By Donna Stewart, Friends of Oliphant Coastal Environments
The Ontario Lake Huron community of Oliphant on the shores of the Bruce Peninsula is the summer playground of permanent residents, summer cottagers, islanders and day visitors. The shoreline is enjoyed by swimmers, boaters, kayakers, kiteboarders, windsurfers, walkers, naturalists and all terrain vehicle users. Decreasing lake levels are creating wider, more accessible beaches. Patterns of shoreline use that have remained relatively static for decades are changing dramatically. The number of vehicles, routes of access and range of recreational activities enjoyed here are increasing and changing. Increased damage to the environment is a concern. Friends of Oliphant Coastal Environments was founded as a result of conversations between user groups. Rather than sitting by and watching the damage take place, we decided to be part of the solution. One thing that we all have in common is our love for this incredible place. We want to see that the very unique and beautiful shoreline that draws us here, remains so for many years to come. A focus group embarked on a process of collaborative problem solving. We included the voice of permanent residents, summer cottagers, islanders and individuals who use the shoreline for a variety of purposes. We further informed ourselves and created an important link with the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation. We quickly found common ground in our mutual love for the unique, sensitive and rare Oliphant coastline ecosystems and their features. The fen, alvar, and beach/grassland environments are what connect so many of us to this magical place. Our vision is the preservation of Oliphant’s natural coastal environments. We value crystal clean water, protection of the environment, the use of collaborative planning, and blending the needs of people for recreational purposes or access to property along the coast with sensitive area protection. We intend to realize our vision through understanding and education, controlled access for recreational purposes, maintaining the natural state, and stewardship of the area. We are working to develop partnerships with organizations that share similar goals and related concerns and have invited the involvement of groups who will contribute to our success. This has included the town of South Bruce Peninsula, the Owen Sound Field Naturalists, the Oliphant Camper’s Association, the Ontario Kiteboarding Association and First Nations. It is only through collaboration that we can come up with the best possible solutions.
We are delighted with the support of Freshwater Future to develop our organization’s capacity over the next year. The grant we have been awarded and the support of the mentorship program will allow us to further develop our membership, communicate more effectively through a website, provide literature, hold public meetings and work strategically towards our goal of having a management plan or stewardship guide developed for our community by The Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation in 2009. Friends of Oliphant Coastal Environment are attempting to adapt to the changes in the environment, human activity and transportation technology that are impacting our shoreline. We are striving to respond to that threat by working together to find common sense solutions that respect the rights of all to access, but more carefully and intentionally balance recreational use with sensitive area protection.
For more information, please contact:
Friends of Oliphant Coastal Environments
297 Shoreline Ave., Box 12, RR#3,
Wiarton, ON N0H 2T0 Canada