Conservation areas begin re-opening in the Kawartha watershed

Conservation areas have begun re-opening across the Kawartha watershed.

The gates at Windy Ridge Conservation Area re-opened Thursday (May 14) in time for the long weekend, while Ken Reid Conservation Area will be open to visitors on Tuesday (May 19).

“We understand and appreciate how much our community values our greenspaces,” said Kristie Virgoe, director of stewardship and conservation lands for Kawartha Conservation.

“Our staff have worked tirelessly to be able to get our conservation areas ready to be able to open for passive use, ensuring appropriate measures are in place to protect the health and safety of staff and visitors.”

Preparations have included:

  • Checking many kilometres of trails for hazards and safety concerns.
  •  Installing safe social distancing signage
  • Performing enhanced maintenance and cleaning operations.

Staff are continuing to complete work at Durham East Cross Forest, Pigeon River Headwaters and Fleetwood Creek and details on their re-opening will be announced in the coming weeks.

“This has not been an easy time for any of us,” Virgoe said.

“We cannot express our thanks and appreciation enough for the patience and understanding shown to us by the community during this difficult time. We are thrilled to be able to re-open our conservation areas and know the public has missed them just as much as we have.”

Ms. Virgoe explained that even after conservation areas re-open, it won’t be business as usual, as visitors will be asked to be extra vigilant in obeying the rules and being respectful of other park users.

“We’re asking people to make sure they are practicing social distancing, staying 6 feet apart, making sure pets are on a leash at all times and that visitors take any garbage with them when they leave,” she said.

“We are all adjusting to the current situation and the only way through this is together, so I’m asking everyone to be patient and to be respectful so we can all enjoy our conservation area experiences again.”

The off-leash dog park, playground area, viewing platform and washroom facilities will remain closed for the time being while staff continue to develop plans to safely and responsibly re-open additional amenities.

“Our main goal is getting our conservation areas open for passive trail use so members of the public can enjoy all of the benefits of nature,” Virgoe said.

“As we continue to re-open our conservation areas, we will turn our attention to how best to re-open additional amenities for visitors. This is just the first step in being able to serve our communities and visitors safely and responsibly.”

There has been no update from the Lake Simcoe Conservation Authority on when its conservation areas will re-open to the public.

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