Trail alliance protects foreshore nesting

Visitors to the popular Salmon Arm Bay foreshore trail are asked to take extra care this spring.

Visitors to the popular Salmon Arm Bay foreshore trail are asked to take extra care this spring – including leaving their dogs at home – to ensure the many birds, amphibians, fish, and mammals that live in the nature reserve have ample space to nest and raise their young.

“Spring is the critical nesting season for wildlife in the Salmon Arm Bay Nature Reserve,” said SABNES president Janet Aitkin.

“Even small incremental disturbances can cause irreparable damage. So trail users are asked to take extra precaution.”

To ensure all the species that raise their young in the nature reserve are protected, the City of Salmon Arm has closed the foreshore trail to dog walking between now and June 15.

Trail users are asked to leave dogs at home, be extra vigilant of baby wildlife on the trails and viewing decks, and be sure to report any disturbances or bylaw infractions directly to the animal control hotline at 250-833-8492.

Reports can also be emailed to trailreport@shuswaptrails.com.

“Submitting reports is an important part of the adaptive monitoring plan for the foreshore trail,” said consulting biologist Jeremy Ayotte.

“Trail users are our eyes on the ground.”

These reports are being monitored by a city working group assembled to help city staff and council determine if the current dog walking bylaw restrictions are sufficient to ensure the safety of wildlife in the nature reserve.

Any immediate concerns could result in further restrictions.

“This is the community’s opportunity to show we are serious about protecting foreshore wildlife and can manage our dogs responsibly at the same time,” said Peter Robertson, who advocated for allowing leashed dog walking on the trail and is part of the monitoring group.

In December, Salmon Arm council moved to implement a trial period to see if dogs walked on the foreshore trail with restricted two-metre leashes could be adequately managed without increasing impacts to wildlife.

The trial includes the current closure to dogs during the critical nesting period between now and June 15, no dog access off the foreshore trail onto the boardwalks or Christmas Island, and required removal of dog waste.

Council will review results of the trial period in January 2017 to determine if this approach can work for the long term.

The foreshore monitoring group includes leadership from city staff, the Nature Trust, the provincial ministry of forest lands and natural resource operations, SABNES, the city Greenway Liaison Committee, and local dog walkers.

The Shuswap Trail Alliance is providing facilitation for the working group, with support from Ayotte.