FOPI Staff 2017/05/26

Water levels on the Ottawa River have now receded enough that Petrie Island is accessible by foot. The road, however, is still closed due to damages at the culvert. Some of our members and staff were able to walk in to the island this week to assess the damages and start the cleanup. While there was considerable water damage to several buildings, most of the debris has been removed and sorted through, and the floors have been cleaned of all of the mud. The picnic area is in relatively good condition, however there is still debris that needs to be moved and paths that need to be restored. Most of the trails are still under water along with part of the picnic area, but we are hoping they will be accessible soon. In the coming weeks we will be needing volunteers to help with cleanup and trail maintenance so we can start our programming as usual. If you are interested in volunteering please email fopistaff@gmail.com for more information, or stay tuned here for more information on FOPI workdays.

FOPI members on May 23rd 2017, hard at work relocating the bridge to the picnic area

Sarah Kennedy 2017/05/09

Just came back from a little paddle around the island.  The current on the second causeway bridge was very strong- there will be a lot of erosion.

I am sorry to say, there are still at least a dozen very large beavers.  They were all huddled together, in a big furry pile.  I paddled right up to them, and they made adorable little grunting noises before evacuating the one remaining mound that’s still out of the water, near the quonset hut… One of the engineers that works with me is on the South Nations Board, and says that you can hire trappers through the conservation authority.  They’ve gotten at several big trees in that area- tons of new damage!

David Villeneuve 2017/05/08

As bad as the flooding is in 2017, spring flooding has occurred before.  Here is a photo of the Grandmaitre cottage (now the interpretive center for the Friends of Petrie Island), probably taken around 1962.

Grandmaitre cottage ice damage around 1962

FOPI Staff 2017/05/02

Hello FOPI members,

We would like to thank you all for your support in the past year, and looking into 2017 it is time for membership renewals! Attached is the form for membership renewal; note that the email on the form is outdated, please use this email (fopistaff@gmail.com), or mail directly to 1395 Sault Street, Orleans ON, K1E 1G8

We are very excited for the upcoming summer season on Petrie Island. Our summer students are currently planning events and preparing for our opening in the next few weeks. Unfortunately due to extensive flooding the island is inaccessible by car at the moment, but we are hoping to open once the flooding recedes.

On April 21st, grade 7 and 8 students from Ashbury College came to Petrie Island to help with an Earth Day Cleanup. Because the island was flooded, they ended up cleaning the shoreline across from the island, but still had a lot of fun and collected 20 bags of garbage.

In late April a few of our volunteers ventured out into the waters to check the flooding levels on the island. As you can see in the pictures below, the flooding is almost up to the floor of the Nature Centre. Although many structures have shifted, most are still in good condition. We will definitely be needing extra volunteers in the next few weeks to help clean up the damage from the flooding.

More updates to come about the programming in late May once we are open. If you have any questions feel free to use this email address. We hope to see you out on the island very soon!

Ashbury students in grades 7 and 8 helping with a shoreline cleanup across from Petrie Island on April 21st 2017
The plane from the playground next to the Nature Centre took a little trip after the flooding – it really can fly!!
Flooding near the Nature Centre in late April 2017

Paul LeFort 2017/05/02

As of 0800 today, the water at North Service barricade is about a meter closer to the bottom of the slope than it was at the highest water two weeks ago. That means no access is practical, not even to Yves’ marina, and there are no serious options for using our boat or canoe. There is no convenient way to reach the outer areas, as water is now three feet deep in the picnic area, on the access road past the culverts, and in front of the trail shed. Water will also surround the interpretive center, and be up two feet inside the work shed.

Al and I (and Steve, if he feels safe in an inflatable) may paddle out as the weather clears to inspect for lost items. In the longer term, if access to the marina area returns, I might go in and bring the jonboat and engine back to the marina so that some of us can go in and clean the mess in the immediate area of the interpretive center.

The Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board’s last press release is clear, and is even more true today: reservoirs are full, and at this point, the water is expected to rise further, regardless of weather conditions, as the spring freshet has begun.

OTTAWA/GATINEAU, Friday April 28, 2017 –The Ottawa River Regulating Committee cautions that water levels and flows along the main stem of the Ottawa River between Mattawa and the Montreal region will remain high for a sustained period of time. Well above normal April precipitation combined with snowmelt runoff have resulted in recent peak levels not seen in the last 20 years in many locations. Current meteorological forecasts are calling for additional rainfall of 30-60 mm over much of the Ottawa River basin. This additional precipitation is expected to once again increase levels that had been in decline.

Current weather forecasts predict very significant precipitation beginning Sunday, April 30th into Monday, May 1st. These weather conditions could cause rapid increases in levels and flows between Mattawa and the Montreal region. The increase in levels and extent of possible flooding will depend on the amount of precipitation received, the tracking of the storm as well as the amount of snowmelt in the north.

With current forecasts, northern snowmelt runoff combined with precipitation is expected to fill most northern reservoirs in the next few days. As a result, the capacity to retain additional runoff from the headwater areas in the north will be diminished.  

Paul LeFort 2017/04/28

Greetings from P3. Al and I performed a circumnavigation (walk is the wrong word here).

One can drive carefully (washouts) up to the culverts. Water is two feet deep past the culverts, so Al got in over his boots, being a little crazy, and  I used waders, being prepared. Same problem for access to the picnic area from the parking lot.

Damage assessment:

  1. The water came up and touched the cottage floor, but did not go over the floor. We may assume it will dry nicely, but should test under linoleum anyway. Front verandah is intact. Lost: one rain barrel.
  2. Both the airplane and Thomas the Tank engine are gone, and did not land on any downstream beaches. Ditto most of the “fence logs”.
  3. The big bridge on Muskrat is hanging by sheer luck.
  4. The old crib that was beside Muskrat is now in front of the turtle blind.
  5. Turtle blind needs complete rebuild.
  6. Water rearranged content of work shed, flooding over the chain saw on the bottom shelf. I started it on the third pull.
  7. No water damage in schoolhouse, but it was wet at some point.
  8. Trail shed lost its steps, all six bags of concrete are set, and the water reached over the lawnmower engine. Like the chain saw, it will start first pull. Mud everywhere in there.
  9. Platform at Holland will need repositioning.
  10. All bench platforms are secure but floating around on their anchors.
  11. There are now only two planting boxes, both moved about 30 feet into the landscape. The bug hotel is gone as well. Won’t miss it…
  1. Sarah’s boat is safe, as noted before.
  2. No damage was noted from loose tree trunks, although the piles were reorganized and some floated away. The river was kind enough to completely level out the north branch of the trail to the western area.
  3. Wildlife report: not that many birds, too many geese, one garter snake with a woolen hat wearing a lifevest.

If the weather holds out (unlikely), we will be able to walk in with boots next Wednesday. The Regulation Board says the reservoirs are full, and expects the river will go up again as snowmelt and the coming rain do their thing.

Paul LeFort 2017/04/24

No change in the last two days. The water has dropped, but not visibly.

Dozens of the curious and loyal continue to visit the Trim Road barricade daily, many of them people who visit the island almost daily under normal circumstances.  They bring cameras and binoculars and enjoy the large number of birds present, along with a few muskrats and beavers. A captive audience for a membership drive…

Owner Yves and staffer John boated into the marina again today and are performing some duties. It seems that a few of the stored ice huts are flooded.

When waters recede, the City will have to clear and repair the access road before barricades are removed for the general public. By then I’m sure some os us will have gone out to inspect, either by human-powered boat or by human-powered boot (Steve: pun intended).

Waters are being held back in the upstream reservoirs (kilowatts will be distributed to taxpayers over time). If we do not have the kind of rain in Mat that April showered us with, things should be “normal”, meaning the regular spring freshet situation: no land access to Muskrat and Holland trails.

I don’t think any of the power outlets inside or outside the two buildings are low enough to have shorted out the power and popped the breakers.