The area at Maplewood Flats consists of mudflats, a salt marsh, forests, wetlands, and a trail system that weaves throughout these different environments. The area is a critical ecosystem and is used by a variety of native and migrating birds, as well as mammals like deer, river otters, and coyotes. They use this area during nesting season to raise their young, as protection from predators, and to forage for food and find shelter.
Conserving Maplewood Flats is important to not only these animals but also to the local community, as mudflats help protect our shorelines. One way we can help preserve this environment is by enjoying the trails respectfully. One of the most important guidelines is to keep dogs on a leash while walking the trails. Let’s dig into why it’s so important and how you can help protect this area for future generations to enjoy.
1. Preserve Ground-nesting Bird Habitat
Ground nesting birds like Dark-eyed Junco, Hermit Thrushes, Sparrows, and Killdeer use the ground to make their nests. They make their nests out of stones, twigs, and sticks and are just deep enough to hold their eggs. They choose areas like grasslands, meadows, low shrubs, and near open areas like fields and oceans.
They do this to ensure that their eggs stay within reach and that their young have shelter. Nesting season in Southern BC starts in April and goes through till late August. Dogs that are off-leash may go off trail and damage ground nests or disturb fledglings that lack skills and flight feathers.
Picture of juvenile killdeer in a ground nest – Photography by Elijah Hail
2. Prevent the Spread of Invasive Species
Invasive species can be found just about anywhere, but here at Maplewood Flats, we have some specific species that we are trying to reduce or remove altogether. Some of those species include blackberry, ivy, and yellow-flag iris.
When off-leash dogs wander, they can enter an area containing invasive species and unknowingly collect seeds and distribute them throughout other areas. That’s why it’s important for dog owners to be aware of these risks and help us preserve these natural areas.
Picture of invasive yellow tansy – Photography by Ando Shev
3. Protect Sensitive Areas
Salt marshes and mudflats are important intertidal ecosystems that provide a number of benefits to the surrounding environment, including protection from flood and storm surges, filtering nutrients, and providing habitat for a wide variety of organisms and bird species.
Off-leash dogs may unintentionally wander into protected or sensitive areas like mudflats, salt marshes, or protected areas. They may trample nests, and disturb soil and plants which can act as an essential source of food and habitat for species.
4. Protect Wildlife
At Maplewood Flats, we have a variety of wildlife that enjoy the trails such as squirrels, river otters, deer, coyotes, and a wide variety of birds. Most dogs are curious and want to check out the furry passerby, and some can have a heightened prey drive and may want to chase. This wildlife face natural predators in the wild, and an encounter with a dog can be stressful.
This is why we ask dogs to not be walked over the bridge, as we have a high traffic of wildlife such as deer and river otters. Dogs can be walked before the bridge all that we ask is that they are on a leash so that it allows wildlife to get away safely.
We are delighted to hear how much people enjoy coming for a walk with family, friends, and furry companions at Maplewood Flats. It’s integral to us that we continue educating the public about the importance of this area and preserving it for wildlife and the future generations to come.
Reminder: Dogs should be on a leash at all times in parks, with the exception of off-leash areas. Here are some dog-friendly parks that you and your pup can also enjoy!
- Cates Park (Whey-ah-Wichen)
- Windridge Park
- Strathaven Park
- Parkgate Park
- Myrtle Park
- Lynn Canyon Park
- Garibaldi Park
To find other parks go to: https://www.dnv.org/recreation-and-leisure/find-dog-park