Hamilton Conservation Foundation donors and volunteers are banding together to keep turtles off Cootes Drive this spring as they move from Cootes Paradise to nesting beds along Spencer Creek and back again.
The Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) installed silt fencing along the Cootes Paradise side of Cootes Drive in 2012 with great success. The Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA), which owns the nesting beds upstream along Spencer Creek, is installing more fencing to help new turtle families find their way back to Cootes Paradise under the Spencer Creek bridge and keep them off of Cootes Drive.
After putting out an urgent call for donations on social media, the Foundation was quickly inundated with donations totalling $1,108 to more than cover the $900 cost of installing the fencing. “When something so simple and impactful needs just a little help, […] it’s no sweat,” tweeted donor Darryl Clarke. With only one week to raise the funds, the campaign relied heavily on the immediacy of social media communication to get the word out to community members who responded quickly and generously.
HCA staff is working with a team of 7 community volunteers who have pledged a total of 60 volunteer hours to install the fence. The team will work along the south side of Cootes Drive, between Olympic Drive and the Spencer Creek Rail Trail where it crosses Cootes Drive, Monday, May 5th and Tuesday, May 6th. The RBG fence will be installed concurrently on the north side of Cootes Drive.
The silt fence is being installed for the protection of turtles, including a number of species at risk turtles, which breed in this area. Local volunteer group Dundas Turtle Watch reported 25 turtle deaths along Cootes Drive between 2009 and 2012. RBG has installed silt fence on their lands since 2012. The silt fence will be in place from May until September.