By Sarah Doktor, Simcoe Reformer
Snakes, turtles and other critters will have more opportunities to cross from one side of the Long Point Causeway to the other thanks to new funding.
The Long Point Causeway Improvement Project (LPCIP) steering committee recently received approval for $223,000 in funding over three years from Environment Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program (HSP) for Species at Risk to install up to six new ecopassages along the Long Point Causeway.
The funding will enable LPCIP to design, engineer and receive approval for the additional passages recommended in the project’s original feasibility study.
“Having that certainty for three years of funding is great,” said Rick Levick, LPCIP project coordinator. “Our goal is to get (all six eco passages) in by the time the county gets to their plan to repave the Causeway in 2017-2018.”
The funds will also help maintain the barrier fencing that keeps animals off of the road and support the monitoring of the ecopassages already installed.
Last fall, three ecopassages – two dry and one aquatic – were built to allow turtles, snakes and frogs to pass safely under the roadway because the Causeway is known to be one of the most deadly roadways for animals like snakes and turtles in the area.
“This continued funding shows that our work is considered scientifically valid and ecologically worthwhile,” said LPCIP chair Paula Jongerden, in a media release.
The LPCIP began monitoring the passages in May to evaluate their effectiveness.
“We have solid evidence they are being used,” said Levick, who noted as the weather continues to get warmer, activity in the passages will also heat up.
The LPCIP is also monitoring the flow of water through the aquatic ecopassage that connects Big Creek Marsh with the Long Point bay. So far the water is flowing the way the committee had expected and hoped, said Levick.
The committee will look at other funding for additional aquatic passages. To date, the LPCIP has raised more than $1.2 million and spent more than $160,000 on studies, surveys and environmental assessments.
In May, the committee installed a sign beside one of the ecopassages to honour the late Dr. Dave Ankney, a LPCIP committee member and local scientist.