The Long Point Causeway Improvement Project is a community-based effort to reduce the negative ecological impacts of the 3.5 kilometre-long causeway that links the Long Point Peninsula on Lake Erie with mainland southern Ontario. These include high levels of wildlife road mortality, particularly of Species At Risk turtles and snakes, and disruption of the natural hydrological functions of the Big Creek Marsh, one of the largest remaining coastal wetlands on the Canadian side of the Great Lakes.
The Project began in October 2006 and has been managed by a Steering Committee which includes representatives from Bird Studies Canada, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Parks Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, Norfolk County, the Norfolk Land Stewardship Council, the Long Point Region Conservation Authority, the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority, the Norfolk Field Naturalists, the Long Point Country Chamber of Commerce, the Long Point Anglers Association, the Long Point Waterfowlers Association and the Ruffed Grouse Society. There are also individual citizen members who are well-known in the local community.
The Committee receives administrative and management support from the Long Point World Biosphere Reserve Foundation, which promotes research, monitoring, education and projects that support the goals of conservation and sustainable use in the Biosphere Reserve.
The project has been guided by a feasibility study conducted by Ecoplans Limited of Kitchener that recommended actions that would reduce wildlife mortality and restore the historic hydrological connections between Big Creek Marsh and Long Point Inner Bay.
Much more detail about the proposed plan, additional signage, traffic calming methods, temporary measures and monitoring are included in the Ecoplans study which is available for downloading on this site and for review at the Port Rowan Public Library.
- The Causeway was constructed in 1927-1928 to provide access to the Long Point beaches from the mainland.
- On average, nearly 2300 car trips are made across the causeway every day between April and October (2005 data). Four times this number of cars crosses the causeway on summer weekends.
- Hundreds of animals are killed by vehicles on the causeway annually, according to surveys by the Canadian Wildlife Service – Environment Canada (CWS). Most are frogs but 99 other species of frogs, turtles, snakes, birds, and mammals have been run over including rare and endangered species.
- So many turtles were being run over at Long Point that the causeway is now ranked the 4th deadliest road in the North America for turtles.
- The Big Creek Marsh acts as a giant natural kidney for the entire watershed. Because the marsh now has only one outlet into Long Point Bay, sediment and pollution-laden water now flows directly into the bay instead of being purified by the marsh.