BPH, formerly known as Rio Algom Limited joined with Elliot Lake city officials and members of the Penokean Hills Field Naturalists to share a historic milestone.
BPH spokesperson Jay Hartling says the three partners met up yesterday to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the shared stewardship of the Sherriff Creek Wildlife Sanctuary with the signing of a continued commitment to the area.
He says the signing ceremony held at Westview Park acknowledged the valuable work of the volunteers in returning the site, one of the most intensely mined in Elliot Lake history, to its natural state.
Naturalists’ president Marg Reckhan concurred adding the site is a great example of what can be accomplished when organizations cooperate to provide a place where wildlife thrives, and the public can enjoy all it has to offer.
Mayor Dan Marchisella adds it has been amazing to personally see and monitor damaged land converted back into lush, clean, and safe marshland hosting a multitude of life over the last 25 years.
The bird sanctuary is in the former Milliken Tailings Management Area. The bird sanctuary demonstrates innovative remediation of a mine, increasing the biodiversity and public use of the area, two of the key environmental and social value objectives of BHP’s mine closure.
The original joint Stewardship Agreement was signed by the PHFN and Rio Algom Limited (now BHP) in 1997. The work of the volunteer members and friends of the PHFN, with support from BHP and the City of Elliot Lake, has created a flourishing and productive habitat through careful stewardship, education and collaboration. Years of mining operations are virtually undetected in the bird sanctuary and wildlife area that has developed naturally on 182 hectares (450 acres) of wetlands that include marsh, bog and shoreline, as well as mature mixed forest, regenerating woodlands and areas that resulted from forestry and mining during the late 1950’s.
“This is a historic day here in Elliot Lake as we come together in the spirit of renewing a partnership that reinforces the ideals of environmental stewardship,” said Mayor Dan Marchisella. “The leadership of BHP, formerly RAL, and the Penokean Hills Field Naturalists has led to an achievement that was thought to be impossible and is a clear sign to all Canadians as to what can be achieved through partnerships and care for our wildlife. I’m proud of all of you that have been dedicated to this project and proud to be an ongoing part of it.”
The renewed shared stewardship agreement between the three parties describes how they will work together to ensure continued public walking and hiking access while protecting biodiversity and the habitat of a diverse array of birds, animals, and native plant species. BHP has provided funding to the PHFN this year to improve the educational experience in the area by increasing interpretive signage on the walking paths.
“We are proud to partner with the PHFN and the City on this important nature and volunteer-driven restoration project that continues to flourish and benefit the community of Elliot Lake. BHP greatly appreciates the tremendous volunteer work of the dedicated members of the PHFN, and the continued collaboration with the City of Elliot Lake” adds Kate Sommerville, BHP General Manager of Legacy Assets for North America.