Published as a letter-to-the-editor in the Central Hastings/Trent Hills News (metrolandmedia)
Thursday, Aug. 24/17 page B4, titled Callahan's Rapids under serious threat
I've been enjoying the 800 hectares of natural beauty at Callahan's Rapids Conservation Area for 28 years. The peace of mind this sanctuary always provides has given me an affordable summer vacation spot as well as a place to recover in solitude from various personal tragedies. But over the 28 years I've watched a gradual decline in its care and maintenance. When I first visited there were change and toilet facilities and waste receptacles were available. The toilets and waste bins disappeared decades ago, sadly replaced by illegal campsite fire pits filled with garbage. The three main footpaths have been 'supplemented' by a maze of rutted trails torn through the thick bush, courtesy of illegal ATV trespassers.
Seemingly Crowe Valley staff are content to sit in their air conditioned offices and surrender our once pristine conservation area to the vandals. I've never once seen a uniformed conservation officer during my dozens of visits to Callahan's Rapids. Considering it's a ten minute drive from Crowe Valley's Marmora headquarters to the conservation area, I wonder why this lack of monitoring? Ditto the OPP - never once have I seen a cop car stopping all the illegal ATVs.
Our local taxpayer dollars are being wasted while we wait for our public servants to perform their duties. The fish and birds, whose breeding areas are being destroyed, are voiceless. Ditto the frogs, toads, snakes and turtles who are having their habitat ripped up by fat and lazy ATV joyriders. There are rare orchids in the woods which are now criss-crossed by ragged trails and illegally chopped down tree stumps. Today I watched a parade of ATVs driving downstream from the Trans Canada bridges to the rapids, a distance of several kilometers. The jerks were often churning through several feet of water, and I kept hoping they'd ruin their noisy idiot machines. The senseless damage they were doing to the habitat is hard to believe.
Simple solutions: for starters I'd like to see a couple of uniformed Crowe Valley Conservation officers in the parking lot on weekends. Although they are empowered to give tickets, just their presence would cool out some of the garbage leavers and illegal campers. Our local OPP should also visit on weekends, and begin by issuing warnings for the first few weeks to the ATVers. Something has to be done soon, or we're going to lose this special spot to the vandals among us. The original donors of this sacred conservation area must be turning in their graves.
for the frogs, toads, snakes, birds, bees, fish, trees, orchids and all our other silent friends who depend on us for their preservation,
Chris Faiers (signed)
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On 2017-08-26, at 8:38 PM, Gail wrote:
Congratulations on your letter to the Editor. You echoed so many of my sentiments exactly. You know it was my neighbour's plan to create an ATV trail right in the Pines and use that old rail trail up to town. I tried contacting the municipality, the the conservation authorities but all to no avail. When Hydro decided to clear cut our roadways even though the ministry had advised us of a very rare butterfly in the Pines. Instead of trying to protect something quite rare, hydro was allowed to cut down a lot of bushes that might have been host plant for this butterfly. The kids that were racing around on ATVs were not even legally old enough to be riding on the roads.
Here are a few articles expressing similar concerns. I think we need to start a campaign Chris. Don't give me the been there done it line. We could do this.
. . . .
I've already done the first draft for an action plan which includes the creation of a Friends of Callahan's Rapids Conservation Area!
I was talking with JC yesterday, and she had a similar bad experience at CRCA. She took visiting friends there, and people were illegally camping right across the path. JC and her visitors didn't feel comfortable crossing through the campsite, even tho they knew if was wrong and illegal. So she just drove her friends home and they didn't get to enjoy the natural beauty of Callahan's : (
Also AR has had bad experiences at CRCA, and she worked there many decades ago. I think a lot of people will ally with us in getting some action on cleaning up CRCA. The Marmora & Lake Council needs to do its job ensuring our taxpayer money is being used by Crowe Valley Conservation and the OPP to enforce the rules!
It'll be interesting to see if any further letters-to-the-editor are published about the sad state of Callahan's (hmmm, hint, hint).
I'll add your email to my posting.