The Rideau Waterway Land Trust announced on Monday, May 25, 2020 that hikers will be able to access the trails of two of their beloved reserves this coming weekend.
Beginning on Saturday, May 30, 2020, the trails of the Rock Dunder and JH Fullard Nature Reserves will be open to the public. The Rideau Waterway Land Trust did not open its community lands to hikers on Friday, May 15, 2020 as it usually would annually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to those with the Land Trust, those two extra weeks have provided them time to coordinate actions with government and health guidelines, as well as those guidelines being used by other conservation organizations. The time also allowed the Land Trust to develop and implement new safety protocols to protect staff, volunteers, and visitors. New signage is currently being put in place to clarify the new rules.
According to the Rideau Waterway Land Trust, at Rock Dunder on Stanley Lash Lane, the trails are now one way – clockwise on the ‘Summit Loop’ and counter-clockwise on the ‘Morton Bay Loop’ – allowing the two metre physical distancing guidelines to be adhered to.
Additionally, visitors are now asked to wear masks when interacting with staff and volunteers; this applies primarily to drivers of vehicles arriving at the trailhead during check in.
Because it is not feasible for staff and volunteers to sanitize the washroom facilities (vault privies) at Rock Dunder, they are closed for the 2020 season. According to the Rideau Waterway Land Trust, this closure has pertinent for visitors, as it is imperative that used toilet paper not be left in the woods.
“Animals dig it up and scatter it, creating potentially hazardous conditions for staff and volunteers,” the Rideau Waterway Land Trust said in a press release on Monday, May 25, 2020. “This and all other trash is to be bagged and taken out by the hiker. There is no waste disposal of any kind permitted on site.”
At the JH Fullard side on Davis Lock Road, the grassed trails are being mowed wider where possible to help facilitate physical distancing requirements.
At both sides, benches and other structures will not be sanitized throughout the 2020 season. Additionally, it may be necessary for the Land Trust to implement further protocols as the season moves forward and the effectiveness of the current protocols is evaluated. Trail users are encouraged to visit the Rideau Waterway Land Trust website for new information.
“We understand the need for outdoor recreation opportunities during these stressful times,” the Rideau Waterway Land Trust Board of Directors said, noting that they wish everyone a safe and healthy summer. “The new procedures are designed to protect everyone, as well as the sensitive environmental features on the properties, while still allowing hikers an opportunity to experience nature.”
For more information on these sites, the Rideau Waterway Land Trust, or to keep abreast of updated protocols, visit the Rideau Waterway Land Trust website at www.rwlt.org.