MISERY BAY—Misery Bay volunteers were recently at the provincial park, getting ready to start organizing work for the new universal access trail project, when they made an alarming discovery.
“While at Misery Bay, we noted where a person had taken an ATV and left a multitude of tracks through the vernal pool very recently, also causing some damage to our boardwalk,” a Friends of Misery Bay (FOMB) member wrote to her fellow members. “You will recall that we built a boardwalk last year to allow hikers to cross the same vernal pool without causing any damage to it. The tracks left by the ATV through the vernal pool will be visible for many decades—nature has a difficult time healing the fragile environments present at Misery.”
“At the same time we saw where somebody had taken a shotgun and blasted three of our signs that are in the vicinity of ‘Our Friends Shelter’ on the beach,” she continued. “Some of the shots appeared to have been fired right from the shelter, and the empty beer can laying beside the entrance to the shelter adds to the effect.”
“It makes one wonder if the misguided resource-abusing miscreants realize the effect of the damage,” she writes. “Monetarily, it is quite minimal, and let’s face it—in the scheme of the criminal events unfolding world-wide, actions like these do not even warrant a one on the scale of 1-10. But until we can replace the signs and nature can repair the damage to the vernal pool, all of our visitors to our park will come to one conclusion about hunters and ATV users. It will be the wrong conclusion because, as we all know, it’s not the guns and vehicles or whatever else is used to bring about the many heinous acts committed around us. It is, of course, the person(s) using them.”
“Our Friends of Misery Bay put in countless volunteer hours working at Misery and raising money to support our projects and we now have to use some of that money and more volunteer hours to repair the damage,” the volunteer adds.
John Diebolt, FOMB special projects coordinator, reminds Expositor readers that there is no motorized vehicle access to Misery Bay, except when granted by special circumstances by Ontario Parks.
“There’s no ATVs, no guns, no alcohol,” he added.
Mr. Diebolt explained that the FOMB is saddened by the actions that occurred within the last three weeks, especially due to the damage done to the vernal pool—a forest pool found on land, caused by a depression in the alvar with no drainage that attracts all kinds of interesting plants and animals.
Mr. Diebolt said the vernal pool was of such importance that Ontario Parks decreed that a boardwalk must be built atop it so as not to disturb the body of water.
“They drove right down beside the boardwalk, damaging the structure in the process, and through the vernal pool,” Mr. Diebolt added, reemphasizing, “It is very important and very unique.”
“Those ATV tracks will be there for a long time,” he continued, noting that there are other ATV tracks in a different portion of the park that have been there for over 20 years.
The damage has been reported to the two Manitoulin conservation officers as well to Ryan Gardner, park superintendent.
Mr. Diebolt noted that should the perpetrator(s) be caught, it could mean a large fine under three separate provincial acts and even confiscation.
Mr. Diebolt added that this kind of an act is a rarity and that the great majority of Misery Bay Provincial Park visitors treat the area with a great deal of respect.
Anyone with any information can call the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry TIPS line at 1-877-847-7667.