Ensuring protection

Krysta Carroll
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Premier in town to sign agreement for Corduory Pond conservation area

A 200-meter buffer zone around Corduroy Pond and Little Corduroy Ponds will help protect the local environment and wildlife habitat.

In a ceremony on Friday to seal an agreement between the province and the Corduroy Brook Enhancement Association (CBEA), Grand Falls-Windsor councilor Jean Buffett-Mercer commented, “We talk about crown jewels, but we have town jewels, and I think the Corduroy Brook Trail system is one of our crown jewels.”

Premier Kathy Dunderdale was in the town Friday for the signing ceremony, to add her signature to the Conservation Plan, and a Management Unit Expansion Agreement.

In a brief address to the crowd, Premier Dunderdale reminisced about growing up in small town Newfoundland and how important the outdoors was to her as a child. She said in such a modern, changing world it’s important to have spaces like Corduroy Brook that show the true value of nature.

“All the people that are around us today have been critical in insuring that we have these beautiful places in our community where we are very close to nature and can enjoy nature, not only for ourselves, but protecting that,” she said. “As Newfoundland and Labrador is growing and expanding and becoming more urbanized all over the province it's important that we protect these kinds of areas.”

Barry Manuel, executive director of CBEA, said the agreement is significant, not just for the Corduroy Brook Enhancement Association, but residents, the people who use the trail.

 “Now what we’ll have essentially is a park area in the middle of town. If you look 15-20 years down the road when the residential areas continue to grow, and the roadways and commercial developments, the Corduroy Brook and the ponds are going to be more inside of the town’s development.”

The original stewardship agreement was signed in 1998, and protected eight hectares of wetland near the Corduroy Brook Trail system from future development and protected the wildlife habitat, Manuel explained.

At the time, he said, Ducks Unlimited was onboard, a water control structure was installed and they were just getting into the trail development.

“Since that time the town has continued to grow and particularly in recent years we’re seeing more and more commercial and residential development in the areas around the Corduroy Brook wetland, particularly the residential area up near Ivany’s Road,” Manuel said.

The board of directors of the CBEA were somewhat concerned that the development might eventually encroach on the Corduroy Brook Trail system and what they are doing there, Manuel said, so about a year ago, they started talking to the Town about their concerns.

“The Town have always agreed that the area should be protected and would be protected but we felt that we wanted to make sure that something could be done to add another layer of protection so that when there’s turnover in council, or turnover with town staff in decades to come, that someone couldn’t just waltz along and change what’s been done,” Manuel said.

“That’s where the expansion of the management unit comes in.”

The CBEA proposed that the Town include a 200-metre buffer around both Corduroy Pond and Little Corduroy Pond that would be included in the management unit so that no future development would take place and the wildlife habitat and integrity of the trail system would be protected for generations, he said.

The expansion to the management unit was adopted formally by council a couple of weeks ago.

 “These municipal stewardship agreements are basically agreements between the Town and the Province. (CBEA) is just a group that’s being the catalyst to drive this, Manuel said. “We had the signing and the Town and the Province have now not only an expanded management unit as per the stewardship agreement, but they also adopted a new Conservation Plan for Grand Falls-Windsor as well.”

Other special guests for the signing ceremony on Friday were: Health Minister Minister and Grand Falls-Windsor-Buchans MHA Susan Sullivan; town of Grand Falls-Windsor councilrs and senior staff; CBEA representatives, including board president Albert Evans, who is included in the trio of pioneers, along with Art King and Scott James, who started it all and are both still board members; representatives of Eastern Habitat Joint Venture, the group that administers the stewardship program.

Balancing act

The request for a buffer zone not mean the CBEA is against development in any way, Manuel said.

“In terms of continuing to lobby, we’ll always act as a community advocate for environmental stewardship,” he said. “We recognize that the town has to grow. The association is in favour of development, it would be silly not to be.

“But we just wanted to encourage everybody to make sure that the development occurs in a practical, reasonable manner so that you’re not infringing on . . . .the beautiful work that the Corduroy Brook Association has done since it started.”

He said the Corduroy Brook not only protects the habitat for the different wildlife that exists there, but allows people to learn more about the outdoors and environment thanks to nature camps. As well, the trail provides an opportunity to expand on local tourism potential, he said.

“If people started developing near Corduroy Pond, and houses were going up around the pond, so much for our wilderness atmosphere and the setting. That pretty much would have taken away totally from what we’ve done and what we plan on doing.”

Manuel said the CBEA is aware of development that will, and has, affected the trail system, but they just want to work co-operatively with the Town and developer to make sure when the developments occur, they can maintain the trail through town, something which has always been assured.

Councillor Buffett-Mercer is council liaison on SAM, the Stewardship Association of Municipalities.

She said there are a large number of communities in the province that have signed on to the wetland agreement and are participating in SAM.

“SAM wants to preserve the wetland, both for the flora and the fauna, and I’m really thrilled to be council’s liaison on that organization because I really believe that this is important,” Buffett-Mercer said. “This environmental aspect is important.”

There is a sign up in the East end of town declaring Grand Falls-Windsor is a member of SAM and protecting its wetlands, she said.

“This year we increased our boundaries,” she said, adding she’s glad the Town is partnering with SAM and the CBEA to increase the wetland area.

During Friday’s ceremony she accepted a sign to place on the west end of town as well.

“Grand Falls-Windsor is perfectly centred and now with a sign on the east and the west, we’ll be better balanced,” Buffett-Mercer said.




Organizations: Corduroy Brook Enhancement Association, Stewardship Association of Municipalities.She, Ducks Unlimited Conservation Plan for Grand Falls-Windsor

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Grand Falls

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