For Immediate Release
Apr 9, 2018

STATEMENT: MNRF issues order to halt beach-raking on protected piping plover habitat, enviro groups react


TORONTO – Representatives from Ecojustice, Environmental Defence and Ontario Nature issued the following statements in response to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s decision to issue a stop order against beach grooming by the Town of South Bruce Peninsula on Sauble Beach:

Laura Bowman, Ecojustice lawyer said:

“The ministry’s decision to issue a stop order a day after we sent them a letter on behalf of Ontario Nature is a step in the right direction, and a win for this endangered shoreline bird and the scarce dune ecosystems where it lives. Going forward, this must be followed by a consistent approach to protecting all of the piping plover’s habitat under the Act.”

Tim Gray, executive director of Environmental Defence said:

“Egregious and deliberate violations of the Endangered Species Act cannot go unenforced. We congratulate the MNRF for laying charges and issuing a Stop Work Order. This sends a clear message that habitat destruction will not be tolerated in Ontario.”

Caroline Schultz, Executive Director of Ontario Nature said:

“The shores of Sauble Beach are both protected piping plover habitat, and a major attraction for tourists and residents — but these roles aren’t contradictory. In fact, local volunteers, including Friends of Sauble Beach, are some of the strongest advocates for protecting both the beach and the birds, and will continue to play a key role in stewarding the shoreline in the future.”

Background

On behalf of Ontario Nature, Ecojustice sent a letter to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry on March 27, asking for a stop order to halt planned beach grooming by the Town of South Bruce Peninsula on protected piping plover habitat.

The ministry issued an order the following day.

Environmental Defence was forced to revoke the Blue Flag eco certification from Sauble Beach in 2015, as a result of habitat destruction by the Town of South Bruce Peninsula. Protection of endangered species and sensitive habitat features are core criteria in the Blue Flag beach certification.

Piping plovers are small shoreline birds that can be found in Eastern Canada. The endangered species and its habitat are legally protected under the Ontario Endangered Species Act.

The colour of sand themselves, piping plovers make their nests on dry areas at the back of sandy or gravelly beaches — close to the water but beyond the waves’ reach. However, those same areas are often popular spots for tourism and other recreational activities.

For media inquiries

Laura Bowman, lawyer | Ecojustice
lbowman@ecojustice.ca, 416 368 7533 ext. 522

Stephanie Kohls, Communications Director | Environmental Defence
skohls@environmentaldefence.ca, 416-323-9521 ext.232

Caroline Schultz, Executive Director | Ontario Nature
carolines@ontarionature.org, 416-444-8419 ext. 237