Friends of Pinhey Sand Dunes

The Friends of Pinhey Sand Dunes; under the auspices of Biodiversity Conservancy International, will ensure perpetual restoration and maintenance of the Pinhey Sand Dune System, by recruiting and training community members to properly care for this unique ecosystem, and to openly share its values with the public.

A Warm Welcome to Friends of Pinhey Sand Dunes
By Kyra McKenna – Friends of Pinhey Sand Dunes Committee Secretary

The summer of 2020 opened new doors for BCI, with a lot of publicity. Four months into the COVID-19 Pandemic, with lockdowns lifted and people getting antsy, Ottawa residents decided to become tourists of their own city and discover new natural areas where there is open space to socially distance, breathe fresh air, and get some vitamin D. If you search “Pinhey Sand Dunes Ottawa” in Google, the first page of results brings up blogs written in June and July by Narcity, Stephanie White Travels, Tapped out Travellers, and Macaroni Kid Ottawa, and this list continues onto the next page. This widespread advertisement got over 1,000 visitors to the Dunes over the summer, and allowed all those people to learn about who works to keep this unique ecosystem pristine and in existence. 

In addition to these visitors, a number of volunteers joined BCI, from high school students looking to fulfill their community involvement requirements to post-secondary students looking to gain some hands-on experience. BCI saw these young, eager volunteers, and decided to act upon this and propose the formation of a “Friends of Pinhey Sand Dunes” (FPSD) volunteer group to work under the auspices of BCI. It began with meetings between some of the new volunteers and the founder of BCI; Dr. P. T. Dang. The goal for this group is to register as a non-profit group under BCI, secure funding through local grants, and train volunteers to maintain the Dunes, which includes weeding, raking debris, fixing fence lines, observing biodiversity and documenting species behaviours. We will also have a volunteer in charge of social media content, as well as volunteers focused on developing events to promote the sites for different age groups. We will always remind the FPSD that this group is for the community in perpetuity.

Today we have a strong, active group that will see that the Dunes are cared for by the best group of volunteers, and continue to spread the word to the public and schools in hopes of recruiting more young members. 

As for BCI, our work on the dunes is progressing well. During the summer, we were able to host Girl Guides, Scouts Canada, and school groups for socially-distanced fun! Groups attended the Dunes for the day to get their hands dirty and help out with restoration. They sifted sand to remove debris; cleaning it and making ideal habitat for the organisms which rely on this ecosystem. They also got to connect with the insects that live in the dunes by observing their behaviour and letting them crawl on their hands.

As we transition into the winter season, physical labour at the dunes has stopped and we have been focusing our time on developing streamlined virtual tours, including different information to appeal to every age group. BCI has a sub-group dedicating their time to reaching out to schools and learning the material so they can present these virtual tours in an engaging and exciting way!