The Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary sees at least 60,000 visitors a year, and The Friends of the Sanctuary, a volunteer group, is working towards renovating the boardwalk and revitalizing the Sanctuary to further increase the popularity of the destination.
Last week, local MP Guy Lauzon was at the Sanctuary to announce $45,000 in funding towards Boardwalk improvements, being undertaken by the St. Lawrence Parks Commission and the Friends group.
“This is just a small step forward, but a big step towards realizing your dream,” Lauzon told the small group of volunteers who gathered for the announcement Friday.
“Our Government is pleased to support the St. Lawrence Park Commission, and specifically the Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sancutary, as part of our efforts to expand and improve recreational and multi-purpose trails across the country.”
This $45,000 funding allocation comes from the $10 million National Trails Coalition Fund.
Pauline Gagnon of the Friends said that the entire project to replace the boardwalks is estimated to cost $400,000 but it is being undertaken piece by piece.
With the Blue Heron boardwalk trail already condemned at the Redwing trail deteriorating quickly, the Friends and the Parks are actively seeking funding partnerships and help for the project.
Planning work on the Redwing trail is already underway.
The work will see a 550 section of the trail, one of the most heavily used sections, redesigned and reconstructed for better accessibility and increased longevity.
Along with the NTC funding, the St. Lawrence Parks Commission will contribute $69,000 and the Friends of the Sanctuary will provide $6,000 from their ‘Get on Board’ fundraising initiative towards the $120,000 phase one project.
“This Sanctuary is an incredible benefit for the surrounding community, so it’s a positive move to resurrect this jewel,” said Chuck Clavet, president of the Friends.
“The Friends of the Sanctuary’s ‘Get on Board’ initiative really got the ball rolling for this project,” said Lou Seiler, manager, parks and recreation facilities wit the SLPC.
Along with resurrecting the boardwalk infrastructure, the incredibly dedicated board of 14, are working diligently to increase membership numbers from 100 they have now.
Most of the board members are from the South Stormont area.
The Friends want to build awareness of the natural asset of the Sanctuary and extensive programming it offers.
Their next moonlight ski and snowshoe event is scheduled for March 7.
During March break, March 16-21 daily activities are planned at the visitor centre.
The Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary offers more than eight kilometers of self-guided nature trails were visitors can get up close to nature seeing countless species of birds, wildlife and natural habitat.
Access to the trails is free.
Skis and snowshoes are available to rent at the visitor centre which is open from noon until 4 p.m. weekends.
Small donations to the Friends organization are often requested from those participating in various programs.