It’s a pandemic. Conservation areas have never been so important.
Fresh air. Open space. A mental balm. Or perhaps just somewhere – anywhere – to take the kids. Yes, outdoor spaces have been the saviours of the pandemic.
If we've learned anything from this time, it's that outdoor spaces matter. They matter for our physical and mental health, they matter for our kids' education and they matter for our sense of community.
We knew this before, of course, but nothing quite drives the point home like being cooped up for months, often without any yard or green space to speak of.
In the old days of early 2020, we could go anywhere and do anything.
It was easy to overlook the boardwalks and trails that wind through our neighbourhoods; easy to put off a walk in the woods until another day. We filled our lives with endless extra curriculars, social obligations and errands that took priority over the simple act of getting outside.
That changed in March 2020. With no sports to watch or play, no after school activities – no school, for that matter – people went back to basics.
Our conservation areas have seen a 50 per cent bump in visitors since the pandemic began, each of these newcomers looking for a safe and welcoming outdoor space to take a break from the bad news and escape their ever-shrinking homes.
And what did they discover?
That the research is right: spending time in nature does indeed reduce stress, improve mental health and encourage physical fitness. Kids who regularly spend time in nature focus better on schoolwork, sleep more soundly and have less anxiety.
RVCA staff have worked hard to keep our conservation areas open as much as possible throughout the pandemic. We waived parking fees to make our properties more accessible, used one-way signage on trails to encourage physical distancing and brought out more staff to manage busy seasons like the fall colour rush at Foley Mountain.
We kept things going so our visitors could keep going, too. Now, we hope you'll return the favour and keep our conservation lands going for years to come.
A small donation to the Rideau Valley Conservation Foundation goes a long way towards maintaining natural areas across the watershed and keeping conservation areas running for everyone to enjoy. The Steve Simmering Conservation Land Endowment Fund covers annual maintenance costs for more than 6,765 acres of conservation lands across the watershed. Donate today - for the sake of tomorrow: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/m/63940
Thank you for your support during these truly wild times. Stay safe, and happy trails!