By Adam Brazeau
Lancaster, Ontario – The wetland boardwalks at Cooper Marsh are nearing completion, as an annual fundraising event ramps up for a tasty October afternoon.
The Cooper Marsh Conservators, a group of nature enthusiasts, business leaders and members of the Raisin Region Conservation Authority are hard at work to preserve and enhance what one member calls, "a well-kept secret."
Conservators members Judy Bobka and her husband, Dan Bobka, have been staunch supporters of the Cooper Marsh Conservation Area and Visitor's Centre for years.
Standing on the new boardwalk viewing platform, in back of the visitor centre, the duo discussed their upcoming event, the Cooper Marsh Harvest Wine & Cheese fundraiser on Sun., Oct. 20 - from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
"We're a small and hardworking board," said Judy Bobka. "Our Wine and Cheese fundraiser will provide good social action and lots of good food."
The Conservators aim for the boardwalks to both be officially opened next spring. The Boardwalk Restoration Fund project is striving to raise a total of $313,101. The funds will be used to restore, upgrade and widen the boardwalks to enhance the marsh experience and be wheelchair accessible.
During a tour of the boardwalks, the Bobkas showcased the construction progress of the west boardwalk, which spans 1,300 ft. – just across from the 2,000 ft. east boardwalk, which was recently completed. Currently, the west boardwalk is nearly at the halfway point.
Carpenter Mike Tessier, along with labourer Duncan MacDonald, were knee-deep in marsh, tearing apart the existing frame of the old boardwalk. Tessier said the original boardwalk faired extremely well for 30 years of activity.
"The new boardwalk will be sturdier, wider and wheelchair accessible," he said. "It's a big project, that's very time consuming, since we're working in such deep and wet areas."
The Bobkas are anticipating the grand opening, which will usher in a new era at the marsh, ensuring its longevity for future generations. At the fundraiser, they will be available to answer any questions. An interesting opportunity for nature lovers, since they possess an extensive knowledge of the wetland area.
Besides the wine, cheese and hot hors d'oeuvres, fundraiser attendees will be able to see photographic displays of the boardwalk construction in progress. A lot of the people behind the boardwalk will be there, too.
"Come out and meet the Conservators," said Judy Bobka.
To find out more about making a donation and Cooper Marsh, click here.