Long Point Causeway gets Green Light to Install Ecopassages
by CRYSTAL ROBERTSON, Stewardship Coordinator ||
Biologists in the cottage community of Long Point, Ontario are excited for a long term solution to high numbers of wildlife road mortality. The peninsula of Long Point is attached to the mainland by a narrow causeway. Designed in 1927 this stretch of roadway originally bisected the Big Creek Marsh with a series of bridges between existing sandbars. As time went on the bridges were removed and a solid roadbed was put in its place, leaving only one bridge for the outlet of Big Creek. As part of the Long Point World Biosphere Reserve, this wetland complex is home to a diverse array of wildlife including many Species at Risk turtles and snakes. These animals travel from the Big Creek Marsh over the road into Long Point Bay and back throughout the year. So many turtles are run over at Long Point that the causeway is ranked the 5th deadliest road in the world for turtles!
After years of fundraising and environmental studies by the Long Point Causeway Improvement Project and its partners, the County of Norfolk finally has the go ahead from the Ministry of the Environment to install three ecopassages under the roadway. These will help to facilitate wildlife movement and reconnect the hydrological systems of the marsh and Long Point Bay. Fencing has been used over the past few years to help keep wildlife off of the road, but limited animal movement. This fencing will now be used to funnel animals towards the ecopassages so that they can travel safely under the road.
Two of the ecopassages will be square concrete culverts, similar to those found on roadways elsewhere in Ontario. The third will have a steel grate top, allowing sunlight, heat and airflow into the ecopassage and offering an alternative for animals who would otherwise avoid the darker tunnels. Over the next few years the ecopassages will be monitored to see which type the animals prefer to use, and which animals are using them. Long term plans for the causeway include adding additional ecopassages in more areas along the roadway. The Long Point Causeway Improvement Project has raised close to $900,000 so far and hopes to continue to improve the lives of wildlife in the Big Creek Marsh and Long Point Bay.
Want to learn more about what our friends at Long Point are doing for wildlife? Visit http://longpointcauseway.com/