Friends of the Sanctuary opens restored boardwalk

People check out the newly restored boardwalk on the Blue Heron Trail at the Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary. (The Leader/Blancher photos)
Ross Miller, president of the Friends of the Sanctuary, spoke of the substancial 2,000 hours of volunteer labour it took to rebuild the boardwalk. (The Leader/Blancher photo)

INGLESIDE – Closed for more than 10 years, and under restoration for over two years, the boardwalk for the Blue Heron Trail at the Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary officially reopened for public use on November 4.

Dignitaries and members of the Friends of Sanctuary were on hand for the official unveiling and reopening of the boardwalk and trail.

“I’d like to express my appreciation to all our volunteers, both members and non-members, who worked so hard in putting over 2,000 hours of work to make this trail open again,” said Ross Miller, FOTS president. “This is a part of the park that people haven’t been able to get to for many years.”

Miller credited the work of Rick Blanchard in spearheading the boardwalk restoration.

Rick Blanchard – Friends of the Sanctuary, Mike Pratt – St. Lawrence Parks Commission, MP Eric Duncan, Sam Schuler – FOTS, and Ross Miller – FOTS pause during their tour of the completed boardwalk for a photo.

“There’s a lot of unsung heroes involved,” said Blanchard. He explained that a lot of physical labour was done by volunteers, replacing much of the woodwork above the water. Cedar cribbing at the waterline had to be replaced, as well as much of the framing. The boardwalk has been out of use for over 10 years.

“This was all land that was taken away because of the Seaway,” Blanchard said. “As traumatic as that was, it can be a bit of small consolation that we have 300-400 people in a week that walk these trails.”

Mike Pratt from the St. Lawrence Parks Commission (left) and Ross Miller from the Friends of the Sanctuary (right) pull the ribbon on the newly reopened Blue Heron Trail and boardwalk at the Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary near Ingleside November 4. (The Leader/Blancher photo)

Mike Pratt, assistant manager of parks operations for the St. Lawrence Parks Commission spoke of how great it was to work with the FOTS on the project.

“This is a tremendous group, we have a great partnership here and we hope this continues,” Pratt said. “There is much more work to be done.”

The project was funded approximately 50/50 between the friends group and the SLPC with each side contributing about $30,000. A major fundraiser for the FOTS was selling names on boards used for the walkway deck. Over 700 boards were sold raising over $7,000 towards the project.

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