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Kettle Creek Conservation Authority has five walking/hiking trails totaling over 22 kilometres, and now the Authority is making it easier for legitimate users to enjoy them. Starting July 4, 2014 the Authority will introduce a new Access and Signage Policy allowing the public to enter certain areas and trails without a permit provided they follow the posted rules and regulations.

"Areas such as the Dalewood Trail will be open for legitimate user groups such as walkers, hikers and bird watchers to enjoy without obtaining a permit," says Elizabeth VanHooren, KCCA's General Manager. "But other areas will still require users to obtain a permit, and certain areas such as our dams will remain completely prohibited to public access."

The move comes as KCCA together with the City of St. Thomas and the Municipality of Central Elgin open an off-leash dog park in an open field adjacent to Dan Patterson Conservation Area. To accommodate the new initiative the newly formed Kettle Creek Dog Park and the adjacent Dan Patterson Conservation Area will now be deemed as permissive use areas. User groups will be allowed to enter the property without a permit provided they follow the posted rules and regulations such as entering only between dawn and dusk.

"We want to encourage the public to use our properties," says VanHooren. "At the same time we will be enforcing the new signage policy with a zero tolerance approach. If you are running your dog off leash outside of the designated area you will be asked to leave."

In the past, users of all of KCCA's properties have been required to purchase an $8 day pass or a seasonal day use pass for $75 to access the various trails and day use facilities. This pass will now only be required at the following day use areas and trails: Lake Whittaker Conservation Area Trail, Day Use and Campground; Kirk Cousins Management Area and Trail; Dalewood Conservation Area Day Use and Campground.

Permissive Use with no permit will be allowed for the Dalewood Hiking Trail, Dan Patterson Hiking Trail, Union Pond Day Use Area for legitimate posted uses during the hours of dawn to dusk.

Hiking groups and nature clubs/groups may contact the KCCA office for complementary day-use passes for areas still requiring a permit.

"We know that KCCA's trail system and day use facilities are used and enjoyed by a number of user groups," says VanHooren. "The KCCA Board hopes that we can count on users to continue to support the maintenance and development of those trails by following and adhering to our rules and regulations."

Signs will be posted at all major entrance points to authority properties. Users are asked to read the signs and contact the Authority with any questions.

For more information visit: www.kettlecreekconservation.on.ca

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