Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC), a long-time partner of Ontario Parks has extended a helping hand to Sandbanks Provincial Park.
Sandbanks is best know for its sand dunes and golden beach, but there is another, lesser- known side to the park.
Several hundred years ago, much of Sandbanks was mature forest. Settlers cleared vast sections of forest to build and plant crops. In a mature forest, when large trees fall, they leave behind a pit where the roots were. The root mass slowly breaks down creating a mound of dirt beside the pit.
These pits and mounds are vital to the healthy biodiversity of a forest. In spring the pits fill with water providing habitat for plants and breeding grounds for reptiles and amphibians. The mounds themselves create natural environments for a number of plants and wildlife. Areas that have been cleared or ploughed eliminate this natural succession of pits and mounds.
In an attempt to increase the wooded area within Sandbanks, an experiment is being conducted between the Woodlands Campground and County Road #18. The park will attempt to re-create this natural form of succession by scooping out large amounts of dirt to make pits and then placing the dirt to form mounds.
A variety of seedlings will be planted and park staff will monitor the project, recording the growth and types of plants and wildlife that return to the area. The Friends of Sandbanks will be at the Ottawa MEC store on March 14th and 15th promoting this reforestation project. Customers will be able to â€œpurchaseâ€ a seedling to be planted this spring. By purchasing three or more seedlings the Friends of Sandbanks will be issuing free memberships and a discount at their park store.
In continuing support of the project, MEC in Toronto and Ottawa jointly raffled off a complete camping package for two, worth $1000.00! MEC has also funded other Ontario Parks projects such as wolf research in Algonquin, water quality research in Killarney and Karner Blue butterfly habitat research in Pinery.
Ontario Parks sends a big thank you to Mountain Equipment Co-op and their customers for supporting such valuable research projects.