PETRIE ISLANDS AREA

Interpretive Trails

Master Plan

 

City of Cumberland

Planning Department

October 2000

1.0    Introduction

The City of Cumberland in cooperation with the Regional Municipality of Ottawa‑Carleton (RMOC) and the Friends of Petrie Island has carried out a study to establish a system of interpretive walking trails for the Petrie Islands area and the adjacent mainland shoreline. The study was undertaken in order to establish a course of action which, when implemented, would afford the public an opportunity to enjoy the scenic natural beauty of this part of the Cumberland waterfront without negatively impacting on the surrounding environment. When complete, there will be two main interpretive trails. The Shore Trail will be located along the foot of the wooded slope north of the North Service Road between the Tenth Line Road and Trim Road. The Island Trail is a loop‑back trail which will be located on the main island starting within and running west from the existing picnic area.

 The study area for the project encompasses approximately 275 acres. The area is primarily comprised of wooded areas, small meadows, a Provincially significant wetland and Regionally significant Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI) as well as a sand extraction operation which has existed on the island since approximately the year 1950 (Figure 1). Except for a small number of vacant cottage lots and one permanent residence, lands within the study area are presently within public ownership. The RMOC purchased most of the Petrie Islands in 1983 with a view to protect its natural character and to provide waterfront open space and opportunities for recreational uses to service residents of the surrounding urban area. The City of Cumberland has been acquiring land along the mainland shoreline north of the North Service Road within the study area in order to permit public access for passive outdoor recreational purposes. Much of the land in this part of the study area is now owned by the City.

 2.0    Study Process Summary

The following is a brief overview of the key events leading up to the preparation of this document.

 Original Concept Plan In May of 1997 City staff prepared a concept plan for the Petrie Islands area and adjacent mainland shoreline. The concept was meant to provide a vision for possible future uses in the area and to be a starting point for discussion and debate. It included, as possibilities, a series of interpretive trails on the island and along the mainland shoreline as well as a public beach, park, picnic areas, marina and related facilities within the area currently occupied by the sand extraction operation.

Study Discussion Paper

In July of 1998, City staff prepared a discussion paper which set out the basic steps of a work program to undertake a Master Planning exercise for the Petrie Islands area (Attachment 3). It identified a two‑part process to review various options for undertaking improvements on the islands and adjacent mainland shoreline. In discussions with Regional staff, it was agreed to pursue as a first phase of work the interpretive trails project and to delay the more in depth review of development options within the sand operation area until such time as this phase of the project could be carried out in conjunction with study work associated with the possible interprovincial bridge crossing being considered for the Petrie Islands area.

 First Public Open House Meeting

An Open House meeting to display and receive public comments on the May 1997 concept pathways plan was held at the Ray Friel Centre on November 24, 1998. Notice of the open house was mailed to all Cumberland community associations, affected property owners and other interested persons and was published in the November 1998 issue of the Communique.

 Interpretive Trails Study

The interpretive trails component of the project commenced in the spring of 1999 when the City retained a consultant to undertake an environmental inventory of the area and to make recommendations regarding trail location and possible interpretive themes for the trails. Daniel F. Brunton Consulting Services completed the natural environment inventory (El) in December 1999. The proposed trail locations subsequently underwent minor revisions to reflect the recommendations of the El. The City retained at the same time a landscape architect to, in consultation with the environmental consultant, prepare site inventory and trail interpretive opportunity background materials. Thakar Associates Design Consultants also provided diagrams of "typical" design details for foot bridges, markers and interpretive station locations.

 Second Public Open House Meeting

A public open house meeting to view the revised concept trail plans and the draft environmental inventory (El) was held at City Hall on November 25, 1999. Reductions of the various trail concept plans and an executive summary of the El were mailed out to interested parties and made available at the open house meeting.

 Completion of Trail Background and Trail Location /Design Plans The trail location and design plans were completed through the spring and summer of 2000 enabling the preparation of this study. The various drawings and designs prepared by Thakar Associates Design Consultants are presented in the body of this document.

3.0     Study Area Interface Zones and Interpretive Resources

 Two of the maps prepared by Thakar Associates illustrate the broad findings of the environmental inventory. These maps were used in the decision‑making process of locating the trails and interpretive delivery points (stations) and messages along the trails.

 The Landscape Tolerance and Inter face Zones map (Figure 2) describes the location of ecologically sensitive and human activity zones as well as their interface areas. It identifies patterns of recent human activity areas within and adjacent to the study boundaries and locates areas of significant vegetation, mature forested areas and marshlands.

 The Interpretive and Scenic Resources map (Figure 3) identifies views and vistas, unique vegetation and geologic areas, areas of wildlife habitat, aquatic vegetation areas and wetlands in proximity to the proposed trail alignments.

4.0    Trail Design / Implementation Principles

The following basic principles were developed and used in the route planning for the trails and which are to be used in the construction of new trail sections:

$                    Trail surface materials are to be low cost / low impact packed earth except for the packed granular surface on the old road bed along the north part of the Island Trail needed to facilitate wheelchair access.

 $                   Use of non‑native materials such as asphalt and stone dust should be avoided.

 $                   Boardwalks and/or footbridges are to be used over wet trail areas to permit the natural flow of surface water and to mitigate erosion caused by trail use.

 $                   Where possible, trails are to be located on slightly raised sections of ground, for example at a slightly higher elevation than the foot of slopes adjacent to wet areas, in order to facilitate trail use during wet seasons.

 $                   Trails must be setback 3.0 metres minimum from the waters edge.

 $                   Work in or near to water (ie. footbridges, culverts, docks, etc.) requires prior approval of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.

 $                   Mature vegetation is to be retained. Minor trimming of tree limbs adjacent to the trails may be required to facilitate the safe passage of users.

 $                   Use of bicycles should be prohibited on all trails except for the trail located adjacent to the south and west boundaries of the sand operation. This section of trail provides a cycling route from Trim Road to the picnic area parking lot.

 $                   Extensive use of regulatory signage is required to advise users to, for example, stay on the marked trails, keep dogs on a leash, stoop and scoop, and to advise of the restrictions on use of bicycles and motorized vehicles on trails, consumption of alcohol, overnight camping and burning of campfires.

 $                   Major / minor interpretive stations on the trails (identified by a "target" symbol on Figures 4 and 5) are to have a basic fit‑up comprised of a trail map on a kiosk, an all‑weather trail brochure dispenser box and a waste receptacle.

 $                   Numbered trail marker posts are to be provided at approximately 50 metre intervals along the length of the trail to guide the user. The Queenswood Forest trail requires marker posts at closer intervals (20 ‑ 30 metres) to keep users on the trail.

 $                   To ensure a common theme or "look" for trail fixtures, Thakar Associates has developed concept design sketches for the interpretive station sign boards, footbridges and trail markers (Appendix 2) to be used as a guide for construction.

  5.0    Trails Overview

 Two main interpretive walking/hiking trails are to be constructed. The "Shore Trail", located north of the North Service Road, is an approximately 2.3 kilometre long trail which follows along the foot of the slope adjacent to the Petrie Marsh. The "Island Trail" is approximately 1.8 kilometres long with two trail extensions of approximately 400 metres each at the westerly and easterly ends. Optional trails, one a 400 metre loop through the Queenswood Forest in the westerly part of the Shore Trail and the other a water‑based interpretive canoe trail meandering through the Petrie Islands, were identified through the study process. There are also several existing minor trails located in proximity to the existing picnic area on the island. Detailed discussion on all trails can be found later in this section of the report.

 Interpretive information about each trail is to be provided through brochures available in dispensers at trail head locations. Use of the interpretive trails is to be on a "self‑guided" basis. Several interpretive message delivery points will be located along each of the trails. These delivery points or "nodes" are identified with a target symbol on the trail layout and system details maps (Figures 4 and 5). The basic fixtures for each of the nodes will be a trail map on a kiosk, an all‑weather trail brochure dispenser box and a waste receptacle. Basic cost estimates for the construction of the various trails and interpretive station improvements are summarized in Attachment I to this report.

 5.1    Shore Trail

The trail head for the Shore Trail is to be located to the north of the North Service Road adjacent to the foot of Tenth Line Road. If the level of trail use warrants, sufficient space exists at this location to provide a small gravel parking area for approximately 10 cars. The westerly third of the Shore Trail follows an existing pathway. Except for minor footbridges crossing wet sections, no pathway surface improvements are necessary in the westerly section of the trail.

 The easterly section is, for most of its length, a new trail alignment which is to follow along the foot of the slope adjacent to the wetland. Several new minor foot bridges are required along the length of this new I to 1.5 metre wide pathway in order to cross creeks and wet areas. Four longer (approx. 20ft.) foot bridges are required in order to cross more major drainage outlets. At the Taylor Creek outlet, rather than use a bridge crossing, the path will travel up and over the concrete culvert with boardwalks built along the gravel side slopes on both sides. The Shore Trail at the easterly end should angle to the southeast to meet the intersection of Trim Road and North Service Road.

 During the study a possible trail link along the west side of Trim Road was discussed. Such a trail would offer pedestrians and cyclists a route to the island trails without the potential conflicts with vehicular traffic which users face at present. However, the causeway to the islands along Trim Road is quite narrow and the design implications and costs of widening the crossing or, alternatively cantilevering a walkway off the side were prohibitive. A trail alignment option on the northeasterly corner of the shore trail (shown on the original May 1997 concept plan) providing a trail route which avoided Trim Road except for over the causeway crossing. This northeasterly trail route is also not recommended due to extensive Petrie Islands Area wet soil areas and costs associated with a significant footbridge that would be needed. A separate trail in the westerly boulevard or a roadside bike lane should be included in the fliture redesign and construction of the portion of Trim Road within the study area to provide safe pedestrian access to the islands.

 The May 1997 concept plan also identified a possible boardwalk out across the Petrie Marsh area to a small viewing platform. This feature is also not recommended due to the cost of installation, maintenance and security related issues. Also, the environmental consultant felt that there was no significant interpretive opportunities gained in bringing the trail user out into the wetland area in this location. A scenic lockout to be located on the easterly section of the trail provides the best views and interpretive opportunities for the Petrie Marsh at significantly less cost and with less possible environmental impact. Easily accessible from the North Service Road by vehicles and pedestrians, this easterly lockout is to be comprised of a trail map and information kiosk as well as a pavilion (gazebo), benches and a small new gravel parking area for approximately 10 cars.

 5.2    Queenswood Forest Trail

 An optional 0.4 kilometre long interpretive trail loop through the Queenswood Forest located at the westerly end of the Shore Trail was identified in the environmental inventory. Many informal trails exist now throughout the Queenswood Forest which contains a regionally significant sugar maple / hemlock forest. The entrance to this trail is to be identified to the user by a smaller trail head comprised of a map and trail information on a kiosk. This area is characterized by minimal forest understory therefore, to keep the user on the trail, numbered marker posts must be closely spaced along the trail. The Queenswood Forest offers excellent interpretive opportunities and in particular to school groups due to its proximity to the westerly trail head for the main trail adjacent to the foot of Tenth Line Road.

 5.3    Island Trail

 The Island Trail trail head is to be located adjacent to the existing picnic area parking lot. The northerly half of the Island Trail follows an old gravel road bed. Construction of a packed aggregate surface treatment over the old road bed west of the Champagne residence up to the first major "node" will facilitate wheelchair access to this portion of the trail system. The southerly "loop back" section is a new trail alignment which is to be a 0.5 metre wide earth surface pathway. One significant foot bridge (Figure 8) is  required in order to cross a narrows located in the southeast part of the trail. It is anticipated that the majority of trail users will wish to use this 1.8 kilometre loop. The focus of the delivery of interpretive information will also be in this area.

 The westerly extension of the island trail (aprox. 0.8 km return trip to the main trail) follows to the westerly end of the existing old road bed. Pathway surface improvements are not required along this section of the trail. This part of the trail offers users views of Muskrat Bay on the south and a sandy rest area at the end of the trail. In order to discourage trail users from traveling to the Ottawa River shoreline at this location, no formal trail loop back will be provided. Views of the Ottawa River are offered at several existing locations along the mid section of the Island Trail. A sign will be posted at the terminus of this "dead ended" trail to advise users not to proceed further to the west and into the more sensitive ecological areas of the island.

 The easterly extension of the Island Trail follows an existing section of trail located to the south of the sand operation. The easterly two thirds of this trail was recently constructed by the RMOC as part of its lease deal with the sand quarry operator. The westerly section of the trail follows a pathway recently installed by the Friends of Petrie Island. A new gravel parking area for approximately 10 cars is to be constructed at the easterly end of the trail adjacent to Trim Road. This will complement the existing parking area near the picnic grounds which can accommodate approximately 30 cars (plus approximately 10 along the shoulder of the road).

 5.4    Canoe Trail

 An interpretive canoe route through the islands was identified in the environmental inventory report. The "trail head" for the canoe route is to be located at the existing informal boat launch located to the southwest of the sand operation. Numbered trail markers could be located on posts and/or hung in trees along the shoreline. Formal improvements to the launch area to facilitate canoe launching are not required but may be desirable in the future if user traffic increases. A trail kiosk and brochure dispenser adjacent to the launch area is required to guide the user around the canoe trail. A new gravel parking area adjacent to the canoe launch (for approximately 10 cars) is also to be constructed.

 5.5    Other Trails

 Several minor trails have been developed through and adjacent to the picnic area by the Friends of Petrie Island volunteer group. An informal "fisherman's" trail also exists along the shoreline south of the sand operation. Although most are not part of the interpretive trail system, these trails are identified as "existing trails" on the maps produced for this study and offer the public an excellent walking experience close to the main picnic area parking lot.

 6.0    Interpretive Brochures

 Three interpretive brochures are to be produced for the trails. One for the "Shore Trail", one for the "Island Trail" and one for the "Canoe Trail". Suggested themes and messages for the brochures were developed through the El study and are identified on the Thakar Associates maps (Figure 5). The Shore Trail brochure is also to contain a section dealing with the loop trail through the Queenswood Forest area. The brochures, to be made available at trail head locations, should have messages and themes keyed into the various numbered sign posts to be located along the trails. The trail marker sign posts therefore must not be installed until after the interpretive brochures have been prepared.

 Brochures can either be prepared by City staff or, alternatively, by a volunteer organization such as the Friends of Petrie Island who have already prepared a number of interpretive information sheets for the Petrie area.

7.0    Trail Use Monitoring

 The pathways have been located and designed assuming a level of use that would not cause adverse impacts on the surrounding landscape. Once the trails are established, their level of use should be monitored to ensure that damage to surrounding areas does not occur. Monitoring and reporting could be undertaken by a volunteer organization such as The Friends of Petrie Island. Changes to the trail surface material, regulatory signs and, if necessary, restrictions on access to and use of (ie. shoreline fishing, dog walking, etc.) certain trail sections may be necessary in the future if damage occurs.

 8.0    Conclusion

 The construct the interpretive trails for the Petrie area can be carried out either through the tender and construction contract process or can be done more cost effectively over time by volunteers. An option is to provide City works staff and equipment in combination with local volunteers. Construction of the basic trail network is the first step. Layout of the trail alignments should be done in the spring just following high water in order to be able to locate the trails in the driest possible locations. The interpretive program must be finalized prior to installation of any trail improvements such as trail markers, trail head maps and kiosks. The cost of the interpretive station improvements may be able to be offset through corporate sponsorship.

 

 

 

January 2000 - Interim Report -  Comments on Trail Plan

Comments Submitted

 

Highlights of the comments received from various groups are set out below. Staff response to the issues are shown in (italics).

 

Ministry of Natural Resources ‑ The MNR has commented that it is generally in agreement with the use of the area as proposed. Specific comments were provided from the RVCA's biologist (refer to Attachment II). In summary:

6.         The MNR is suggesting a prohibition under the Ontario Small Vessels regulations of motor boats within the inner channels of the islands in the vicinity of the canoe trail. (Staff will pursue this item with MNR,)

7.          Do not recommend the northeastern loop on the Shore Trail. (No longer being proposed.)

8.          Do not recommend the westerly extension of the Island Trail. (This is over the existing old road bed and has been reviewed and confirmed in the El study.)

9.          Recommend a 3 metre trail setback from the waters' edge on the new loop back on the primary island trail. (This can be accommodated.)

10.        Any new footbridges, culverts, etc. (work near/in water) requires prior approval by the RVCA. (This will be done as part of future trail construction,)

 

Ottawa Duck Club ‑ Supports establishment of interpretive trails, comments mainly concerned with tree preservation (refer to Attachment 12). In summary:

11.       Leave dead trees since they provide nesting opportunities and food source for wildlife. (Only dead trees that cause a public safety concern adjacent to trails will be cut/trimmed,)

12.              Supports trapping of beaver to reduce live/dead tree loss.

 

Ottawa Field Naturalists Club ‑ Generally in agreement with the Environmental Inventory report and the interpretive themes proposed. Have some concerns with the location of some of the trails (refer to Attachment 13). In summary:

               Concerned with potential impact that the trail may have in the Hackberry swamp forest area (new loop back on the primary island trail). (D. Brunton has reviewed this issue and has provided a response to it ' see Attachment 14.  in summary, Mr. Brunton is still of the opinion that the proposed loop back trail is unlikely to have measurable impacts and is not recommending that it be deleted from the trail system.)

S                   Concerned with bicycle usage on the trails. (Bicycles are only permitted on the existing stone dust trail located south of the sand operation since it is part of the main pedestrian access to the islands. The number of signs prohibiting bicycle use on the interpretive trails will be increased as part of the installation of future interpretive signs.)

S                   Concerned about future recreational facilities within the sand operation area. (Appropriate future use of this area will be determined by a separate study.)

 


Ducks Unlimited ‑ Generally support the use of the area for interpretive trail use. ‑   Have offered that funds may be available to the Municipality to support trail construction and interpretive station improvements. (Staff are seeking the approval of Committee to pursue this matter.)

 

Ms. Carol McNamara ‑ (Cumberland resident) ‑ Agrees with interpretive themes proposed for and the locations of the trails:

S                   Packed aggregate surface on Island Trail will provide for wheelchair access.

S                   Handicap access around the existing picnic area trails would be desirable.

 

Friends of Petrie Island ‑ Generally in agreement with the Environmental Inventory report and the proposed interpretive trails (refer to Attachment 15). In summary:

S                   Concerned with the possible impacts of shore fishing along the new island loop back trail. (Prohibiting shore fishing in this area would be appropriate given the environmental sensitivity of the area and the concerns expressed by the MNR and the OFNC. Interpretive signs and interpretive brochures will reflect this prohibition.)

S                   Would like to add a turn‑around trail loop at the western end of the Island Trail. (The design of the extension of the interpretive trail in this location is to simply dead‑end the trail and erect a sign advising users not to proceed further. This \vas meant to discourage trail users from venturing into more sensitive island areas and towards the Ottawa river shoreline. The construction of an additional pathway would disturb the sensitive area.)

S                   Would like to see improvements made to the fisherman's trail. (Although not part of the interpretive trail system, Council may wish to support FOPI 's trail improvements in this area ‑further discussion is needed.)

S                   Support restriction of motor boats in the Turtle Pond. (Possible restriction of motor boats discussed under MNR comments.)

S                   Support an expanded sign program (along the highway) to direct users to the island. (Such a sign program was not within the mandate of the study and requires further discussion and approval by Council.)

S                   Offer volunteer labour for trail construction and monitoring. (Discussed earlier in this report.)

 

Next Steps

 

The following steps must be carried out to bring the project to completion:

1.         Staff to request consultants to undertake any changes required to the final draft of the Environmental Inventory and the trail alignment maps / concept sketches.

2.         Staff to finalize discussions with property owners (Javitch & Kralic) regarding acquisition of land north of the North Service Road.

3.         Staff to prepare a brief Trails Master Plan document, containing the information prepared by the consultants, that summarizes the rational for trail alignments and improvements that will act as a guide for (future) trail implementation.

4.         Staff to meet with Friends of Petrie Island to discuss extent of trail construction possible on a volunteer basis and the coordination of preparation of interpretive trail brochures.

5.         Staff to contact Ducks Unlimited to determine if money is available from the group to sponsor trail construction.


6.         Staff to report back to Planning Committee on Trails Master Plan document and possible trail construction for year 2000 (based on volunteer work, possible Ducks Unlimited funds and City budget). Mail out notice of the meeting to all persons on the Petrie contact list.

7.         Staff to initiate required changes to by‑laws / regulations.

8.         Exact alignment of trails and location of interpretive stations to be flagged on site by staff prior to construction.

9.          Management plan needed as part of trail implementation to ensure proper monitoring of trail use and facility maintenance is undertaken.

 

ATTACHMENTS:            

Note from Al - these are not included in the documents sent but are available

1. to 4. Concept Trail Maps.

5. to 9.  Interpretive Station / Trail Improvement Details.

10.      Sign Board Detail.

11.      MNR Comments.

12.      Ottawa Duck Club Comments.

13.       Ottawa Field Naturalists Club Comments.

14.      Dan Brunton Response Letter.

15.      Friends of Petrie Island Comments.

 

Response to the Proposed Trail Designs' Interpretive Trail Theme

 and Draft Environmental Inventory

             By The Ottawa Field Naturalists' Club

Conservation Committee 17 January, 2000

 

The Ottawa Field Naturalists* Club (OFNC) offers the following comments on the proposed trail design and layout, interpretive signage and draft Environmental Assessment.

 

DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT On the whole we find the report well conceived and responsive to the environmental values of the Petrie Islands. We would like to ensure that that section of the island west of the causeway and south of the sand operation, described as Maple Mineral Deciduous Swamp and Mineral Deciduous Swamp maintain its designation as one of the Representative Ecologically Significant Areas (Figure 20). The recently built trail which runs along the eastern edge of this section has already wrought some changes but we believe that the rest of this area should not be considered for intensive recreational purposes.

 

TRAIL DESIGN AND LAYOUT

It is encouraging  that the consultants acknowledge the ecological sensitivity of the Petrie Islands, and in particular the diversity of significant plant species present. Given this, we expect trails and interpretive signage to be located away from sensitive areas, respecting the environmental values of the site.

 

Location of Trails


While we concur with Brunton (p. 65) that "only passive, non‑motorized (pedestrian) travel is ecologically appropriate on land beyond the physically disturbed portion of Petrie Island...@,we do have major reservations about some of the proposed new trails. In particular we are very concerned with the potential loop trail which will cut through the hackberry stand and wind back across the south side of Turtle Pond. Our primary concern is that a trail, even a narrow, "low impact" one will lead lo degradation of tills site. In particular we arc concerned that vegetation trampling and soil compaction from increased pedestrian traffic in this area will not only affect the hackberry stand (trampling of hackberry seedlings, thus compromising the ability of the stand to regenerate), but all of the unusual plants which grow in this habitat. While a trail may channel the majority of visitors through the area, deliberately opening up the hackberry stand to incursion could conceivably lead to creation of multiple footpaths and subsequent damage as outlined above. We would rather "be safe than sorry".

 

Another concern with this proposed loop is the potential for disturbance to nesting turtles and

birds. At present only very small numbers of people explore the south side of the Turtle Pond. We feel that the increased traffic in and degradation of this area will result in increasing invasions of alien plant species further diminishing the suitability of the habitat for wildlife and rare plant species. As an example, purple loosestrife which is common along the north side of Turtle Pond where the traffic is, is rare on the south side, as it is rare on the south side of North Island where the cardinal flower is most abundant. Away from the shore glossy buckthorn will gain a greater foothold in the hackberry stands displacing native shrubs and seedlings as well as other significant plant species.

 

We understand the appeal of having a loop trail, rather than making visitors return the way they came. But we question whether this is important enough given the potential for damage to the ecological integrity of the site as discussed above.

 

Bicycle usage

From our own observations it is evident that bicycle usage could inflict damage on some of the more sensitive vegetation, compromising the important environmental features. Mountain bikes in particular, with the propensity of the riders for off‑trail travel can be very damaging. We would prefer to see main trail on the North and West Island entirely off limits to bicycles. We agree with Brunton(p.65) that "11'7~ more intensive recreational uses (picnic areas, major interpretive signage, bicycling facilities, etc.) could not be undertaken in the relatively pristine J; upstream areas of North, West, Centre and South Islands without significant ecological impact"

 

We anticipate that the trails will be sited accordingly, but urge that new trail development proceed with caution.

 

Trail width and composition

We are also pleased to note that the trail width as shown in the maps produced by Thakar Associates, in many cases docs not exceed 0.5m in width. We would, however, prefer to see the primary island trail have a width not exceeding 1m rather than the 1.5 m proposed. We feel that this is wide enough to allow comfortable walking but not so wide that it impinges on the natural greenscape of the island.

 


Trail surfaces can be intrusive or benign, and we prefer to see the trails remain much as they are now, natural and hard‑packed by wear, with perhaps the slight widening indicated above. Given the flood conditions on the site, most traditional surfacing materials would not anyway be appropriate, as indicated in Brunton (p.66).

 

The old cottage road in the development area at the northeast end of the islands provides a wide wheelchair‑accessible trail that is several hundred meters long. This could be maintained in the present condition to provide a hard surface trail available to everyone, without any further impact on the natural features of the islands. It gives excellent viewing of the hackberry forests to the south of Turtle Pond as well as wildlife viewing in the Pond. Interpretive signage and initiatives taking place here will be available to all visitors and will not further impact on the most delicate habitats on the islands

 

Recreational facilities

We agree that passive recreational facilities (picnic areas, shelters, toilets, and signage) such as those already implemented by the Friends of Petrie Island can be safely accommodated in the area of the East Island adjacent to the‑sand extraction operation, However, we are concerned that other recreational facilities may be thought suitable for this section because of the already degraded nature of the sand extraction operation and adjacent land. We reiterate again our opposition to the location of a marina or any such facility on the Petrie Islands. The spillover effect from such facilities can be extremely negative on the ecological values of the rest of the island.

 

We believe that a canoe and kayak route could be an interesting addition lo exploring the natural values of the islands, so long as disruption of nesting wetland birds is not a factor.

 

INTERPRETIVE SIGNAGE

We concur with the proposed themes and messages as outlined in the plan for interpretive signage, and have no concerns about this.

 

We would suggest, if resources and personnel permit, the addition of seasonal signage. This could be as simple as a plexiglass covered bulletin board containing information of a seasonal nature changed 3 (or 4) times a year.  Leaflets such as the brochures produced by the FOPI on birds and on the island's ecology would be a useful addition. For the main trail on the North Island a self‑guiding trail brochure highlighting significant features might also be considered with small, non‑intrusive, numbered posts along the trail corresponding to numbers in the brochure, Visitors could be encouraged to return the brochures (rather than throwing them in the garbage) if they do not wish to keep them.

 

In sum, we are pleased with the Environmental Assessment and with the exception of our concerns outlined above, with the provisional trails and plans for interpretive signs as given in both the Brunton report and the maps produced by Thakar Associates.

 

Thank you for allowing us to express our comments.