Mad River bank stabilization work set to begin

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Road access to the parking area at the Carruthers Memorial Conservation Area will be cut off as a project to stabilize an eroding bank of the Mad River gets underway.

Fred Dobbs, manager of stewardship services for the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority (NVCA), says the job will involve heavy equipment, so park access will be limited for safety reasons. He anticipates the work will begin immediately after Labour Day and continue for about two weeks.

Plans were unveiled to area residents at a July 26 meeting held at the conservation area. The initial phase of the program will focus on a 40-metre section of riverbank near the pavilion, where ongoing erosion is threatening the existing roadway. The problem has been exacerbated by some heavy rain events this summer.

Because of the heavy snow pack on the northern end of the escarpment, the Mad River is especially prone to erosion, and typical wooden shoring methods would be ineffective. This project will pilot a new approach using a combination of strategically placed large rocks and plantings which will hopefully provide a blueprint for future phases.

Dobbs says the NVCA is still in consultation with landowners further upstream to develop a master plan. The initial phase of the project will cost about $60,000 which is being funded through a grant from the World Wildlife Federation, private donations, and over $7,000 raised by the Friends of the Mad River (FOMR).

The heavy equipment will install large pieces of stone, sinking them into the riverbank far enough to prevent the water from flowing under and around them. When the rocks have been placed, topsoil will be added in pockets to allow addition of plant material.

Results of an online survey showed hiking, dog-walking, swimming and angling are all important activities at the park. While there will be peripheral benefits for infrastructure such as easier pedestrian access, Dobbs says the real benefits will be to river health.

There is no need for volunteers during the actual construction phase, but FOMR spokesperson Jesse Wright says there will be plenty to do once the wall is in place. Volunteers will be needed to plant trees and shrubs along the bank enhancing the appearance of the retaining wall and improving long term stability. The planting is expected to happen near the end of September and anyone interested in helping should email jkwright.79@ to be added to the volunteer list. Fundraising efforts will continue to raise money for subsequent phases.

Donations can be made through the NVCA’s charitable donation page on Use the drop down menu to select that the funds be applied to the Mad River Enhancement program. Charitable receipts will be issued for donations over $25. Donations can also be made at the NVCA head office, or by calling 705-424-1479.

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