Much of the following was published in the Sun Times, Owen Sound – Thursday, March 15, 2018.
The Owen Sound Field Naturalists have issued an “urgent” call to action in response to the Mayor of South Bruce Peninsula’s assertion that the town will till and rake Sauble Beach this spring before the endangered piping plovers return.
The 300-member group is asking people to e-mail the municipality’s council members in an effort to prevent the work, which it says would put the tiny shorebirds and long-term health of the Lake Huron beach in peril.
People are being asked to copy their e-mails to provincial officials, including those at the Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry (MNRF) and all the way up to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.
“Basically, it’s whoever you can think of that might finally influence this mayor and council to do the right thing. I honestly don’t know what else we can do other than stand in front of bulldozers and it may come to that,” Kate McLaren, president of the Owen Sound Field Naturalists’ board of directors, said in an interview Wednesday.
“We have a lot of concerned people that are just enraged by this attitude. And especially given all of the work that’s gone into plover habitat to try to keep them safe.”
Tilling the beach, she said, will remove and kill grasses and sedges that are part of dune ecology and help to stabilize the dunes and prevent erosion. The vegetation provides habitat for plovers, she said, which require grass cover to, among other things, hide from predators.
Mayor Janice Jackson told The Sun Times late last month that the town will “absolutely” be tilling the beach this spring, despite the MNRF advising against it.
The plan, she said, is to cultivate the town-owned portion of Sauble between the water’s edge and 30 feet west of the historic dunes, as per the town’s beach maintenance policy, after the ground thaws but before the plovers arrive.
Asked Wednesday about the campaign by the field naturalists group, Jackson said the town is “certainly not going to alter our position” regarding tilling the beach.
Her assertion, from her Facebook posts, is that “the tip of the beach, at Groves Point, was cleared right out by a Hiho last April. We removed all the vegetation from the last boardwalk to the breaker wall. Within days of removing the weeds and willow bushes, the Plovers landed and set up their first nest. Once they landed, we were unable to go back and remove the roots causing the growth to quickly return. It seems this MNRF map further supports the Town’s position that the Plovers will not nest on a vegetated beach. The Plovers seem to want what the majority of our community wants…. a clean beach.”
This is the furthest thing from the truth based on all science available.
This form will send emails to the Premier, the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry and the Mayor.
Protect the Piping Plover Nesting AreaRead the petition
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