SOUTH DUNDAS – Getting outside has been a godsend to many during this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the approaching winter has many concerned that the weather may limit options to get outdoors.
However, recent news from South Nation Conservation is a bit of good news for outdoor enthusiasts and more.
SNC will be keeping up its annual practice of leaving certain conservation areas open and maintained for winter use.
Locally, that means that Two Creeks Forest and Robert Graham Forest in South Dundas will be open, as will the Oschmann Forest in North Dundas.
“Over 30 kilometers of local trails will be maintained for winter fun this year,” says John Mesman, SNC’s Communications Lead. “Our family and pet-friendly Conservation Areas are accessible free of charge, and the trails are great for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, walking, and hiking.”
To respect other trail users and to ensure the protection of our ecologically significant public land, people and their pets are reminded to stay on marked, maintained trails, and dogs are not permitted to be off leash. Motorized vehicles are not allowed on any SNC Community Land.
“We do kindly ask our visitors to continue to be respectful of other park users and facilities, and to properly dispose of garbage and to clean up after their dogs” he added.
SNC’s seasonal park closures this year come on the heels of one the Conservation Authority’s busiest summers on record.
SNC’s Conservation Areas remained open and welcomed over 150,000 visitors, mostly from May to October.
People staying home and the cancellation of many summer vacations are likely contributing factors to this increase.
Also the eight month closure of one of this area’s most popular natural attractions, the Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary, had many locals seeking alternative locations for their nature walks and explorations. (Please note that the UCMBS opened back up to the public in October and that the Long Sault Parkway is now officially closed for the season.)
Traditionally SNC would close its seasonal parks following the Thanksgiving weekend but opted to extend access this year into November to accommodate the increased use and great weather.
We have enjoyed all of these trails at one time or another over the past few months and intend to bundle up and enjoy them throughout the winter months.
Looking back on our time outdoors, our outdoor nature adventures have given us a sense of normalcy in a time when very little feels normal.