« Today we’ve made a dream of many a reality, » said David Piccini, minister of conservation, conservation and parks, during a Thursday afternoon press conference at the trailhead of the Alfred Bog Walk.
Stéphane Sarrazin, MPP for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell and former mayor of Alfred-Plantagenet Township, expressed his satisfaction with the new status for the local natural heritage site.
« I was born in Alfred, » Sarrzin said. « It’s great news for me to hear this today. »
The Alfred Bog, located seven kilometres south of the Village of Alfred in Alfred-Plantagenet Township, receives official designation as a non-operating provincial park. This means that the focus of the new park’s existence is to protect and maintain the domed peat bog habitat, which serves as home for a wide variety of plant and animal species, that includes the Eastern whip-poor-will, a bird classed as « threatened » in Ontario, and a species of orchid that is unique to the bog.
The public is allowed to use the Alfred Bog Walk trail to view a limited portion of the 3000-hectare bog and its plants and animals so long as people remain on the boardwalk and do not wander off-trail and damage the fragile habitat. The non-operation designation means no camping is allowed in the bog and there are none of the facilities that are available to the public in a recreation-class provincial park like Voyageur Park near Chute-à-Blondeau in East Hawkesbury Township.
Protection and preservation of the Alfred Bog area has been a joint effort since the 1980s by conservation and local government groups, that include the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), the South Nation Conservation Authority, the Vankleek Hill and District Nature Society, the Ottawa Field Naturalists Club, Alfred-Plantagenet Township, and the United Counties of Prescott-Russell.
« The provincial park designation will build on four decades of work, » said Rob McRae, NCC program director for Eastern Ontario.