General: LSNT volunteers continued trail development & maintenance efforts throughout the year thanks to a great group of dedicated volunteers. Work continued throughout the summer, more than any other summer in our history.
Mystery Falls Trail Upgrade: The final piece of the footbridge across the gully on the west leg of the Mystery Falls Trail Loop was installed for safety reasons. The second footbridge from the parking lot to the falls was removed due to embankment collapses and the trail was rerouted to allow for a crevasse level crossing. A trailhead sign was installed at the Elm Tree Drive entrance to the trail. In addition, a pedestal was built at the falls to display a ‘roots’ fossil.
Blazing: The Ausable River Cut Conservation Area, L-Lake and Forest Dunes got a fresh coat of paint on the blazes.
Trail Signage: The North Lambton Secondary School fabricated another17 wooden, routered signs to be mounted at various locations in 2020.
Ausable River Valley: After being closed for the past 3 years due to dead trees, we made significant progress clearing more than 150 trees this year. It is expected that a portion of this trail will be reopened in 2020 north of Mystery Falls into the heart of the Ausable River Valley. We received major tree-cutting help from the Thames Valley Trail Association. Additional work crews including the Shoelace Club have helped to clear brush and paint blazes.
Fragmentation: Students from the North Lambton Secondary School geography class helped plant 24 trees in the Ipperwash Dunes & Swales property to close off side trails and help eliminate the continued fragmentation of the forest.
Trailhead Project: The Port Franks Trailhead ‘Log Pavilion’ project is now complete. Its features include landscaping, native shrubs, wildflowers, natural boulders. large side-panels with a Trail Map, History of Port Franks, Natural Heritage of the area, a Donor Recognition Tree and Native Artwork by local artist Red Dog, Spirit Rocks painted by elementary school children, and a green steel roof donated by the Home Hardware Building Centre of Grand Bend. Also included is this project is a ‘Circle of Life’, wooden carved owls and hand-crafted benches.
Ausable River Cut: A Story Walk was installed in the Ausable River Cut Conservation Area. This 18 post children’s themed story was funded by the ‘Healthy Kids Community Challenge’ and sponsored by the Municipality of Lambton Shores. We also installed a footbridge at the back of the property due to high water levels which flooded a portion of the trail.
LSNT COMMUNITY OUTREACH:
Trail Hikes: LSNT led trail hikes organized by the local Health Centres, hosted an International Trails Day hike in the County Heritage Forest, and led a hike along the Grand Trunk Trail with the Airstream Trailer group who stayed a weekend in Forest.
Trail Maps: We collaborated again with the Grand Bend Chamber of Commerce to issue an updated map of all the hiking trails in Lambton Shores & Vicinity. The map is an insert in the Grand Bend Summer Tourist Guide (LSNT received 500 trail maps for distribution). LSNT is looking to create their own ‘map book’ to include extended trail & hiking information beyond the maps and will continue to seek funding accordingly..
Dance for Mother Earth: We hosted a Canada Day event at the new Port Franks trailhead ‘Circle of Life’ to raise awareness of our latest creation. Truly a community beautification project that has caught the attention of the municipality and its residents.
Trail Badge Program: The free badge award program was launched late in 2018 but really took off in 2019. 78 of 200 badges have now been claimed by hikers from as far away as New York and Indiana. Many hikers have come from 2-3 hours away and stayed 1-3 nights in our local hotels/motels while enjoying our trail network. Based on this success, we are already planning a youth badge program to be launched in 2020.
Adopt-a-Road: We conducted a cleanup of the 5.5 km stretch of Bog Line, from Hwy 79 to the Ausable River Bridge, in November as part of the Lambton County Adopt-a-Road program.
LSNT Displays: In April, LSNT manned a display table at the Open House jointly hosted by the Municipality of Lambton Shores & the Kettle Point First Nation. LSNT manned a display at the ‘Coastline Women’s Show’ event in May as well as the ‘Holiday Marketplace’ in December at the Port Franks Community Centre, an LSNT fundraiser.
Phragmites Control Experiment: The experiment which began in 2018 was ended after 1 year due to too high water levels in the Mud Creek tributary. A final report was submitted to the Nature Conservancy of Canada.
Other Community Groups: Two LSNT Board members participated in the working group of the ‘Collective Impact - Connected Rural Communities Collaborative’ hosted by the Grand Bend Area Health Centre. One LSNT Board member acted as the liaison to the Lakeshore Eco-Network which focuses on environmental education and area re-foresting.
Framed Picture Presentation: A framed picture was presented to the North Lambton Secondary School in recognition of the work done by the woodworking class in creating handcrafted trail signs.
First Nations ‘Heroes’ Story: The Story Walks behind the Port Franks Community Centre and at the Ausable River Cut Conservation Area were updated with a very inspiring book. ‘Go Show the World’ is a tribute to historic and modern-day Indigenous heroes, featuring figures such as Tecumseh, Sacagawea and former NASA astronaut John Herrington.
Trailhead & Circle of Life Dedication: We celebrated the Port Franks Trailhead & Circle of Life project with a special ceremony. A large crowd and a busload of high school students attended. A lot of community effort went into this beautification project that will be here for generations to come. We will continue to enhance the Circle of Life in 2020.
There's much to see here. So take your time, look around, and learn all there is to know about us and what we done in the community!.
Partnered with local Landowners of Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA's), the local Council & Staff, local Community Service Groups and donors.
Constructed and/or upgrade trails, installed trail signage & painted blazes, and re-naturalized damaged areas in our 'Gems of Nature'.
Built substantial trail infrastructure including ATV barriers, boardwalks, benches, wheelchair accessible lookout deck, floating dock for canoes & kayaks, small bridges over gullies, ladder on steep embankment.
Created extensive public awareness of the critical need to protect & preserve our remaining 'Gems of Nature' through public meetings, newspaper articles, presentations to community groups, networking, brochures, website and social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).
In all, LSNT has blazed and now maintains 40+ km of nature trails on over 6000 acres of the some of the most environmentally sensitive lands in Lambton Shores & Vicinity beyond the confines of our treasured Pinery Provincial Park and Rock Glen Conservation Area.