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Bruce Trail Conservancy Pleading Shelburne Community


The Bruce Trail Conservancy distributed a release urging members of the public, explicitly naming the community in the Town of Shelburne, to keep vehicles and ATVs out of the Pine River Nature Reserve.

The Conservancy reports that several people had trespassed onto and vandalized the property this past weekend, with the Ontario Provincial Police investigating the matter. Specifically, fencing, blockades, and signage were ‘destroyed.’ The activity also left the surrounding sensitive habitat damaged.

“Local volunteers have donated hundreds of hours to this project and it’s sad to see a few individuals purposely undo this important work,” says Michael McDonald, CEO of the Bruce Trail Conservancy. “We intend to press charges once the investigation is complete.”

In the statements released by the BTC, it is said that ‘devastation to property and escalating criminal behaviours have reached a critical point.’ As a result, a security presence has been established. Furthermore, the Conservancy is saying that the OPP has agreed to increase patrols of the area.

According to the Bruce Trail Conservancy website, the Pine River Nature Reserve is a 192-acre home to wetlands and forests, both known to be in danger of disappearing worldwide. Multiple ecological restoration projects are slated to take place on the Pine River Nature Reserve to intensify biodiversity and rehabilitate the ecosystem, enabled volunteering and community contributions.

“Through generous donations from within this local community the Bruce Trail Conservancy was able to purchase and permanently protect this ecologically important land.” explains McDonald. “Local residents love this place and have also raised funds to help with its restoration.”

When asked why the community in the Town of Shelburne was named specifically in the release, Elizabeth Harrington, Director of Communications and Engagement for the Bruce Trail Conservancy responded with the following.b

“Although we cannot get into specifics given there is an ongoing police investigation into the incidents, we are asking communities in close proximity to the Pine River Nature Reserve, including the Town of Shelburne to avoid any and all activities on given the details below.”

For those using the Bruce Trail this weekend, a separate release sent out by the BTC encourages ‘responsible hiking.’ This includes staying on the marked trail and parking safely and legally. Furthermore, there are reminders to be mindful of landowner property. Some portions of the course are privately owned, and negative user behaviour could affect public access in the future. Moreover, BTC leadership asks trail goers to ‘leave no trace’ and ‘take only pictures, and leave with memories.’ Lastly, hikers are encouraged to stay local when pursuing outdoor activities to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“It’s our mission to protect natural places and encourage people to explore nature’s wonders by way of the Bruce Trail.” explains McDonald. “Spending time in nature is critical for exercise and optimal mental health. Please act responsibly, with care and kindness for others, and for the environment.”

May 20, 2021, 3:25 pm: Updated with the response from The Bruce Trail Conservancy as to why the community of the Town of Shelburne was named specifically in the release.

References – Bruce Trail Conservancy Makes Plea of Shelburne Community

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