chair of the Long Point Causeway Improvement Project, and Scott Gillingwater, a species at risk biologist and member of LPCIP, show off one of the three underground eco-passages under construction in Long Point during a tour of the site on Friday. The passages will provide a safe thoroughfare for the endangered snakes and turtles that migrate across the causeway each year.
By Sarah Doktor, Simcoe Reformer
The construction of underground eco-passages in Long Point to protect turtles and snakes from becoming road kill is now underway. “We’re actually ahead of schedule,” said Rick Levick, co-ordinator of the Long Point Causeway Improvement Project, which is spearheading the initiative. If everything goes according to plan the construction will be completed by the first week of December, said Levick, during a tour of the site for media and dignitaries on Friday.
The project was created because the man-made road leading into Long Point is known as the fourth deadliest road for turtles in North America. The constructed passages will provide safe thoroughfare for the reptiles and small animals that will use them. Two of the passages have already been installed and only need the road to be repaved over them.
“The ironic thing is, people come down here looking for the eco-passages and say ”Where the heck are they?“They’re underneath your car,” said Levick.
Three passages will be installed in total, two dry and one aquatic. The two dry culverts are specially designed to attract reptiles to use them as passageways.
“They have holes in the top to let light and heat through because the cold blooded creatures are a bit hesitant to go through a very cold buried tunnel,” said Levick.
The aquatic culvert will also restore water flow between the Big Creek Marsh and the Long Point Bay. “We’re not creating anything new, we’re just putting it back to the way nature designed it,” said Levick.
Fencing, which was previously installed, will steer the animals toward the passages to encourage their use.
“We chose these locations, these particular locations, because we did an analysis of the road kill data we’ve collected over the years and these particular areas are hot spots. This is where a lot of turtles get killed because this is where they want to cross,” said Levick.
The LPCIP will monitor the passages and mortality rates on the roads next summer to ensure the culverts are successful.
Road mortality for species at risk is a major issue in North America, said Scott Gillingwater, a species at risk biologist and member of LPCIP. Turtles in particular are an important part of the local ecosystem. “They balance, by providing food and taking food. As soon as you take one piece out of that puzzle you can see a lot of the ecosystem fall apart,” said Gillingwater.
The project has been a labour of love for the organization for six years. “The hair on the back of my neck is still standing up,” said Paula Jangerden, chair of the LPCIP, in reference to seeing the project finally come to fruition.
Several organizations, individuals and Norfolk County have raised nearly $850,000 toward the project since 2006.
After hearing deputations from Causeway Improvement Committee (CIP) Coordinator Rick Levick and Stu Ross of the Friends of the Causeway (FOCAS) , Norfolk Council approved $58,000 in funding towards the cost of installing three ecopassages under the County-owned Causeway Road at Long Point. CIP deputation
CIP Coordinator Rick Levick addressed Norfolk Council on October 2 in support of the County staff recommendation to approve $58k for the installation of three ecopassages under the Causeway Road this fall. Levick cited the tight timeline for installing the ecopassages before winter frost stops the work and that “much of the funding we have raised for this project must be spent by March 31, 2013”.
To date, CIP volunteers have secured more than $890,000 over the past six years to undertake work on the Causeway, including erecting 4,000 metres of wildlife fencing and paid over $150,000 for mandated environmental and engineering impact assessments. Levick said: “Norfolk taxpayers have not had to contribute to any of the work completed to date… we are able to contribute $187,000 towards the construction of the ecopassages and another $18,000 to install fencing to link the passages to the existing fencing. FOCAS response
Stu Ross spoke on behalf of the “Friends of the Causeway” local citizens’ group which is opposed to the Causeway Improvement Committee plan to install ecopassages under the road. Ross urged Councillors to reject the request for $58,000 towards the cost of installation, saying that the County’s roads are “deteriorating faster than we can repair them” and that “Norfolk Council should not use taxpayers money for wildlife when there are human needs”.
Webmaster’s Note. The following is Mr. Levick’s response to Council regarding the FOCAS deputation.
As Council has permitted a representative of the FOCAS group to speak against the ecopassage project, I have a few comments. Firstly, I would advise Council that the Ministry of the Environment turned down a request by FOCAS to “bump up” the EA to a much more complex and costly schedule c process. To have done so would have been a colossal waste of time and taxpayers’ money.
I would also note that the MOE also did not accept FOCAS’ alternatives to the ecopassages or any of its other claims such as the ecopassages causing the draining of the big creek marsh. Instead, the MOE approved this project based on the scientific credibility of what was proposed by the experts we consulted in preparing the EA document.