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Conservation authority has public safety concerns

As crews continue cleanup efforts following December’s ice storm, the Grand River Conservation Authority has resorted to posting “No Trespassing” signs in an effort to keep people out of trails and parks.
The ice storm caused damage to thousands of trees on conservation authority land. Dozens of staff, along with four private tree firms and some trained volunteers, have been working steadily to clear out hazardous trees and branches, a news release said. But the damage is so heavy that some popular natural areas and trails may not see work crews for weeks, it said.
The conservation authority is concerned about do-it-yourselfers who have been going onto trails and into parks to clear away debris so they can use the areas, it said. Though they may be moving branches and trees on the ground, they may not be dealing with the danger posed by hanging branches and leaning trees.
So in an effort to keep people out, red and white signs reading, “No Trespassing – Dangerous conditions exist beyond this point – Area closed,” have been posted.
No tickets have been written yet, but conservation authority parks staff have the authority to issue trespassing tickets, particularly if people refuse to leave property or return after being asked to leave.
Currently, all conservation authority rail trails, including the Elora Cataract Trail, remain closed. No- admission areas, such as Starkey Hill in Guelph, are also closed.
While the Guelph Lake Nature Centre is open for school classes and conservation authority events, visitors are being discouraged from walking on their own along trails or in wooded areas. Guelph Lake, Rockwood and Elora Gorge conservation areas are all normally closed during the winter, and so remain closed. Belwood Lake had opened for the season for ice-fishing, but a recent warm spell disrupted activities, and visitors are being urged to stay out of forested areas.

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