progress at bayfield river flats exceeds expectations
About 30 people from Bayfield joined eight members of the Stratford Field Naturalists (SFN) for a hike through the Bayfield River Flats on May 9, 2017. (Photo by Jack Pal)
During the autumn of 2016, almost a quarter of the population of the Village of Bayfield donated to a fundraising campaign to purchase the 4.75-acre plot of land on the river, to the immediate southeast of the bridge, known as the Bayfield River Flats. Community-minded people donated from all over North America, including families who cherish this small village and who recognized that this would probably be the last opportunity to ensure that the public would always have access to the river.
The property had fallen into disrepair before ownership finally passed to the Huron Tract Land Trust Conservancy (HTLTC) in December 2016. Last winter, the Bayfield River Valley Trail Association (BRVTA) management team, who have a 10-year management agreement to look after the property, thought that it would take a couple of years to clean things up. Old boat cradles, machinery, and rubbish were strewn all over the property and dead and dying trees posed a potential risk to everyone who dared walk on the paths.
Doug Vanderhaar volunteered to clean up the ‘Flats’ with his equipment.
Vanderhaar also arranged to have crews from Kornaker Construction come to cut up and transport a large old rusted-out barge that had been sitting in the mud for decades, at no cost. Approximately 30 tons of steel was removed.
Doug Vanderhaar arranged to have crews from Kornaker Construction come to cut up and transport a large old rusted-out barge at no cost. (Submitted photo)
Vanderhaar not only removed all of the abandoned junk, he started implementing a plan that landscape architect, Kim McCabe, had developed and donated. A disused parking lot was reopened and Vanderhaar donated and installed barriers that were positioned to prevent vehicles from creating more erosion problems on the riverbank and pathways. The entire project was done in conjunction with Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) staff for approval of work in the floodplain.
Tenders were called to clear the dead and dying trees and John Vanderhaar, the owner of Bayfield Tree Service, was the successful bidder. Bayfield Tree Service far exceeded all expectations and they not only cut down all of the dangerous trees, they did an enormous amount of chipping so that all the paths are now covered in wood chips.
An Arborist from the ABCA, Ian Jean, visited the ‘Flats’ and recommended the species of trees that would work best in that environment. With the financial help of a grant from Sourcewater Protection, and Hank Vander Velde’s equipment, dozens of new trees were planted to replace the ones that had been removed. Thanks also to Steve Bowers and Don Farwell from the HTLTC for their expertise in forestry and birding. Farwell brought the Stratford Field Naturalists for a day and 37 bird species were identified in 90 minutes!
Near a newly created kayak and canoe launch, a large patch of Giant Hogweed was professionally sprayed to ensure that this invasion species was controlled.
The Municipality of Bluewater donated six picnic tables that were surplus from Clan Gregor Square.
Negotiations with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO), regarding the impact on the River Flats during construction of a new Bayfield Bridge are ongoing. Final plans have not been presented nor have any substantive negotiations taken place. Although final bridge plans have not been revealed, the owners of the property, the HTLTC, have received a letter from the Minister of Transportation, which gave assurances that if at all possible, a safe walkway under the bridge would be incorporated into the final design.
The most startling discovery about the Bayfield River Flats, aside from the beavers who make it their permanent home, has been the number of anglers from all over Southwestern Ontario, who consider this to be the prime regional fishing destination. People are encouraged to check out some of the ‘YouTube’ videos about Bayfield fishing, those who do so will be surprised how highly this small village is rated throughout Ontario.
Apart from fishermen, the Bayfield River Flats has seen considerable community use by naturalists, community groups, Girl Guides, families and hikers.
Thanks to the BRVTA Trail Blazer work crews lead by Peter Jeffers and village volunteers who have stepped up to improve this very special part of Bayfield, the Bayfield River Flats Natural Area is a special place now and will be even better in future.
For more information visit HTLTC.ca or Bayfieldtrails.com.
Old boat cradles and machinery were littered all over the River Flats. (Submitted photo)
life at the rink
People are never too old to lace up their skates and take to the ice for “Canada’s Game” and members of the community are invited to come out and watch two games at the Bayfield Arena this week.
The Bayfield Relics have home ice advantage against the Goderich Lakeport tonight (Jan. 3) at 8:30 p.m.
The Bayfield Relics are an Oldtimers Hockey Team that was founded in 1987. Their home ice is the Bayfield Arena. The Relics play their season schedule versus teams from Huron and Middlesex Counties.
Tomorrow night (Jan. 4) it is time for some over 50 hockey as the Exeter 50+ visit Bayfield at 8 p.m. to take on their rivals, the Bayfield 50+ hockey team.
Those in the community with an interest in the future of the Bayfield Arena may wish to attend the next meeting of the Bayfield Complex Feasibility Study Working group that will be held tomorrow (Jan. 4) at the Bayfield Lions’ Community Building.
The public is invited to attend this meeting that will begin at 5:15 p.m. To view the agenda visit: bit.ly/21hoOAk.
Familes looking for a fun winter activity over the Christmas Break should consider taking a spin around the ice at the Bayfield Arena.
The doors will be open on Jan. 3 and Jan. 4, noon to 2 p.m.; and Jan. 5, 10:30 a.m. to noon.
One Care is hosting blood pressure monitoring and measurement as part of the Cardiovascular Health Awareness Program (CHAP) in Bayfield.
The goal of CHAP is to promote cardiovascular health in the local community and to raise awareness about the importance of blood pressure monitoring. CHAP is a free service providing a reliable screen and follow up through a program based out of McMaster University. To learn more visit - chapprogram.ca.
Trained volunteers will help participants measure their blood pressure and complete a heart and stroke risk profile. A copy of these results will be given to the participant and, with their permission, sent to their family physician if they are participating in the program.
The sessions run from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month, at Pharmasave Michael's Pharmacy. (Please note date and time change.) First visits require an onsite registration.
Contact One Care for more information at 1-877-502-8277.
One of the most anticipated events of the New Year is the annual Winter Walk hosted by the Bayfield River Valley Trail Assocation (BRVTA). This year the walk held on the Varna Nature Trails is set for Jan. 13.
The Winter Walk that starts at 11 a.m. provides occasion to breathe fresh air, explore a local trail, meet community members and get moving into 2018. The Winter Walk is hosted at the Varna Complex 1 KM West of Varna. Guided hikes are led between 11 a.m. and noon along the Mavis Trail or Taylor Trail.
Following the hikes, everyone is invited to warm up indoors with cider and hotdogs. This is also a great opportunity for people to renew their BRVTA membership! Everyone welcome.
DINE FOR HOSPICE
Beat the winter blues and lift your spirits by getting together with your friends and neighbors for a special three-course gourmet dinner at Renegades Diner, in support of the new Huron Residential Hospice.
On Tuesday, Jan. 23 and Wednesday, Jan. 31st, Wayne McDougall and Paula Foley, the owners of Renegades, will open their restaurant especially for these fundraising events.
Book a table for this celebration with members of your book club, hiking group, bridge club, or just good friends and neighbors and shake off those seasonal blahs.
Dinner will be served between 5 and 8 p.m. on either day and you can make reservations with Renegades for a seating time. The menu will consist of either a salad or soup, chicken cordon bleu (Jan. 23) or a French cut pork chop for the (Jan. 31), followed by a choice of delicious dessert. A vegetarian option will also be available.
Buy your tickets at Renegades Diner between Jan. 12 and 21. The price per person is $50 in advance or $55 at the door, either cash or cheque payable to Huron Residential Hospice. As an extra bonus, each ticket holder will receive a gift certificate from Renegades as well.
Enjoy some good company, great food and help support the creation of a much- needed Hospice.