By BARBARA SIMPSON, SIMCOE REFORMER
Ecological projects benefitting the Long Point wetland have received cash from south of the border.
The U.S.-based Sustain Our Great Lakes has presented a $110,000 grant to the Long Point Causeway Improvement Project and the Long Point Waterfowlers’ Association. Both organizations work to improve ecological conditions on the land spit.
The long anticipated ecopassage project in particular will benefit from the funding. Three culverts are expected to be installed underneath the Long Point Causeway, allowing aquatic wildlife to safely travel from Big Creek Marsh to Long Point Bay.
The project is undergoing an environmental assessment.
“The (environmental assessment) process is quite lengthy,” said Rick Levick, co-ordinator of the Long Point Causeway Improvement Project. “Right now, we are waiting for the draft report prepared by the consultant for the county.”
Once the draft report is complete, it will go before Norfolk council. A 30-day public comment period follows. Feedback will be included in a final report to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.
Installation of the culverts is expected to take place during the off-season.
“We’re looking at next year (for the installation), but the funding is for 18 to 24 months,” Levick said.
The work of the community organization has already reduced the amount of animal deaths along the causeway. Roadkill of snakes and turtles has dropped 50% over the last three years and 60% for species at risk.
The Long Point Causeway Improvement Project has installed temporary fencing, monitors roadkill levels and operates signs.
“We’ve made people aware of the issue,” Levick said.
The eco-passage project already has a $200,000 grant from Environment Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program.
The Long Point Waterfowlers’ Association is expected to use its part of the funding to create more open water at the Crown Marsh. President Jim Malcolm could not be reached for comment as of press time.
The Sustain Our Great Lakes program is administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. It is funded through a variety of partners, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and mining company ArcelorMittal.