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Friends creating sure-footed solutions

A nature trail in north St. Catharines is safer and less vulnerable to erosion, after the Friends of Malcolmson
Eco-Park were able to do a repair job with the help of an Environmental Grant.
Cyclists had eroded deep ruts in the footpath running through the park adjacent to the Welland Canal, making
the terrain unsafe for pedestrians and making the area subject to further erosion. But with the help of a $2,500
grant from the Niagara Community Foundation, members of the volunteer group were able to fill the ruts with
clay, cover the clay with topsoil and plant native species.
The park, located on Lakeshore Road at Niagara Street, is owned by the City of St. Catharines but members
of the Friends group act as its stewards, raising funds through plant sales and using those funds to educate
the public about the native plants and animals of the Carolinian woodland. The park is a green oasis in an
otherwise developed area, providing habit for both wetland animals and for migratory birds and insects
crossing Lake Ontario. It’s also a place where hikers, visitors and north end residents go to appreciate nature
and to unwind.
The Niagara Community Foundation grant paid for a clay base to be compacted in the deep ruts, for top
soil to be spread over the patch and for new plants, shrubs and trees to be planted. New signage advises
mountain bikers to avoid the area.
Because volunteers planned and implemented the work, the environment is not only being enhanced, it’s being
appreciated, said Claire Theijsmeijer, a Friends member. Projects such as this one may be small, she said, but
they are an important tool for promoting appreciation of the natural environment. The public appreciates the
improvement too. “People walking on the trail have commented that this section is much safer.”

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