The Perch Creek Habitat Management Area is 200 acres of Sarnia filled with meadows, forest and wetlands all linked together with five kilometres of hiking trails.
The place is home to foxes and deer, coyotes and countless songbirds, and even the occasional beaver.
But some visitors have shown a total disregard for the nature at Perch Creek and other lands managed by the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority, so the authority is cracking down.
All-terrain vehicles are prohibited in conservation areas but they are tearing up and eroding trails. Horses’ hooves and dogs running off-leash are also impacting the wildlife and habitat the authority is entrusted to protect, said Kevin Baker, director of lands.
“We are going to come down hard on people,” he told The Journal.
“Our staff will be enforcing the rules and regulations stringently, and anyone caught will be dealt with according to the (Conservation Authorities Act). This might make some people unhappy but that’s what we’re going to have to do.”
Riders running ATVs on public land is a perennial problem that’s less pronounced at Perch Creek this year than some other places, such as the W. Darcy McKeough Floodway near Sombra.
Blocking off access points and better signage has helped, Baker said.
“But it’s day to day. All it takes is just one or two getting in there.”
There are also plans to repair some of the trail damage done earlier at Perch Creek, he added.
“We are definitely going to start cracking down … and ensuring people are using our properties the way they were meant to be used.”
The Perch Creek Habitat Management Area is located at 1892 Churchill Line, just east of Blackwell Sideroad, where there is a small parking lot, signage and trail map.