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Camping up 8% in 2020 at Beavermead Park in Peterborough, Warsaw Caves: Otonabee Conservation

Bookings for camping at Warsaw Caves and Beavermead Park campgrounds were up in 2020. Otonabee Conservation

Despite the season being seven weeks shorter due to the coronavirus pandemic, campsite bookings in 2020 were up eight per cent at Beavermead Park in Peterborough and the Warsaw Caves Conservation Area in 2020, Otonabee Conservation reports.

In its annual report, the conservation authority based in Peterborough describes 2020 as a “year of adaptation and resiliency” as conservation staff adjusted to COVID-19 protocols while maintaining the parks, monitoring flood activity in the Otonabee watershed and protecting drinking water sources.

Read more: Ontario Parks reports campsite reservations have doubled from 2020

“Our staff have worked very hard under challenging circumstances to fulfill our conservation mandate,” said Dan Marinigh, CAO at Otonabee Conservation. “We responded to a year-over-year increase in the number of planning and permitting inquiries and permit applications, which were received primarily in a compressed nine-month period.”

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Both campgrounds reopened in late June although some of the trails at the Warsaw Caves Conservation Area were closed during the summer to meet COVID-19 protocols. Beavermead features 97 camping sites while Warsaw Caves offers 52 unserviced sites.

“We also experienced an eight per cent increase in campsite bookings in 2020, with a season that was seven weeks shorter due to lockdown-related closures,” said Marinigh.

Among highlights of 2020 for the conservation authority:

  • 29,266 campers and day visitors to the Warsaw Caves Conservation Area and Beavermead Campground
  • 16,550 native trees and shrubs planted across the watershed that will sequester 3.5 million-plus kilograms of carbon over their lifetime
  • 23 flood messages issued to help protect life and property from flooding
  • 324 permits issued under the Conservation Authorities Act
  • 536 pre-consultation files opened to assist clients in understanding natural hazards/heritage features on a property
  • 93,062 new website users and a 43 per cent increase in social media followers

Otonabee Conservation’s board of directors chairperson Andy Mitchell says all 36 conservation authorities across the province awaited the announcement of changes to the Conservation Authorities Act that were passed in  December 2020.

“We continue our work with the provincial government and our partners, to implement the legislative changes in a manner consistent with our mandate to protect people, property, and the environment,” he said.

Read more: Ford government to strip some powers of conservation authorities 

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Marinigh said investing in the local watershed — which covers Peterborough, all municipalities within Peterborough County, the City of Kawartha Lakes and the Municipality of Trent Hills — ensures a sustainable future for communities and economies.

“Thank you to our municipalities and partners who helped us achieve our goals in 2020, and to our staff and board for their dedication to our mission as we collectively responded to the most unusual of years,” he said.

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