While Central Lake Ontario Conservation has staff dedicated to managing our Conservation Areas, we cannot be there all the time, so in come our CATS volunteers!
This January, we launched the Conservation Area Trail Stewards (CATS) Program as a pilot project to improve the experiences for our visitors, as well as the six-legged, four-legged, no-legged and winged creatures who all call Lynde Shores Conservation Area home.
Identified by their yellow 'Volunteer' vests, we now have nine trained and qualified individuals who walk our trails. Each month they will visit various trails, pick up litter, report hazard trees, restock kiosk brochures, and engage visitors by sharing reminders and best practices about how to keep the area protected, and the animals safe and wild. From resisting the urge to feed our white-tail deer herd, to paying for parking, and packing out garbage, compliant visitors improve the overall health and function of this Conservation Area.
One of our CATS volunteers took these photos last weekend, noting ongoing issues we are trying to address.
Leaving seed on the Waterfront Trail is dangerous to our Conservation Area visitors, particularly cyclists, and not healthy for the Canada Geese. The geese hang around waiting for handouts, but they are quite capable of finding food for themselves. Instead, bring only a handful of sunflower seeds, feeding only songbirds, and please take home your extra seeds.
Building structures in the forests, means people are off trail, exposing themselves to risks and impacting habitat for the wildlife they have come to see. Please leave our forest understory intact. Branches and sticks on the ground provide important habitat and are naturally recycled, adding nutrients to the soil. Please stay on the trails and let nature do her thing in the forest.
If you are interested in becoming a CATS, either at Lynde Shores Conservation Area or Heber Down Conservation Area, signup online and we will send you details about our 2020 intake in September. Happy trails!