Off-Trail Areas in Popular Mississauga Conservation Area Might be Unsafe

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If you're a nature enthusiast who looks forward to the Annual Spring Clean-Up at the Rattray Marsh Conservation Area in Mississauga, we have some disappointing news.

The Credit Valley Conservation (CVC) organization recently announced that the clean-up, which was scheduled for April 8, has been cancelled due to safety concerns.

According to the organization, some dead ash trees located in off-trails areas could fall. The trees are currently in a state of decline because of the emerald ash borer (EAB) beetle.

Fortunately for the average hiker, cycler or stroller, trails and near-trails throughout the conservation area are safe and have been cleared of all dead and dying ash trees. The off-trail areas, however, have not been cleaned, meaning any visitors to the area could be injured by falling trees.

This news is no doubt disappointing for regulars, as the Rattray Marsh Protection Association has hosted the annual event for close to 40 years. The clean-up event has attracted hundreds of volunteers scouring every inch of the conservation area, including off-trail areas, in search of litter.

Unfortunately, EAB affects an ash tree's root structure, making infested trees unstable at the base. Highly degraded trees are more likely to fall, especially during windy conditions.

Going forward, all trail users at Rattray Marsh Conservation Area must stay on the trails year-round and obey all posted trail signage.

According to the CVC, (EAB) beetle is an invasive forest pest that's not native to North America. They infest and kill 99.9 per cent of all ash trees they come in contact with. EAB larvae feed just beneath the bark of ash trees and disrupt the movement of water and nutrients.

This pest is spreading north through Ontario by flying from ash tree to ash tree. Rapid spread is caused by transporting firewood, logs and trees from nurseries. EAB are widespread within Rattray Marsh, as almost 80 per cent of its forest cover is made up of ash.

We'll keep you posted on the EAB's effect on the conservation area and any further events.

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