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Paid parking returns to help cover costs of disrespectful visitors to conservation areas

Paid parking will return to Quinte Conservation’s lands and trails to help pay for clean up due to disrespectful behaviour over the summer.

“We receive reports every day about the mistreatment of these beautiful areas,” said CAO Brad McNevin. “We have four field staff to service our properties and if all they are doing is picking up garbage and decommissioning fire pits all day, then the projects they need to be doing can’t be completed.”

Quinte Conservation owns just over 30,000 acres of land throughout the 6,000 km2 watershed. Some of those properties are conservation areas that are open for public use, and collectively make up 75 km of nature trails.

Little Bluff Conservation Area in the County was closed earlier this month for the season due to violations.

“We are pleading with visitors to be respectful of these areas. We don’t have the resources to keep up with this behaviour and if it continues, more of these places may face temporary closure.”

McNevil said that over the last few months, these protected places have faced many challenges with non-permitted activities, overuse, and overall general disrespect of the integrity of the areas.

“Visitors to conservation areas should be aware of non-permitted activities before entering and those include no camping and/or fires, no garbage dumping, no off-leash dogs, no alcohol or drug use, and no motorized vehicles on trails.”

Quinte Conservation receives funding through a variety of avenues, however the largest amount comes from municipal funding and it is used for mandated programs like flood forecasting. The authority relies heavily on donations, grants, and the paid parking program to support the conservation areas and does not have the resources to handle these challenges.

Starting Sept. 1st, paid parking will begin again at Quinte Conservation’s areas. Little Bluff will remain closed until at least Sept. 15, then will be re-evaluated.

“We were happy to give visitors an opportunity to spend time in nature during this pandemic, but with everything that has been going on, the time has come to reinstate the parking fee.”

McNevin says Quinte Conservation staff acknowledge all of the trail stewards, neighbours, and area users who have upheld the standards and taken it upon themselves to clean up after other visitors who have shown little appreciation for these outdoor spaces.

“We are so thankful to those that have taken time out of their day to keep us informed and those that have put their own safety at risk picking up a strangers trash during a world-wide pandemic so that the next visitor doesn’t have to,” he said.

Conservation lands were established with the purpose of protecting the natural ecology and the overall health of watersheds. Lands that had potential for recreational activities like hiking, birdwatching, and, picnicking are known as conservation areas. These are privately owned by conservation authorities throughout Ontario and activities, amenities, and uses vary depending on the region.

Quinte Conservation’s areas are open for public use every day (unless posted) from sunrise to sunset.

These natural spaces are not parks and shouldn’t be considered as such. Non-permitted activities can have a serious impact on plants and wildlife and can be detrimental to rare and endangered species.

Visitors are asked to stay on marked trails and keep dogs leashed, take out garbage brought in, and follow leave no trace principles. These non-permitted activities are chargeable offences under Section 29 of the Conservation Authorities Act. Those in violation of the Act may be subject to a fine.

Quinte Conservation is a community-based environmental protection agency serving 18 municipalities in the watersheds of the Moira, Napanee and Salmon Rivers and Prince Edward County.

Filed Under: Local News

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  1. Mike Rodgers says:

    As much as I regret saying a parking fee is required, I think it now is required. I would suggest for Little Bluff that a parking lot that holds say 40 cars be built at the road(CR 13), if this deems that the area is not over crowded. Charge each car $10 to park. Once full no one can enter. The money collected would pay for an attendant to be there every day. This person could monitor the area as well as document the cars Lic. encase there problem .

  2. Sandra G. Ehrenreich says:

    That is really too bad that you have to start charging again. I wish you could have started earlier during this pandemic as it has been an ongoing problem all summer. Now that the out of town people will be slowing down due to summer holidays being over, I feel like the people native to the area will be using these trails and we are going to have to pay the fees and not the “out of towners.” Therefore we are paying for their mess and what should have been their cleanup. I do not feel this is fair.

  3. Marie Powell says:

    I can understand implementing paid parking in order to finance clean-up efforts. I also think we’re extremely fortunate that so many citizens take it upon themselves to pick up after others. However, I have to ask: how can we *prevent* the garbage dumping and other illegal activities? Have any visitors been charged or fined for non-permitted activities this year?

    Obviously, pleading with the public is not enough to keep them from this destructive behaviour. Even on my private property, I have to threaten to call the police in order to get unwanted visitors to leave.

    If we allow people with no conscience or empathy to have free rein over the County, we will continue to search for reactive solutions and have our own enjoyment restricted. It’s time to start managing the numbers of visitors to these areas and take control by enforcing the laws we have in place to the fullest extent.

    Let’s put our citizens and our environment above the almighty tourist for a change. Personally, I would rather see funds directed towards monitoring and enforcement rather than cleaning up disasters after the fact.

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