I love Long Point State Park on Chautauqua Lake.
It has been the venue for many of my outdoor adventures, especially during the winter months.
In fact, I was just there cross-country skiing with my friend Arlene. But, recently, I discovered the "other Long Point" across Lake Erie in Norfolk County, Ontario, Canada.
A view of the wetlands at Long Point Provincial Park on Lake Erie in Ontario, Canada.
Long Point, Ontario, is a sand spit of land that juts out into Lake Erie at the mouth of Big Creek. The peninsula is about 40 kilometers - approximately 24 miles - long and 1 kilometer (.6 miles) wide.
The land was purchased by the British Crown in 1784 from the Mississauga Indians. By 1812, more than 3,000 immigrants, mostly from the United States, had settled near there. A large part of the point was sold to the Long Point Company, a private organization, in 1866. (www.norfolk-tourism.ca/long-point)
From one of the plaques at the preserve, I learned that in 1978, the eastern half of the peninsula, 3,250 hectares (more than 8,000 acres), was donated to the Canadian Wildlife Service. Called the Long Point National Wildlife Area, it is ranked as one of the most important national areas along the lower Great Lakes and one of the most important areas for migratory wildfowl and other birds in eastern North America.
Today, about 450 people live here full-time. During the summer, the population blooms to around 5,000 with an additional 100,000 visitors each year.
People come and stay because of the 22 miles of beaches, the swimming, boating, kayaking, and the world-class small and large mouth bass fishing.
Winter brings duck hunters, ice-fishermen and cross-county skiers. Some bird species, including Tundra swans and Canvas-back ducks, use this migration route. It is also a rest stop for Monarch butterflies headed for their Mexican wintering grounds.
In 1986, the United Nations designated the area as the "Long Point World Biosphere Reserve." World Biosphere Reserves have three basic functions. Their most obvious one is to help conserve the landscape and the ecosystems, but they have another function, which is to foster economic and human development. The third function is to support research, monitoring, education and provide an information exchange. These reserves around the world are helping supply the tools for "reconciling and integrating the conflicting interests and pressures that characterize land-use and planning today." (www.longpointbiosphere.ca)
With 50 vulnerable, threatened and endangered species living here and more than 100,000 visitors a year, I hope they accomplish their goals.
On the day I visited Long Point, it was cold, windy and spitting rain. The sky over Lake Erie was dismal and gray. We were on a road trip along the Lakeshore Trail and had already visited the coastal towns of Port Stanley and Port Bruce. We were headed for Port Rowan and Port Dover when we decided to check out Long Point. There was one road in and one road out. Most of the houses appeared shut up for the winter, and most of the campers had been moved to higher ground.
The lake was visible to the west and the Inner Bay on the east. I was hoping to see some tundra swans heading south but didn't. Even though I wasn't able to get out and enjoy a hike or kayak, I could sense the ecological importance of the area and made a mental note that I wanted to return during the summer.
While doing research for this article, I came across a website for Long Point Eco-Adventures located in Turkey Point, ON.
Their excursions looked inviting, but I know a lot of things aren't what they seem. So, I logged onto personal reviews for the Adventures.
Out of 60 people making comments, 50 were excellent and another seven were very favorable.
Good enough for me! I'll let you know how I make out. Until then, go outside and enjoy what our watershed has to offer. See you on the trails!
The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy is a local nonprofit land trust and watershed education organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing the water quality, scenic beauty and ecological health of the lakes, streams, wetlands and watersheds of the Chautauqua region. Over the past 23 years, we have conserved 2 miles of Chautauqua Lake shoreline and 718 acres of land across Chautauqua County, establishing 18 nature preserves. For more information or to sign up for our e-news, visit chautauquawatershed.org.