Parks Canada begins restoration of devastated Cavendish Campground

Friday was the first day that Parks Canada crews were able to get into Cavendish Campground in P.E.I. National Park to better assess the damage and begin recovery efforts since post-tropical storm Dorian hit P.E.I.

The campground will remain closed to the public this year due to safety concerns

Brad Romaniuk, with Parks Canada, surveys the damage at Cavendish Campground in P.E.I. National Park on Friday. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

The story of Cavendish Campground will have to start a new chapter after the devastation caused by post-tropical storm Dorian.

"About 80 per cent of the campground was affected," said Brad Romaniuk, incident commander for the recovery and response after Dorian for Parks Canada at P.E.I. National Park.

He said they haven't had a chance to assess the entire campground.

"Most places you can't even get into to make further assessments," Romaniuk said. "Probably 60 per cent of it. We lost all our standing trees."

Romaniuk said that even the trees that were left standing had substantial damage.

'Trees will continue to come down'

"Trees are damaged. Root systems are pulled out and as wind changes slightly and as time and pressure continues, trees will continue to come down," he said.

"That was one of the primary reasons we have kept this place closed for the majority of the last week."

Romaniuk says crews have not been able to get to all of the sites yet due to the number of downed trees. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Because of the extensive damage to other Parks Canada sites on P.E.I. it was only Friday morning that crews were able to start clearing safe passages through the downed trees so that better assessments could be made.

A four-person fire crew from Kootenay National Park in B.C. were at the campground clearing dangerous trees out so that other staff could get in to do utility assessments.

The crew from British Columbia were on hand to help make the site safer by removing dangerous trees. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Many of the trees had come out at the roots, potentially damaging buried lines.

Staff said all 16 of the buildings were damaged by falling trees. For the most part, damage to the buildings appears to be minimal.

Site assessments

In a written statement, Parks Canada said it has finished another assessment of the damage caused by Dorian across sites on P.E.I.

Green Gables House and visitor centre will be open regular hours until the end of October.

Romaniuk estimates 60 per cent of the standing trees in the campground area were knocked down during Dorian. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Access to Cavendish's main beach, Ross Lane Beach and all of the trails at Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst are open.

Cavendish Campground will remain closed for the year, which will be strictly enforced for safety reasons. Stanhope Campground will remain closed for the season as well.

Romaniuk says that in some cases between three and five metres of dunes were removed in the storm and transported down the beach. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

All trails at Green Gables Heritage Place, Robinsons Island Road and trail system will remain closed until further notice.

For the latest updates on what is open or closed, people can visit Parks Canada's closures page.

Repair costs

Parks Canada said it is still too early to say how much the cleanup of the sites will cost.

Romaniuk said they intend for Cavendish Campground to be open next season, but it will remain to be seen if all 220 sites will be ready.

Parks Canada was already working with partners within the province on an Acadian forest restoration program and were in the process of reintroducing tree species that were previously in the area.

Other Parks Canada sites on P.E.I. have reopened since the weekend's storm. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Romaniuk said that many of the trees that came down were white spruce, which could be good for the rejuvenation of the forest.

"In some cases it will accelerate it because they were on the end of their life cycle," he said. "There was a lot of oak and maple that were already starting to sucker through.

"Some of those species will excel now because they won't have to compete for light and water and nutrients."

The loss of trees could allow the Acadian forest rejuvenation to accelerate as the new trees will have less competition. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Romaniuk said that visitors that return to the area will see a different campground than the one they saw previously.

"This place will look different," he said.

"This will be part of the story of this campsite in this part of the national park and the Island," he said. 

"The hurricane that occurred in 2019 will be a story that we'll tell for generations and this will be sort of a living example of that."

More P.E.I. news

With files from Brian Higgins


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