On November 26th and 27th a number of local students and residents accepted Ontario Parks’ invitation to assist with dune restoration. This included beach grass planting and barrier fence installation in Beach Areas 1 and 2 of Wasaga Beach Provincial Park. It was cool overcast weather but thanks to the students from Stayner Collegiate Institute and local residents, many hands made light work.
Dune rehabilitation takes place in autumn once the plants have become dormant, ensuring a higher chance of survival during transplantation. Once planted the marram grass begins to collect sand around its base, this in turn stimulates its growth upward and outward, making it well suited for the ever-changing dunes system to which it has adapted itself.
In 1996 the first dune restoration project with marram grass planting took place at the east end of Beach Area 1. Over that past 20 years, literally tons of sand have been trapped by the grass and saved from “simply blowing away”. Today a beautiful sand dune over ten feet in height exists as a result of a few hours of work by Park staff and volunteers.
Each year, as more sections of the beach undergo dune restoration work, we are better able to protect the shoreline and promote native species diversity, providing habitat for a number of endangered species on the shores of Wasaga Beach.
Karen Alexander an Ontario Parks biologist who coordinated the planting sums up the significance of dune restoration at Wasaga Beach with these words: “Wasaga Beach is the longest freshwater coastal dune ecosystem in the world. Think about that for a moment, the world is an enormous display of diversity and Wasaga Beach holds first place for freshwater beaches. If that doesn’t encourage a sense of responsibility, you will have to tell me what will! Wise stewardship of Wasaga Beach is everyone’s responsibility; this includes helping out with restoration projects when they are required.”
Thank you to all the volunteers that helped out in 2015 and stay tuned for our 2016 projects.