Writer unhappy with walkway situation
Saturday, Aug 09, 2014 06:00 am
A response to the Gazette’s Saturday Aug. 2 ‘Environment File.’
With the risk of not being politically correct I feel compelled to vent my frustration with the continued closure of the John E. Poole wetland boardwalk during the months of June, July and now well into August.
As a self-proclaimed naturalist I am very much aware of the reasons. If the black tern species is really on the "sensitive" list closing of the boardwalk (because four or five pairs nest there) is not going to prevent the species from becoming "endangered" or worse. There are other factors at play, one of them the disappearing wetlands. When the Poole family donated $1 million to Ducks Unlimited Canada to built this boardwalk through the wetland, I for one was not much in favour of the idea. However, it became a reality. It did not take me very long to adjust to the fact that I could now actually walk through the wetland and enjoy the wildlife from within, so to speak.
Unfortunately Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation deemed it necessary to close the boardwalk because the terns are "attacking" people. This is common behaviour for colonial species like gulls and terns. In early July I checked the ribbon situation and hooray, they were gone. I walked on and was rewarded to see the eggs of the "bad" tern closest to the boardwalk had hatched and was happy to be able to take some photographs. Later that same day I was told by a friend that the boardwalk was actually not open.
Why did I think it was open? Well normally the culprits rip off yellow plastic ribbons and dump it somewhere in the grass. This time it was done professionally and even the stapled on notice was gone. New ribbons were strung across the entrance and new notices were once again stapled onto the railing stating closed until the end of the month. Which month? Very clever wording. Perhaps a sign telling people what is going on and to "Enter at your own risk" would be sufficient.
By closing it you get the undesirables going there anyway and leaving the empty beer cans in the marsh. Nobody to see them do it. I could go on and on but hope the Alberta Parks officials leave it accessible to us birdwatchers, photographers and other people who like to enjoy this boardwalk the way it was meant to be even when the terns are aggressively defending their territory which prompts us to keep on walking. The last time I checked the ribbon closure was two days before the end of July and they were gone again only to be put back up the next day again now until mid August.
But then again I am only a mere little naturalist and not a full-fledged biologist employed by the Alberta government.
Ludo Bogaert, St. Albert