Over 100 visitors attended the annual open house at the Elbow Lake Environmental Education Centre (ELEEC) on May 23.
Located in South Frontenac on the picturesque shores of Elbow Lake, the centre offers a wide range of programming to individuals, local students and groups. This year's open house was extra special in that a number of recently completed projects were either unveiled or launched. The ELEEC is launching a new educational trails project which has three components: signage, infrastructure and an interpretive and interactive trials app. A new trailhead sign that was funded by the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation was unveiled and board representative Jeff Clark was present at the unveiling.
The new trails app, also funded by the TD group, was launched at the event and was used during an interpretative hike that was attended by many of the visitors. The app was designed and created by 17-year-old David Lougheed, a long-time volunteer at the centre and the centre's web designer, who was also present at the event.
Participants on the hike included members of Queen's University Library and its vice provost Martha Whitehead, who were instrumental in providing aerial imagery and mapping for the app.
The hikers, invited to download the app, visited numerous trail features, including life in a wetland, and the centre's two main land and water based climate stations. They record various kinds of data which is relayed to a satellite base where researchers from Queen's University can access it. Hikers also used the app to explore white pine, cedar forests, and looked at an invasive plant called European Frogbit. They learned about Old Bird, a microphone system set up on the rooftops at the centre, designed by Bill Evans of Old Bird Inc., that monitors the calls of night migrating thrushes, warblers and sparrows.
The second focus of the open house was the unveiling of a brand new foot bridge. A special ribbon cutting ceremony took place at the bridge where Carolyn Bonta, manager of the centre, and South Frontenac Mayor Ron Vanderwal officially cut the ribbon. The bridge was funded 50% by the township of South Frontenac and 50% by Frontenac County and was built by members of the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Network trails crew.
The new wooden bridge is 100 feet long, four feet wide, and is equipped with both handrails and mid rails and sits about a foot and a half above the water line. Supported on cribs, it is wheelchair accessible and was designed and donated to the centre by Bert Korporaal, the assistant superintendent of Frontenac Provincial Park. The new bridge spans a section of wetland and is a key connector of the centre's looped trail system. It replaces a former planked boardwalk that was worn and unstable and unable to safely support a large group.
Inside the centre's main pavilion there was a slide show and refreshments were served to visitors. Other events included a demonstration of the centre's High School student programming in limnology, the study of the smallest animals and plants that exist in lakes. A demonstration in seine netting also took place, where participants donned chest waders and nets and caught various fish and other invertebrates that inhabit the lake and wetlands. The centre also runs an Eco-Adventure daycamp with an environmental focus for youth aged 10-14 who learn from visiting scientists, and have the opportunity to explore the centre as well as swim and canoe on site.
The centre has a number of upcoming public programs planned this summer: including Dispatches from the Field on June 5 and July 14, Bass Fishing for Women on July 24-26, a night of astronomy on August 12, and an invasive species series of workshops and seminars on August 29. For more information about these events visit the centre's website at elbowlakecentre.ca