Today’s blog was written by Jessica Stillman, School Outreach Coordinator at Brontë Creek Provincial Park.
Our beautiful beaches are one of the many reasons people choose to visit parks.
But you didn’t think they would become so pretty on their own, did you?
Here’s a look at some of the behind-the-scenes work you probably didn’t know was going on across the province…
Singing the blues
Visitors flock to see the crystal blue waters of Lake Superior Provincial Park from its unique beaches.
While most of it is natural, we occasionally help the lake maintain its world-renowned turquoise hues, especially near our beaches where visitors want the perfect picture of our largest Great Lake.
Once the ice melts each spring, staff equip canoe teams with copious amounts of natural blue dye. These canoes paddle along the shores of Lake Superior Provincial Park, depositing dye where needed.
As these primary canoes disperse the blue dye, other canoes follow, using their paddles to mix the dye into the water.
This natural dye does not harm Lake Superior wildlife; However, local fishermen have caught several fish that appear to be “abnormally blue.”
Visitors are advised not to spend too much time swimming in Lake Superior, or they may emerge from the water with a blue tint.
Fortunately, the lake’s cold water means that visitors often don’t spend enough time in the water to notice the difference.
Pinery Provincial Park Beach is known for its three S’s: sand, sunsets, and sand dunes. But those sand dunes don’t form alone!
Pinery staff have already begun charging the batteries needed to complete spring beach maintenance. Using industrial leaf blowers, staff reshape sand dunes along the beach that were damaged over the winter.
This work is only done during the spring, once the snow has melted and migration has begun. This is because staff use the sounds of migrating birds to cover up the noise of leaf blowers.
It usually takes weeks to complete the work, as the staff wants the shape of the sand dunes to be as natural as possible.
Delays are not uncommon due to dead batteries, noise complaints or unexpected snow.
All the hard work is worth it, however, as the sand dunes provide important habitat for the park’s flora and fauna, a windbreak for beachgoers, and an Instagram-worthy view of Lake Huron.
Next time you visit Pinery, remember to stay away from sand dunes as they require weeks of work to form and maintenance on them is only done in the spring.
Give a helping hand
New this year!
Wasaga Beach Provincial Park presents its own beach equipment repair: Wasaga Beach Helping Hands!
Does your barbecue knob squeak a little? Does your umbrella block the sun too much? Have your sand toys become too sandy? We have the perfect solution for you!
Our experts in all kinds of helping hands are here to… well, help!
We know that after a long day lying on the beach, the thought of taking your used gear home seems like too much work.
Instead of throwing your gear in the sand or a dumpster, stop at a newly built Helping Hands cabin on the way out!
Our Helping Hands will return your gently used equipment to new, ready-to-use condition (for a nominal fee, of course)!
Our Helping Hands has built 14 individual cabins along Wasaga Beach’s 14km of sandy shoreline to prepare for the upcoming season. That’s one cabin per kilometer!
In between cabin building, our Helping Hands have been training hard this spring to learn a very particular set of repair skills, most of which involve WD-40, duct tape, and small sand brushes.
Keeping it natural
Visitors to Killbear Provincial Park have always been amazed by its rocky coastline and sandy beaches.
From tiny little beaches to long stretches of sand, there is something for everyone!
Part of the appeal is that no two beaches are exactly the same. Some beaches have thick yellow sand, others have fine white sand. If you look closely, you can even find small pink and black sand beaches!
So how does Killbear maintain its variety of sandy beaches? With a stone rolling machine, of course!
A stone drying machine is like a very large washing machine. Place rocks in the machine, select the size of sand you want and press start.
After 24 hours of falling, spinning and crashing into each other, the rocks turn to sand.
The color and type of rocks used result in different types of sand. In 1994, the staff member in charge of the rock thrower thought it would be fun to make each of the beaches have slightly different sand.
That year resulted in the most positive feedback from campers about the quality of the beach sand, and since then, Killbear has continued to make all of their beaches have slightly different sand to meet all the needs of their visitors.
Transporting the good things
Presqu’ile Provincial Park welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors to its 2.5 km sandy shoreline each year.
Goodbye sandy shores of Presqu’ile!
While visitors are busy frolicking in Lake Ontario, the lake is slowly washing away sand from Presqu’ile beaches, moving east to deposit itself in North Beach Provincial Park and Sandbanks Provincial Park.
Now, don’t get us wrong, this is great for these other popular beach parks and we’re very happy for them, but it doesn’t bode well for Presqu’ile beaches.
To solve the problem, each spring Ontario Parks staff move truckloads of sand from North Beach and Sandbanks. back to Presqu’ile where he came from.
So much sand builds up each year that visitors to North Beach and Sandbanks don’t notice truckloads of it moving back to Presqu’ile.
Fresh sand on Sandbanks beach
The staff knows the difference sand makes in restoring Presqu’ile Beach.
This makes the hard work worth it, as the staff also knows that all the sand they move each spring will soon return again to North Beach and Sandbanks via Lake Ontario.
Without spring beach maintenance, Presqu’ile Beach may one day cease to exist.
Day of the Innocents!
spring maintenance is In fact, it’s happening in many of our provincial parks as we prepare for summer, but BEACH maintenance isn’t exactly how we describe it.
We like to leave most of that to nature.
The blue waters of Lake Superior are all natural – no staff intervention required! Especially on sunny days, some might mistake a sandy beach along Lake Superior for a Caribbean getaway.
Pinery has all the S’s: sand, sunsets and sand dunes, but nature forms the sand dunes without staff involvement. You can help protect the dunes by staying away from them during your visit!
While Wasaga Beach has not hired Helping Hands, the staff works hard to collect lost items and trash from the beach to maintain it for wildlife and visitors.
You can do your part by leaving your beach area as you found it or better yet, even cleaner than when you arrived! Do you visit the beach just for the day or the weekend? Borrow equipment from a friend or family member.
Killbear has small and large beaches with a variety of sand types. The variation in sand color and texture is actually due to the rocky shoreline and Georgian Bay storms that move the sand.
In fact, Presqu’ile sand is slowly moving to North Beach and Sandbanks along Lake Ontario, but Prequ’ile Beach will also receive sand deposits from other locations further west.
We love our beaches, and we know you do too!
Thank you for helping us keep our beaches pristine.