Manitoulin Nature Club weighs in on Wagg’s Wood sale

Let’s not tear down precious environments

To the Expositor:

The Manitoulin Nature Club (MNC) would like to express its concerns regarding the recent sale and razing of a parcel of Wagg’s Woods for commercial interests. While we understand the need for economic development, we would like to remind council members that a community’s well-being is not measured solely in economic terms and that Manitoulin’s environmental riches are also an important resource for the well-being of its inhabitants and the enjoyment of its visitors. It is our belief, however, that Wagg’s Park does provide financial benefits to the municipality by being an important attraction for people who enjoy hiking and other nature activities. It has been noted in This is Manitoulin and the LaCloche Region as well as Discover Us. It is also included in the booklet “Manitoulin Trails” which is available at local tourist information offices. In view of the growing popularity of this sector of tourism, the decision to destroy a critical portion of this park seems very short-sighted.

Wagg’s Woods is an irreplaceable resource that should be valued as one of Central Manitoulin’s most important assets. As well as escarpment terrain, it includes a seasonal stream and flood plain that winds through a mature hardwood forest. A recent survey by the MNC conducted as part of the Notable Trees Project identified more than 20 species of trees along the Wagg’s Woods trail. One venerable Yellow Birch has been designated as a Notable Tree of Manitoulin.

This type of forest has become increasingly rare on Manitoulin Island; nowhere but in Mindemoya is such a superb example of one freely accessible from the main street of town. It supports a diverse animal and plant population that attracts birdwatchers, wild flower and fern experts, geologists and other nature lovers, as well as frequent school groups. The dry stream-bed is literally paved with fossils. Several plant species found here, such as bloodroot, blue cohosh, squirrel corn, Dutchman’s breeches, lopseed, Jack-in-the-pulpit and nodding trillium are rare elsewhere on Manitoulin Island; Wagg’s Woods is also the only location where the Moonseed vine grows on the Island. These are all shade-loving plants, and the opening up of a section of forest right up to the edge of the stream bed will seriously alter the environment and have a significant impact on these populations.

Tearing down precious environments such as these is much easier than recovering them. The Manitoulin Nature Club sincerely hopes that this recent action by the Central Manitoulin Council is not a precedent that will see a further whittling away of our natural heritage. We would be pleased to meet with council to help develop a plan that would allow us to work together to better manage our natural areas. Several of our members have already expressed a willingness to volunteer in improving and maintaining trails. We are confident that we can find a way to work together for the benefit of all Manitoulin residents and visitors.

Sincerely,

John Smith, president

Marcel Bénéteau, vice-president

Manitoulin Nature Club