Long Point Causeway Improvement Project


Safe Passage

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.