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Monday, 14 September 2020

shrooms, toadstools, no ATVs and peace and quiet at Callaghan's Rapids

I visited Callaghan's last Saturday morning from 10 AM to a bit after noon. I hadn't planned to visit, as I'm concerned about confrontations, esp. as I've had one or two in the past, but then curiosity got the better of me : ) First I picked up what little garbage remains in the parking lot - only some cigarette packages and a couple of crushed cans. I was the only person or vehicle inn the lot. Then I walked the path to the bridges, and again there was basically no trash, just lots of mushrooms and toadstools on full display. One ATV passed me when I climbed the bank from the 'illegal' EOTA parking lot, and they stayed on the trail as we casually waved to each other.

The bridges were completely uninhabited. It was a beautiful early fall morning, so I'd expected at least some visitors, but word of mouth must have spread quickly about the OPP ticketing campaign last weekend! I sat on the east end of the bridges for 10 or 15 minutes, enjoying nature as I used to be able to do in the distant past without the buzz of annoying ATVs. 

After the break I walked down the bank to the river, and again almost no trash anywhere. There was the deserted cowling of an ATV, but that was beyond my means of carrying out. The river is really low now, and I walked the bank to the second beach or trail area where there's an old campsite. Again no trash! I walked further downstream to the middle trail back to the parking lot, when I heard a couple of ATVs zipping through the woods on the trail to the rapids. Fortunately I didn't encounter them.

When I got to the parking lot after my hour plus ramble collecting a small plastic bag of garbage, a guy was reading the covid signs by the entrance. I said hello and we chatted for some time. He's a local landowner, Jeff B, who owns property adjacent to Lorrie and Callaghan's. He noticed I had my bag of garbage, and said he'd recently brought his sons to the parking lot and collected many bags of garbage. He didn't know about our Friends group, so I gave him my card with my email address. While we were chatting the other Erin arrived on bikes with her fiance and a friend (best man for their wedding next week?). I introduced Jeff to them, so perhaps they have established further contact with Jeff.

One thing I felt was missing on my visit was some kind of identifying marker, perhaps a large brightly coloured tee shirt or vest with "Friends of Callaghan's" or somesuch on it. I suspect there's at least one very capable artist in our group or larger circle who could design this. Wearing an identifying shirt or vest would inform the public that our group exists, and would also establish a conversational opening for questions about Callaghan's and our Friends group.

Let's keep up the good work, as it was so pleasant for a change visiting Callaghan's and feeling comfortable even in the bridges area.

 peace, Chris

 p.s. Jeff said there's an EXTREMELY rare fern which only grows in one place in the depths of Callaghan's forests - he's also a nature photog who was there to photo the puffballs and any of the rare orchids if they've survived the ATV onslaught

Saturday, 12 September 2020

The Retaking of Callaghan's Rapids Conservation Area

In August three years ago I had the following letter-to-the-editor published about the ongoing habitat destruction in Callaghan's Rapids Conservation Area. None of the parties responsible for the maintenance of this gorgeous natural resource took sufficient action, although large boulders were ringed around the parking lot and in the area where the trans-Canada trail bridges crosses over The Crowe River. Unfortunately many of the ATV vandals have winches on their vehicles, and many of the rocks were pulled aside and even more illegal trails were created and the river banks and even the river bed were further damaged.

Upset neighbouring cottagers and farmers and other concerned locals have finally reached the tipping point about this vandalism, habitat destruction, and garbage accumulation. Action had to be taken to save Callaghan's from complete ruin. A local group of concerned residents has formed in the past month and begun holding meetings.

We collected enough money, $750, at our second meeting on Sept. 1 in the Callaghan's parking lot to offer to pay the OPP overtime to enforce the area's regulations. The OPP was sufficiently embarrassed by this request into finally organizing patrols on the Labour Day weekend, and some 15 tickets were issued to the ATV trespassers and a couple of illegal campers. Of course it remains to be seen if enough ATVers, trash scatterers, and illegal campers were permanently scared off by the blitz, and if the OPP will continue to maintain patrols of the conservation area.

from my blog
Sunday, 20 August 2017

 Conservation Area surrendered to ATV vandals 

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 Aug. 20/17

 Dear Editors: 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)