Campaign Chronicle : A2A Corridor
The starting point for the A2A corridor is, of course, in beautiful Algonquin Park, Ontario. Over the next two years a major highway (Highway 60) which runs through this vital corridor will be repaired and repaved. We believe that this will provide for an excellent opportunity for the province to mitigate some of the many barriers this highway creates for the flow of wildlife within Algonquin Park and into the A2A corridor. Several members of CPAWS-OV, including Executive Director John McDonnell, visited the stretch of Highway 60 through the Park in late May to identify specific actions for the consideration of the Ontario Ministries of Natural Resources and the Environment.
One of the key recommendations being proposed is the replacement of existing culverts (under-road drainage channels) with larger diameter ones to improve safe access and passage for some of the larger mammals. These culverts should also be aligned more strategically with the surrounding area, to make it easier for smaller creatures to get in and out. The addition of landscaping inside the culverts will also make them appear like more of a natural terrestrial link for traveling species.
The creation of overpasses such as those that exist in Parks in Banff and Jasper are also a consideration, although higher costs could be prohibitive. However, some areas were identified as an ideal location where underpasses could be easily created and sustained. In fact, Mr. McDonnell estimates that the cost of all CPAWS' recommendations would potentially be less than 10% of the cost of the highway reconstruction budget.
Part of the highway reconstruction also identified two bridges in need of improvements. These improvements would include more natural landscaping, placing in the surrounding area large broken rocks (which has been noted to especially impede the progress and mobility of smaller wildlife) and introducing native vegetation closer to the bridges, which will also serve to prevent land erosion.
The highway reconstruction project will include the addition of paved shoulders. While this may be a boon to cyclists and a help to motorists, it is a serious threat to Algonquin's turtle population, which seek out the loose gravel at the side of roads for nesting purposes. The addition of "artificial gravel beds" in some locations might be a suitable method of addressing this important issue. As well additional signage warning motorists of turtle and other wildlife travel will also be beneficial.
Construction is set to begin this year at the west gate of the Park and be completed by next year, at the East gate. CPAWS has submitted its recommendations to the Ministry and will ensure to keep our readers posted as to what decisions are made. If you wish to voice your opinion or support CPAWS and help ensure that this reconstruction project takes into consideration the necessity for wildlife that lives and travels in this vicinity, please contact us or the Ontario Ministries of Natural Resources and the Environment.
Meanwhile, if you are traveling that route this year, keep your eyes open for turtles and other wildlife crossing the road.