Negative Impacts of Road Construction on Isthmus

Leading to Farabout Peninsula

    WHY ROAD CONSTRUCTION SHOULD NOT BE PERMITTED    The Farabout Peninsula is almost an island. It is joined to the mainland by a narrow isthmus (about 30 meters wide at its narrowest point)  running through a swampy low lying area diving Outlet Bay from Littleneck Bay. The entire wetland would likely be classified as "Provincially Significant" if evaluated using the Ontario Wetlands Assessment Northern Manual (OMNR 1993).   The isthmus has a rich wetland which attracts wildlife of all sorts . Animal trails, tracks and droppings are obvious evidence of the use of this corridor, particularly by White-tailed Deer and Wolves, and occasionally by Moose.  The isthmus provides the only wildlife corridor linking the peninsula to the mainland.    Because the isthmius is so narrow, a road bed would basically use the entire width of the isthmus at its narrowest points.  Vegetation would have to be removed. Loss of alder thickets could potentially lead to erosion in some of the lowest lying areas.   Depending on the type of road, there might be infilling with gravel and destruction of wetland habitat.  Even a winter road would result in a significant loss of vegatation and might lead to problems with unwanted access by snowmobiles in winter and ATV's year-round. Gating such roads is often ineffective in controlling access.   The Farabout Peninsula is almost an island. It is joined to the mainland by a narrow isthmus (about 30 meters wide at its narrowest point)  running through a swampy low lying area diving Outlet Bay from Littleneck Bay. The entire wetland would likely be classified as "Provincially Significant" if evaluated using the Ontario Wetlands Assessment Northern Manual (OMNR 1993).   Numerous "natural history values of significance" can be summarized as follows:   1. Bald Eagle nest - Species of Special Concern in Ontario (SARO)  2. Canada Warblers nesting - Threatened nationally (COSEWIC), Special Concern provincially (SARO)  3. Snapping Turtle - Special Concern nationally (COSEWIC), provincially (SARO)  4. Bur Oaks - prairie indicator species  5. Cinnamon Fern - Regionally rare  6. Red-necked Grebes nesting - Sensitive in Ontario (S3)  7. Common Loon (2 nests with eggs found at isthmus)  8. Extensive wetlands at isthmus (Outlet Bay and Littleneck Bay)  9. Fish spawning habitat for muskie and bass   These comments on the environmental sensitivity of the isthmus are taken from: Life Science Inventory of Farabout Peninsula Eagle Lake Ontario (2009). Prepared by: Bryan, S., Bryan, M., Eady, C. & Salter,D., pp. 18-22.    Spawning and early life habitat is critical for the survival of Muskellunge . This is an important period that influences survival and abundance of this fish. It is the period when the greatest mortality of Muskellunge occurs. Therefore, reproductive habitat is key to conservation of this sensitive fish species.   A major cause in the decline of native muskellunge populations is the loss or alteration of habitat; especially reproductive habitat.  Shoreline disruption has been the distinguishing factor that marks the difference between lakes with reproductive success, and those lakes that require artificial stocking of fish (e.g., in Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Kentucky). It has been found that sediments in “self-sustaining” Muskellunge lakes are those with non-disrupted levels of dissolved nitrogen in organically rich vegetative areas, along with well aerated sediments. These important habitat elements have been found across Muskellunge studies as critical for spawning success in the United States and in Boreal lakes in Ontario.   The isthmus to Farabout Peninsula is a very narrow strip of land. Both spawning areas (bordering Littleneck and Outlet Bays) would be detrimentally affected by road construction.  Road construction in this sensitive area would require clearing of trees along the length of the isthmus, and spillage of ground materials into the bordering weed beds would be unavoidable. This in turn would reduce dissolved oxygen in the shallow water at spawning depth (1-2 meters below the surface), would potentially reduce levels of organic nitrogen, and over time, would increase released mercury in the adjacent lake water.   It is important to recognize that Muskellunge are a “homing” or reproductive returning species of fish. That is, they tend to return to the same spawning area in which they were born, or that they have used as adults previously for spawning.  They do not readily shift spawning locations with ease, or relocate to nearby suitable spawning sites. Because of this, it is critical that their traditional spawning areas be protected and not disrupted.  The delicate Muskellunge spawning areas on the isthmus leading to the Farabout Peninsula on Eagle Lake should be protected from perturbation by road construction.  One element in preserving the isthmus habitat is to allow coniferous species and timber to over-mature and die naturally.  This argues further for the prevention of road construction on the isthmus, as road construction would necessitate clearance of the thin margin of trees that are found on the isthmus.

WHY ROAD CONSTRUCTION SHOULD NOT BE PERMITTED

The Farabout Peninsula is almost an island. It is joined to the mainland by a narrow isthmus (about 30 meters wide at its narrowest point) running through a swampy low lying area diving Outlet Bay from Littleneck Bay. The entire wetland would likely be classified as "Provincially Significant" if evaluated using the Ontario Wetlands Assessment Northern Manual (OMNR 1993).

The isthmus has a rich wetland which attracts wildlife of all sorts. Animal trails, tracks and droppings are obvious evidence of the use of this corridor, particularly by White-tailed Deer and Wolves, and occasionally by Moose. The isthmus provides the only wildlife corridor linking the peninsula to the mainland.

Because the isthmius is so narrow, a road bed would basically use the entire width of the isthmus at its narrowest points. Vegetation would have to be removed. Loss of alder thickets could potentially lead to erosion in some of the lowest lying areas.

Depending on the type of road, there might be infilling with gravel and destruction of wetland habitat. Even a winter road would result in a significant loss of vegatation and might lead to problems with unwanted access by snowmobiles in winter and ATV's year-round. Gating such roads is often ineffective in controlling access.

The Farabout Peninsula is almost an island. It is joined to the mainland by a narrow isthmus (about 30 meters wide at its narrowest point) running through a swampy low lying area diving Outlet Bay from Littleneck Bay. The entire wetland would likely be classified as "Provincially Significant" if evaluated using the Ontario Wetlands Assessment Northern Manual (OMNR 1993).

Numerous "natural history values of significance" can be summarized as follows:

1. Bald Eagle nest - Species of Special Concern in Ontario (SARO)

2. Canada Warblers nesting - Threatened nationally (COSEWIC), Special Concern provincially (SARO)

3. Snapping Turtle - Special Concern nationally (COSEWIC), provincially (SARO)

4. Bur Oaks - prairie indicator species

5. Cinnamon Fern - Regionally rare

6. Red-necked Grebes nesting - Sensitive in Ontario (S3)

7. Common Loon (2 nests with eggs found at isthmus)

8. Extensive wetlands at isthmus (Outlet Bay and Littleneck Bay)

9. Fish spawning habitat for muskie and bass

These comments on the environmental sensitivity of the isthmus are taken from: Life Science Inventory of Farabout Peninsula Eagle Lake Ontario (2009). Prepared by: Bryan, S., Bryan, M., Eady, C. & Salter,D., pp. 18-22.

Spawning and early life habitat is critical for the survival of Muskellunge. This is an important period that influences survival and abundance of this fish. It is the period when the greatest mortality of Muskellunge occurs. Therefore, reproductive habitat is key to conservation of this sensitive fish species.

A major cause in the decline of native muskellunge populations is the loss or alteration of habitat; especially reproductive habitat. Shoreline disruption has been the distinguishing factor that marks the difference between lakes with reproductive success, and those lakes that require artificial stocking of fish (e.g., in Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Kentucky). It has been found that sediments in “self-sustaining” Muskellunge lakes are those with non-disrupted levels of dissolved nitrogen in organically rich vegetative areas, along with well aerated sediments. These important habitat elements have been found across Muskellunge studies as critical for spawning success in the United States and in Boreal lakes in Ontario.

The isthmus to Farabout Peninsula is a very narrow strip of land. Both spawning areas (bordering Littleneck and Outlet Bays) would be detrimentally affected by road construction. Road construction in this sensitive area would require clearing of trees along the length of the isthmus, and spillage of ground materials into the bordering weed beds would be unavoidable. This in turn would reduce dissolved oxygen in the shallow water at spawning depth (1-2 meters below the surface), would potentially reduce levels of organic nitrogen, and over time, would increase released mercury in the adjacent lake water.

It is important to recognize that Muskellunge are a “homing” or reproductive returning species of fish. That is, they tend to return to the same spawning area in which they were born, or that they have used as adults previously for spawning. They do not readily shift spawning locations with ease, or relocate to nearby suitable spawning sites. Because of this, it is critical that their traditional spawning areas be protected and not disrupted.

The delicate Muskellunge spawning areas on the isthmus leading to the Farabout Peninsula on Eagle Lake should be protected from perturbation by road construction. One element in preserving the isthmus habitat is to allow coniferous species and timber to over-mature and die naturally. This argues further for the prevention of road construction on the isthmus, as road construction would necessitate clearance of the thin margin of trees that are found on the isthmus.