Enjoy more Nearby Nature in 2021

January 8th, 2021

Robert Johnston Eco-Forest in Douro-Dummer (Photo: Leif Einarson)

Robert Johnston Eco-Forest in Douro-Dummer (Photo: Leif Einarson)

By Jenn McCallum, Coordinator of Water Programs at GreenUP

As 2021 begins we still find ourselves amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Though we may feel uncertainty and apprehension about the year ahead, there is one thing we can control in these unprecedented times: we can spend time in nature.

Nature, sometimes referred to as Vitamin N, can improve both mental and physical health, and is linked to happiness and wellbeing. If you don’t yet have a 2021 New Year’s resolution, might I suggest increasing your Vitamin N exposure?

You don’t need to go far to enjoy the benefits of Vitamin N in the greater Peterborough area. In fact, having indoor plants, a street tree in front of your home, or a backyard garden are all considered nearby nature.

Nuthatch at a backyard feeder. (Photo: Jackie Donaldson)

Enjoying nearby nature can also include running along the Rotary Greenway Trail, walking the Lakefield Millennium Trail or skating on the Trent Canal.

Walking the Emily Tract Nature Reserve in Omemee (Photo: Jenn McCallum)

During the winter, the Peterborough Nordic Club maintains a cross-country ski trail in beautiful Jackson Park. The ski trail is set on the 4 km stretch of public trail that travels through the centre of the park. While it is free to access, consider purchasing a membership or offering a donation to support the dedicated volunteers who maintain this course.

North of the city, past Burleigh Falls, is the Kawartha Nordic Ski Club where you will find 9 kms of snowshoe trails and 46 kilometres of cross-country ski trails. If you need equipment, they have rentals available.

Patricia Wilson is the Community Conservation Coordinator for Kawartha Land Trust. “Kawartha Land Trust has a beautiful mix of properties ranging from mixed forests to wetlands,” says Wilson. “And most are open for the public to explore and enjoy!”

“If you’re an avid hiker I would highly recommend the Stony Lake Trails,” Wilson continues. “You’ll experience beautiful views of the lake, cross stunning wetlands and forested areas, and encounter open meadow thickets. You may even meet some deer along the way!”

Even in the winter, many of Kawartha Land Trust’s trails are open to the public. As well as the Stony Lake Trails, you can visit John Earle Chase Memorial Park Trails, the Ballyduff Trails and Cation Wildlife Preserve.

For those unfamiliar with Kawartha Land Trust, Wilson suggests visiting the protected properties page on the website, kawarthalandtrust.org, for access to downloadable maps.

Numerous other organizations maintain natural spaces for our enjoyment. Visit Otonabee Conservation and municipal parks and recreation webpages for more local nature destinations.

While exploring our natural areas, please remember that they are home to many wildlife species. Maintain a “leave no trace” ethic by staying on designated trails and leaving nothing behind.

Waste discovered on a trail. (Photo: Jenn McCallum)

Discarded waste, like dog poop, toilet paper, snack wrappers, disposable masks, and plastic water bottles, can pollute waterways and harm wildlife. While winter snow may hide these things, they do not go away; they resurface again in the spring to do damage.

Dog poop and human waste are especially harmful. They can contain the illness-causing E. coli bacteria that can make its way into rivers and lakes.

As well as being harmful, waste can take away from the experience of other outdoor enthusiasts. Carry all your waste out with you or dispose of it in a provided garbage receptacle. Use on-site washrooms or wait until you can get to one.

If you’d like to go a step further and give back to our beautiful natural areas, then consider conducting your own garbage clean-up during your outdoor adventure.

The next time you go out for a stroll or a hike, bring medical gloves (or a trash picker) and a garbage bag. If you find waste that is safe to pick up, put it in a bag and take it with you. Dispose of it in a provided public waste receptacle or transport it home to your own garbage bin. If you can, safely clean recyclable items such as plastic water bottles and beer cans and place them in your blue bin for curbside pickup.

If you find used needles while exploring nature don’t touch them. They are not safe to handle. If they are on public property in the City of Peterborough contact Public Works at (705-745-1386). If found in the County, call the OPP at (705-742-0401).

With these suggestions in mind, it’s time to get out there and take in some good old Vitamin N!

Go and enjoy the health and wellness benefits of nature while leaving natural areas clear of garbage. You will feel great, the wildlife will thank you, and fellow trail users will enjoy their walk as you did!

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