Our project began in 2010 and the long-term goal is to place rolling boardwalks on all pathways over the dunes in the park. In Spring of 2010, The Friends received funding to
purchase materials to build rolling boardwalks. The boardwalks were then constructed by volunteers and rolled out over three dune pathways in order to protect the dunes from human impact over the busy spring and summer seasons. The boardwalks were then rolled up during the off-peak periods (fall and winter) to allow the underlying dunes to naturally ebb and flow under normal dynamic fluctuations, Educational dune protection signage was ordered and was erected in key locations. (to read text on sign - click on image for larger file). These signs will educate visitors about the fragile dune ecology, and explain why it is so important to use the boardwalks to avoid, as much as possible, disturbing the dune environment.
Importance of the Project
Within Ontario there are few remaining dune ecosystems making it particularly important to sustain and protect the dunes and vegetation located in Pinery Park. Human activity on the dunes damages the protective vegetation, which in turn leads to damaging erosion. We need boardwalks in order to allow visitors to access the beach through the sensitive dune environments with less impact to the ecosystem. Rolling boardwalks help to preserve and protect our sand dunes and the surrounding vegetation from erosion and human impact. Vegetation such as Pitcher's Thistle (an endangered species), Yellow Puccoon and Bearberry depend on the sand dunes and their extreme climate to thrive. Without a protective blanket of vegetation and the use of boardwalks, sand dunes would soon become nonexistent.
The primary objective of the project is to increase the sustainability of the sand dunes and to protect the species that thrive on them. This will be accomplished by ensuring (over the long-term) that all pathways are protected by the rolling boardwalks, so as to minimize the impact of human traffic on the dunes. Thus, it will be important to construct as many rolling boardwalks as possible each year.
Sustainability will also be accomplished by ensuring, through signs and other interpretive programming, that visitors appreciate the importance of protecting and preserving the sand dunes. The aim is to have park visitors understand that they can contribute to the preservation of the sand dunes by always using the boardwalks and by not disturbing the dune vegetation .
In 2011 the Friends of Pinery Park continued the Rolling Boardwalk Project. With the financial contributions from our sponsors we purchased materials to construct additional rolling boardwalks which will be placed over unprotected dune pathways.
In total, over the three volunteer building sessions we held this year, we constructed 72 - 16 foot sections of boardwalk.
Benefits of the Project
Pinery Provincial Park is visited by thousands of people annually, and many of these people come to enjoy the beautiful beaches. The use of rolling boardwalks on all dune pathways will permit these visitors to continue accessing the beaches with less impact to the sensitive ecosystem.
Volunteers who assist in constructing the boardwalks gain a greater appreciation for dune protection and derive benefit from their involvement in this important resource management project.
Rolling boardwalks allow people with reduced locomotive ability to more easily access dune and beach environments.
Volunteers consist of Friends of Pinery Park members, interested individuals in the community and park visitors. Volunteers assist in clearing debris to install the boardwalks, obtaining construction materials and constructing the boardwalks. Volunteers may also be involved in maintenance of the boardwalks. Volunteering in this project can provide the following benefits: a feeling of contributing to an important local environmental initiative (think globally, act locally!), the opportunity to meet other individuals who have a similar interest in the environment and the opportunity to work as a team.The community within the park and within surrounding areas will benefit from this project because the protection of dunes will help to preserve beaches, for enjoyment now and in years to come.