Sorry cowboys and cowgirls—at the end of the month, the Cheltenham Badlands in Caledon, Ont. will be temporarily closed off to the public.
The Ontario Heritage Trust, the organization that owns the Badlands, announced that the area is facing several conservation issues—such as erosion and littering by tourists—forcing the Badlands to be closed while a perseveration strategy is finalized and deployed. This process will take several years to complete.
The seven-hectare area is made of exposed bedrock that was deposited over 445 million years ago. Since the 1900s, the iron-rich shale has eroded into the rolling hummocks and gullies that create the area’s distinctive landscape and a prime spot for selfies.
The Cheltenham Badlands have grown in popularity and each year, draws thousands of visitors. Now, its popularity is destroying it.
“Over the years, its distinctive landscape has been attracting increasing numbers of visitors, resulting in accelerated erosion of the sensitive red shale surface and permanently changing its unique appearance,” wrote the Trust in a press release.
“Unpermitted activities such as cycling, motorized vehicle use and camping cause further damage and contribute to other unlawful activity such as littering, vandalism and fires,” the Trust continued.
Caterina Colme, a spokesperson for the Trust, told the Canadian Press that signs asking for visitors to stay off certain areas have been vandalized or removed several times over the years. Colme also said that the number of cars parked along the shoulder of the Olde Baseline Road, which borders the area, is also affected the safety in the area.
This summer, an environmental consultant will begin to work on a Master Plan, the long-term strategy that will guide future conservation efforts.
Although a fence will be erected along the Olde Baseline Road, the closure will not affect sections of the Bruce Trail that runs through other areas of the property.