Season of innovation at the Lake-Saint-François National Wildlife Area
The group called the Friends of the Lac-Saint-François National Wildlife Area has been forced to find other ways of encouraging its members to experience nature this season as COVID-19 health regulations have severely limited the availability of services at the site in Dundee. The not-for-profit organization is mandated with managing the activities on the reserve, which usually would include guided tours and interpretation workshops, geocaching and access to the protected wetland ecosystem by kayak or rabaska, but this year all such services have been suspended. Most of the independent hiking trails remain open, however, and visitors are still welcome to visit the reserve.
“We are working to keep people interested in the site and the mission, while also recruiting new members,” says coordinator Karina Leclair. It has not been easy, as visits to the site are hovering at around a third of where they would normally be at this time of year. “We have been refusing requests for groups,” she says, suggesting that the site remains a popular destination despite the limitations imposed by the pandemic. And, rather than focus on the negative, Leclair and her team of guides have been busy modifying and adapting their activities on site and online to encourage as much participation as possible.
The organization first launched a question of the day initiative through its Facebook account, where visitors can answer daily trivia questions about the reserve and its many species of flora and fauna. A membership drive was launched to extend memberships purchased this year through the 2021 season. A third initiative saw the creation of a pedestrian rally on the Tower Trail and the Nodding Wakerobin Trail. The family-friendly hikes now features “who am I” style questions on the different wildlife and plant species that may be observed, thus making for an interactive visit to the reserve. Visitor can access the questionnaire online or get a contactless version in person. Entry in the rally is free, and participants who complete the questionnaire will be included in a drawing for a $50 gift certificate valid in the reserve’s gift shop or for membership services.
More information on the preventive measures taken by the Friends of Lake Saint-François National Wildlife Area can be found on their website at www.amisrnflacstfrancois.com. The organization, located at 7600, chemin de la Pointe-Fraser in Dundee, can also be reached by phone at 450 264-5908.