June 30, 2009 — Efforts to protect wildlife by reducing the annual road kill of endangered turtles and snakes along the Long Point Causeway got a $69,000 boost thanks to funding from both the federal and Ontario governments.
The Long Point Causeway Improvement Project (LPCIP) will receive $48,000 from Environment Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program and $21,250 from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources’ Species at Risk Stewardship Fund to carry on with barrier fencing, turtle nest mounds, signage, and monitoring activities along the 3.6 kilometre roadway, ranked the fifth deadliest in the world for turtle mortality. The HSP funding will also support the LPCIP’s efforts to inform and educate the public about the ecological issues being addressed by the Project, including protection of Species at Risk.
“This continued funding from both levels of government represents a real vote of confidence in the scientific validity of our work and the urgent need to protect the endangered species that are regularly killed on the Causeway”, said Paula Jongerden, chair of the LPCIP Steering Committee. She noted that funding applications to both programs are reviewed by scientific experts before approval is granted.
Work began earlier this month to install about 2,300 metres of temporary barrier fencing that will prevent animals from venturing on to the busy roadway that links the Long Point peninsula to the mainland. Last year, the Project installed 2,500 metres of this fencing to reduce roadkill of turtles, snakes and amphibians.
As well, 10 more artificial nest mounds have been created along the Causeway to provide alternative nesting sites for adult, female turtles that are often killed on the road as they search for high, dry areas to lay their eggs. Different methods of preventing predation of the turtle nests by raccoons, skunks and other animals will be studied this year.
All of this work will be rigorously monitored over the next four months to verify the effectiveness of these measures and learn more about the movement of animals along and across the Causeway. The road kill reduction work and monitoring program will be overseen by the LPCIP’s Science Committee whose members represent the Canadian Wildlife Service, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Parks Canada, Bird Studies Canada, Long Point Waterfowl, the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority and the local community.
The LPCIP will also continue its public awareness efforts to educate both residents and visitors to the Long Point area about the animal mortality issue and other ecological problems created by the 80 year-old Causeway. For example, the LPCIP recently hosted a “turtle walk” for the Kids for Turtles program to allow youngsters an opportunity to view nesting turtles along the dyke in the Big Creek National Wildlife Area. Turtle crossing signs, obtained from the Kids for Turtles program, have also been erected to alert drivers to watch for turtles on the road.
“People in this community should be proud of the fact that we are working together to reduce the road mortality of several Species at Risk turtles and snakes and other animals that are routinely killed on the Causeway,” said Jongerden. “Long Point is recognized as a World Biosphere Reserve, one of only 15 in Canada, because of its rich diversity of plants and wildlife and its crucial role as a haven for many rare and endangered species.”
Jongeren also noted Ecoplans Limited, the environmental consulting that developed the proposed Improvement plan, has been invited to present its work at the International Conference on Ecology and Transportation in the United States this September. “This is a further indication of the quality and scientific validity of our plans to reduce the negative impacts of the Causeway on the Long Point ecosystem.,” said Jongerden.
Jongerden regrets that some members of the public may be confusing the LPCIP with an opposition group calling itself “Friends of the Causeway Association” and may be mistakenly joining or funding FOCAS thinking that they are supporting the Improvement Project.
To date, the LPCIP has raised about $200,000 in funding to undertake a feasibility study about possible solutions to environmental and public safety problems with the Causeway and to reduce the annual mortality of wildlife, especially Species at Risk.
For more information on the Causeway Improvement Project, please visit our website at www.longpointcauseway.com
The Long Point Causeway Improvement Project is managed by a Steering Committee comprised of representatives from 16 government agencies and local organizations and several individuals well-known in the 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 Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk is a partnership-based, conservation initiative sponsored by the Government of Canada. The Program is managed cooperatively by Environment Canada, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Parks Canada, and administered by Environment Canada.
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources is investing more than $ 4 million this year in volunteer stewardship projects across the province that will help protect and recover species at risk and their habitats. The projects are part of the province’s $18-million, four-year Species at Risk Stewardship Fund.