PEI National Park recovery
Prince Edward Island National Park
Prince Edward Island National Park is a dynamic, ever-changing landscape that is defined by forces of change. The coastal ecosystems that it protects are – and have always been – in constant evolution. Climate change will affect the frequency and magnitude of change, including by increasing the severity and frequency of extreme weather events similar to post-tropical storm Fiona.
On September 23, 2022, Fiona’s ferocious forces left an unprecedented wake of destruction across the province. In PEI National Park, storm impacts included the falling of thousands of trees, road and beach access washouts, and the significant erosion of the park’s shoreline, including sand dunes.
View interactive before-and-after photos of Hurricane Fiona and clean-up in PEI National Park.
Post-tropical storm Fiona has accelerated the timeline for long-term planning in PEI National Park, including facilitating climate change adaptation in already vulnerable coastal areas like Dalvay Beach, Stanhope Main Beach, Robinsons Island and Cavendish Campground.
The map and menu below outline current and upcoming changes to infrastructure and the visitor offer by location. Visitors are advised that construction will be ongoing at various dune crossings in PEI National Park throughout the 2023 operational season. Visitors should not seek to gain access to the beach by walking around broken infrastructure and crossing over the dunes.
1- Homestead TrailThe Homestead Trail was heavily impacted by post-tropical storm Fiona. During winter 2023, one of the bridges that was washed away will be put back in place. Sections of the trail will reopen for the 2023 visitor season; however, the MacNeill loop will not be opening this season.
2- Cavendish CampgroundCavendish Campground was significantly impacted by post-tropical storm Fiona but will open in 2023. As a result of damages sustained, at least 10 unserviced sites in the D (coastal) loop are being decommissioned. The new unserviced campground loop and washroom facility south of Graham’s Lane remains under construction and is scheduled to open in 2023. Stay tuned for information.
3- OceanviewThe lookout platforms at Oceanview were destroyed by post-tropical storm Fiona and new lookouts will not be in place for the 2023 visitor season. Fencing along the northern coastline will be adjusted inland as a result of the bank being undercut. This location will still be available for parking, visitation, Cavendish Dunelands Trail access and sunset viewing.
4- Flat RockThis small turn-around off the Gulf Shore Parkway West sustained erosion and the traffic loop and parking area will be closed. The area will undergo an ecological restoration. The nearest similar coastal viewing area will be at MacNeill’s Brook
5- MacKenzies BrookMacKenzies Brook Arch collapsed after the combined impact of post-tropical storm Fiona and post-tropical depression Nicole. An unstable pile of sandstone rubble is left in this area and sediment is vulnerable to future potential collapse. As a result, the stairs at this location are being removed. The lookout platform close to the shore will remain in place.
6- Orby HeadThe cliffs at Orby Head were severely impacted and undercut by post-tropical storm Fiona. For visitor safety reasons, Orby Head will be closed to vehicular and pedestrian access. Parks Canada will revegetate the driving loop and parking area.
7-Robinson’s Island Road and Trail SystemRobinson’s Island Road and Trail System were heavily impacted by post-tropical storm Fiona and as a result, the visitor experience at Robinson’s Island will be different beginning in 2023. The constructed artificial causeway to Robinson’s Island has repeatedly sustained damage and erosion from wave action and storm surges. During winter/spring 2023, Parks Canada will be proactively removing the asphalt from Robinson’s Island Road and will be creating an unpaved multi-use trail in its place. This work will ensure the asphalt does not get washed into adjacent waterways in future storms. Robinson’s Island Road will be closed to vehicular traffic for the travelling public; emergency response vehicles will continue to have access. Visitors looking to access the Robinson’s Island Trail System in 2023 will be able to park at the Brackley Beach Complex and hike or cycle to the island (a distance of approximately 3.5 kms). There was also significant blow down of trees all across Robinson’s Island. Visitor access has been cut to open up the trails, however, woody debris and uprooted trees and stumps are present throughout the trail network.
8-Shaws BeachA new beach access for Shaws will be constructed in summer 2023. This work will result in delays in visitor access at this site.
9-CoveheadShoreline protection will be installed at eastern and western approaches to Covehead bridge and its abutments. The Gulf Shore Way Multi-use Trail west of Covehead Bridge is being repaired and will reopen for the 2023 operational season. Construction activity and single-lane slow-downs can be expected.
10-Ross Lane BeachAccess to Ross Lane Beach in 2023 will be via temporary stairs at the end of the existing shortened boardwalk.
11- Stanhope Campground/ Stanhope Campground BeachAll campsites that were available in 2022 will be available in 2023 at Stanhope Campground. Visitors will notice significant changes throughout the campground as many trees were lost during post-tropical storm Fiona.
Parks Canada will be protecting the cross culvert with stone near the beach access point across from Stanhope Campground. New stairs will be installed this spring.
12- Stanhope Main BeachThe coastline and beach access at Stanhope Main were dramatically altered as a result of post-tropical storm Fiona. As a result, access to the beach in 2023 will be via temporary stairs which will be installed in the spring. The traditional accessibility features (i.e., ramp and mobility mat) will not be available at this location this summer. Pending completion of repairs, the fully accessible beach offer will continue to be available in Brackley and Cavendish.
13-Dalvay beachDue to ongoing work in the Brackley to Dalvay area, the parking lot at Dalvay Beach will not be available until mid-May. Beach access and parking in the central section of the park are available at Covehead Lighthouse. There are also a few spots at Winter Road by Dalvay Lake to access the Gulf Shore multi-use trail. There will be a single access to the beach via stairs northwest of the parking lot in Dalvay, to be installed in the spring. Visitors will see the former eastern beach access point (boardwalk, stairs, crosswalk) is gone, as is the parking lot on the north side of the Gulf Shore Parkway.
14-Dalvay cornerDue to ongoing work in the Brackley to Dalvay area, the parking lot at Dalvay Beach will not be available until mid-May. Beach access and parking in the central section of the park are available at Covehead Lighthouse. There are also a few spots at Winter Road by Dalvay Lake to access the Gulf Shore multi-use trail. Coastal erosion severely impacted the dunes and roadway in Dalvay, compromising safety where the road was undercut. The damaged roadway has been repaired and a buried revetment (i.e., sloped structure comprised of large stone) is being installed to provide shoreline protection in this area. The revetment will be capped with sand allowing a vegetated dune to regenerate over time. Construction activity should be expected in this area this spring/summer.
When you visit PEI National Park in 2023, we ask for your continued patience and support while our team repairs, protects and conserves Parks Canada administered places on PEI post-Fiona. The park remains an incredibly beautiful and resilient place full of breathtaking views and – especially this year – signs of new growth and change. We are so proud to share it with you and we ask that you do all you can to help it thrive into the future for generations to come. Respect any areas of closure. Pay attention to signs showing safe passage. Be patient with Parks Canada team members as they provide guidance and share information.
We can’t wait to see you again. Come and watch us as we GROW!
Frequently asked questions
Hurricane Fiona impacts
When did post-tropical storm Fiona hit Prince Edward Island?
Post-tropical storm Fiona was a strong post tropical storm that made landfall on Prince Edward Island the night of September 23rd, 2022. It brought heavy rain, strong winds, large waves and a powerful storm surge to the region. The climate station at Red Head, owned by Mi’kmaq Confederacy of PEI, recorded a peak wind speed of 133km/h at 5 a.m. and a peak water level of 2.69m above datum (the tidal reference point) at 5:55am.
As dawn broke on the morning of September 24th, the sun rose over a dramatically changed landscape. All three park regions (Cavendish-North Rustico, Brackley-Dalvay, and Greenwich) experienced significant impacts from post-tropical storm Fiona. As a result, the majority of PEI National Park was closed by order of the Superintendent while assessments were made and rehabilitation work began.
What damage was sustained in PEI National Park and sites administered by Parks Canada?Prince Edward Island National Park experienced significant impacts as a result of post-tropical storm Fiona. Most areas of the park were closed as unmarked hazards and unsafe conditions were present throughout the park including; dangerous trees, undercut and eroded shoreline, washed out roads and pathways, undermined infrastructure and exposed utilities. General impacts throughout the park include the following:
- All areas of the park had significant amounts of downed trees (into the thousands).
- All areas of the park saw significant amounts of coastal erosion. Erosion levels varied by location, but assessments indicated between 3 and 10 metres of shoreline eroded.
- Most trails were impassable due to downed trees and damaged boardwalks, bridges and stairs.
- All beach accesses were affected as boardwalks and dune crossings were either swept away entirely or significantly damaged, rendering them unsafe.
What were the impacts by location?
- Cavendish Campground
- Significant amounts of downed trees and debris in campground.
- Several buildings damaged by water, with one kitchen shelter destroyed.
- Several oTENTik roofs damaged.
- 16 campsites lost (6 2-way, 10 unserviced)
- Significant levels of erosion impacted roads in the campground.
- Cavendish Main Beach
- Main beach access stairs and accessible ramps were significantly damaged.
- Minor damage to the change room and canteen buildings.
- Gulf Shore Parkway West
- Oceanview boardwalk, lookout and interpretive panels destroyed.
- Significant erosion at Flat Rock.
- Damage to coastal access stairs at MacKenzies Brook.
- Iconic MacKenzies Brook Arch was significantly weakened by Fiona and subsequently collapsed during the next heavy wind and rain storm.
- Significant dune erosion at North Rustico beach, Cavendish Main Beach and Cavendish Sandspit.
- Shoreline undercut at Orby Head and Oceanview.
- Flooding and erosion at various coastal pull-offs.
- All dune crossings at beach locations - Brackley, Shaws, Stanhope Cape, Ross Lane, Stanhope Campground, Stanhope Main and Dalvay - were compromised as a result of post-tropical storm Fiona, rendering them unstable or missing entirely.
- Stanhope Beach
- The Stanhope Main Beach access stairs and ramp were completely washed away.
- Severe erosion along the bank has drastically changed the landscape.
- Stanhope Campground
- Stanhope Campground had significant amounts of downed trees and minor damage to campground buildings and infrastructure.
- Roads and Multi-Use Trail
- Several sections of the Gulf Shore Parkway East were damaged due to shoreline erosion.
- Several sections of the Gulf Shore Way Multi Use Trail were washed out.
- Robinsons Island Road suffered erosion.
- Robinsons Island had significant amounts of downed trees, trails were inaccessible and lookouts were destroyed.
- Lookout and northern parking lot at Dalvay Beach were significantly impacted during the storm.
- Trails at Greenwich were impassable due to downed trees.
- The Greenwich floating boardwalk was damaged.
- The Visitor Centre and buildings at Greenwich Main Beach had some minor damage and both stairs were damaged.
Green Gables Heritage Place
- There was significant blowdown at Green Gables Heritage, particularly along the Balsam Hollow and Haunted Wood Trails
- The house, grounds and visitor centre sustained some minor damage.
Ardgowan National Historic Site
- Significant downed trees at Ardgowan National Historic Site.
Skmaqn – Port-la—Joye – Fort Amherst National Historic Site
- Significant downed trees and light damage to some buildings and electrical lines.
How much coastal erosion did PEI National Park see along the north shore?Parks Canada staff assessed the coastal ecosystems and noted significant coastal erosion: between 3 and 10 metres of erosion was lost along the shoreline. PEI National Park encompasses an area of approximately 23.84 km2 and extends over 65kms of shoreline along the north shore of Prince Edward Island between Cavendish and Greenwich.
What preparations did Parks Canada make in advance of post-tropical storm Fiona?Parks Canada ensured all moveable assets were secured. Seasonal beach staircases and ramps were removed in advance of post-tropical storm Fiona. Any construction materials for ongoing projects were stored and secured in advance of the forecasted inclement weather. Equipment that was lightweight was stored indoors, or safely secured. Guests were evacuated and reservations were cancelled at Stanhope and Cavendish Campgrounds and these locations were proactively closed.
Parks Canada fleet vehicles were fueled up, and portable generators were ready for use.
How did Parks Canada respond?Parks Canada team members began assessing the damage in Prince Edward Island National Park and at national historic sites administered by Parks Canada on September 25, 2022, the day after the storm and immediately acknowledged the extent of damage and resulting unsafe conditions, prompting a closure of several park areas. The recovery from post-tropical storm Fiona involved dangerous work, including tree felling and the use of heavy equipment. In addition to focusing on assessing the storm’s impact to park infrastructure, Agency staff documented the impacts to the Park’s landscapes and coastal ecosystems.
On September 29, 2022 Parks Canada dispatched a National Incident Management Team to assist local staff with managing the response. The team consists of incident management experts and additional fire crews from around the country who were skilled in geomatics, logistics, safety, incident command and communications. Additionally, local staff members were dedicated to responding to the incident.
Once the situation in PEI National Park was stabilized, recovery operations transitioned from initial incident response into long-term repair and remediation work. The National Incident Management Team handed responsibility for recovery operations back to the local personnel on October 6, 2022. Parks Canada is now in the long-term repair and clean-up phase of post-Fiona recovery operations.
How did post-tropical storm Fiona compare to post-tropical storm Dorian?Post-tropical storm Dorian hit Prince Edward Island on September 7, 2019. The winds remained high along the coast, which resulted in a significant storm surge. The area most affected was the west end of PEI National Park, in the Cavendish area. There was extensive damage to the inland forest stands, with approximately 80 per cent of trees downed and approximately 2 meters of coastal erosion.
In comparison, post-tropical storm Fiona had province-wide impacts. This storm was much longer, and brought heavy rain, strong winds, large waves and a powerful storm surge. An estimated 3 to 10 metres of erosion was seen along the north shore. Throughout the park, dunes were either entirely swept away or severed off from the intense, sustained wave action.
Trees in the national park were heavily impacted during both weather events. When Dorian hit, most of the forest consisted of monoculture white spruce and they were at the end of their life cycle. As a result, the west end of PEI National Park saw a significant number of fallen trees. Fiona had stronger winds over a wider span of territory, and the forest edges impacted from Dorian were already vulnerable. As a result, Fiona’s winds downed trees throughout all sites administered by Parks Canada. It is important to understand that wind events and trees blowing over are part of natural forest processes that facilitate regeneration. As part of an ongoing Wabanaki-Acadian forest restoration initiatives, Parks Canada team members are planting a more resilient variety of native tree species and shrubs so that large monoculture blowdown events are prevented in the future. Many of the fallen trees will remain in place, providing wildlife habitat (e.g., for snowshoe hare, chipmunks, amphibians and insects) and to facilitate the addition of nutrients to the soil as the trees decompose. The significant number of downed trees has opened up the tree canopy, shedding light on saplings and understory vegetation. Parks Canada is optimistic this will help speed up the process of forest growth and regeneration.
How did this affect the species-at-risk in PEI National Park?PEI National Park ecosystems provide important habitat for many species at risk. Fortunately, Piping Plovers and Bank Swallows were not present during post-tropical storm Fiona, having already migrated south. However, plant species such as Beach Pinweed and Gulf of St. Lawrence Aster were present. The impacts of salt water flooding, powerful wave action and erosion on these species are yet to be determined.
At this time, it is difficult to predict what the exact impact of post-tropical storm Fiona on the species at risk and other wildlife in the park will be. Based on the aftermath of Dorian, it is likely that there will be localized change in habitat in some areas and gain of habitat in others. For example, bank swallows depend on exposed raw cliff/areas where bank has eroded and slumped for habitat; they may return to new or different areas of PEI National Park in light of the material changes to the coastal ecosystem.
Parks Canada ecologists will be closely monitoring coastal ecosystems and species-at-risk over the coming year to gain information on how they have been affected.
Is PEI National Park seeing any signs of recovery following Fiona?Parks Canada met with geomorphologists at Cavendish Main Beach in October, 2022 to survey some dunes that they have been monitoring for a number of years in PEI National Park. The experts were very impressed with how the dunes held up to the storm, and felt the dunes would indeed make a healthy recovery in time and had done their job incredibly well when faced with Fiona- holding onto their vegetation as best as they could and protecting the inland areas. They also noted some marram grass roots that could come back as early as next summer and begin their work of catching sand as it is moved along the beach by the wind. In a couple of years, small fore dunes could form and continue to grow, making their slow march inland.
Parks Canada is also continuing forest restoration work in an effort to create a more diverse ecosystem. The historical natural forest region of PEI, often referred to as the “Wabanaki -Acadian Forest”, is composed of a mix of southern temperate hardwood species and northern boreal species and many understory and plant species. It is important that forest restoration programs promote a diversity of species and age classes because diverse ecosystems are generally better able to cope with the impacts of climate change. A healthy forest with many native tree species can better withstand and recover from natural disturbances like high winds and insect outbreaks. It also provides local wildlife with an environment to live and thrive.
Why should people stay off dunes?Sand dunes are an important habitat and act as a natural protective barrier against the effects of storms and waves. During post-tropical storm Fiona, the dunes ‘did their jobs’ and protected inland areas from the full force of storm surges, powerful wave action and coastal flooding.
Over the course of the summer, hundreds of thousands of visitors frequent beaches in PEI National Park. Frequent foot traffic on non-designated dune crossings and on vegetated sand dunes has a negative and cumulative effect. Sand dunes, even when stable, can be easily damaged. Walking on dunes eliminates the protective plant cover. Once the protective plant cover is gone, the wind blows away the exposed sand and carves small depressions into giant holes called blowouts. Blowouts turn stable dunes into constantly shifting hills, unable to support vegetation or wildlife. Natural coastal processes are at work to build sand dunes back up. Such processes take years. During this vulnerable phase of regrowth, it is extra important that the dunes are given the space and time they need to build and revegetate. Sand dunes are a resource we could easily lose if we are not careful. Staying off the dunes is one way visitors can help ‘reduce their footprint’ on the natural environment. A full dune closure remains in effect for PEI National Park. Visitors must not walk over dunes for any reason. Please be aware of all dunes, both the obvious remaining dunes, as well as embryonic (baby dunes) in the early stages of development, where sand is starting to accumulate at the base of sheered dune faces and cliffs. These young dunes require extra care.
What will Parks Canada be doing with all of the fallen/cleared trees?Parks Canada has stockpiled the harvested wood from the roads and campgrounds and will be processing it for campground firework over the coming years. We are also looking for additional ways to use the wood, including donating it to heat schools that have biomass boilers. Fallen trees in the forest will remain in place to facilitate important ecosystem processes such as decomposition, nutrient cycling and regeneration. Wildfire risk will continue to be monitored by Parks Canada Wildfire Specialists and FireSmart interventions will be implemented in priority areas if necessary.
What is open/what is closed
Will PEI National Park and Stanhope and Cavendish campgrounds reopen in 2023?PEI National Park, Stanhope and Cavendish Campgrounds and the National Historic Sites administered by Parks Canada will all be open for business in 2023. Many of these places will look very different to visitors as post-tropical storm Fiona left a profound mark on coastal and forested areas of PEI National Park. You may have feelings of shock, surprise or sadness in seeing how different some of these places look. We know because our Parks Canada team members share those same feelings. But here is the good news: nature is amazing. The very forces of the wind and waves that changed the beaches, cliffs and dunes were the very ones that formed them in the first place. They are also the forces that will see those things regenerate.
More details of the visitor offer for the 2023 operational season will be available in coming months. Camping reservations will be available as of March 18.
What sections of the park are open?While visitors are welcome to explore the park by foot, snowshoe or skis, PEI National Park facilities and trails are not maintained in the winter and only limited emergency services are provided by Parks Canada. In case of an emergency in the national park call 911. To report a non-emergency issue (e.g., facility damage, wildlife concern, law enforcement issue), call Parks Canada Dispatch at 1-877-852-3100.
Parks Canada plows the Gulf Shore Parkway between Cavendish to North Rustico and Covehead to Dalvay, as well as several parking areas in the national park, including the Greenwich Interpretation Centre, Dalvay Administrative Office, Bubbling Springs/Farmlands Trailhead, North Rustico Beach (paved section), Macneills Brook, and Cavendish Beach.
Beach access is currently permitted at two locations: Covehead Lighthouse beach and North Rustico beach. As repairs are completed, additional beach accesses will be available.
Please see question below for sections of the park that are barricaded.
What sections of the park remain barricaded?A full dune closure remains in effect for PEI National Park. Visitors must not walk over dunes for any reason.
Barricades remain in place at the following locations:
- From Brackley to Covehead, PEI National Park (including Robinsons Island)
- All beach accesses - except Covehead Lighthouse Beach and North Rustico Beach
- Some look-offs and parking lots along the Gulf Shore Parkway West
All other beach accesses remain barricaded due to safety concerns. Visitors must not attempt to access the coast from other locations. Visitors should not seek to gain access to the beach by walking around broken infrastructure and crossing over the dunes.
Please abide by all closures, signage and barricades; they are there for your safety.
When will Covehead Bridge reopen? When will beach accesses reopen?Our goal is to have Covehead Bridge open to single lane traffic by spring and beach accesses open for the operating season, but that will depend on contractor availability. More updates will be provided in the coming months.
Short and long term recovery plans
What are the short-term plans?Visitor safety is of the utmost importance to Parks Canada. Parks Canada team members are working hard to reopen all areas so they can be enjoyed by Islanders and visitors.
Parks Canada recently reopened a section of the Gulf Shore Parkway East from Dalvay to Covehead Lighthouse. Dalvay Corner was heavily impacted- 10 m of dune eroded, leaving critical infrastructure vulnerable. When looking at options for this area, we weighed a number of factors: scientific data, climate change realities, species at risk and habitat, prudence in managing taxpayer dollars, visitor experience impacts and alignment with the overall direction outlined in the PEI National Park Management Plan were considered. Management decisions are founded on Parks Canada’s legislated mandate and commitment – as a first priority – to protect ecological integrity and are informed by extensive studies, years of monitoring and scientific data.
As a short-term interim solution, a buried granite revetment covered by a vegetated sand dune will be in place to protect the Gulf Shore Parkway infrastructure while Parks Canada undertakes long-term planning. We recognise that there are other assets and infrastructure vulnerable to erosion in coastal areas like Dalvay Beach, Stanhope Main Beach, Robinsons Island and Cavendish Campground. These will be considered as we begin planning for a more long-term staged retreat from the coastline.
- Other short-term plans include:
- Temporary access stairs to coast at Stanhope Main Beach/no accessible offer (i.e. no ramps or mobility mats) in 2023
- Installation of temporary stairs to access the coast at remaining boardwalk at Ross Lane
- Armouring of the roadway at Stanhope beach and Covehead Bridge
- Delayed opening of Shaw’s Beach in 2023 until such time as a new dune crossing can be constructed at this location
- Removal of asphalt on Robinsons Island Road and creation of natural multi-use trail
For more updates and short term plans, please see menu and chart at the top of the page .
What is a buried revetment?A revetment is an exposed or buried sloped structure comprised of large stone to prevent or lessen the damage of coastal erosion along a bank or shoreline. For Dalvay, rip rap is being used, which consists of granite and limestone and a vegetated sand dune will be on top of it.
Canadian Standards Association recognizes ‘buried revetments’ as a best practice nature-based solution (‘NbS’) for coastal and riverine flood and erosion risk management. “NbS for coastal and riverine flood and erosion risk management are strategies or measures that depend on, or mimic, natural system processes to provide flood and erosion risk management function, while delivering a suite of environmental and other societal co-benefits. NbS embrace the principles of “whole system” analysis, adaptive management, multi-disciplinary teams, innovation, and long-term planning for uncertainty. They can be deployed through sustainable planning and regulatory frameworks that recognize the value of natural assets and infrastructure in supporting risk management objectives (e.g., Integrated Water Resources Management and Integrated Coastal Zone Management), and/or the targeted deployment of nature-based features to provide specific flood and erosion risk management functions.”
How is Parks Canada preparing PEI National Park for future weather events?Over the coming months, Parks Canada will work to repair damaged infrastructure as well as to develop plans to mitigate damage from future storms.
Parks Canada ecologists are closely assessing the storm damage to park ecosystems. The results of that assessment will be used to inform future conservation efforts for PEI National Park.
Parks Canada is in the process of long-term plans which including looking at climate change data and vulnerable areas of PEI National Park.
What are some long-term plans? Will there be public engagement?Planning for the management and recreational use of this environment is based on the knowledge that the Park area is a dynamic resource, and that today’s configuration may be different from the environment of tomorrow. Management decisions are founded on Parks Canada’s legislated mandate and commitment – as a first priority – to protect ecological integrity and are informed by extensive studies, years of monitoring and scientific data.
The most recent PEI National Park Management Plan was prepared in 2017. This plan was prepared following extensive consultation and input from various people and organizations, including: Indigenous Peoples; municipal governments and/or development corporations for communities neighbouring the park; academic institutions; provincial government departments; environmental groups; cultural organizations; provincial and regional tourism associations; recreational groups; lease and license holders; local and regional residents; visitors and Parks Canada staff. This plan emphasizes the importance of focussing on “long term natural and cultural conservation gains, address[ing] aging infrastructure” and the incorporation of climate change research and predictions into management decisions. The 2017 plan includes the stated objectives that “coastal erosion is managed by restoration and retreat as a first priority” and “facilities/infrastructure at risk due to coastal erosion are relocated inland to ensure visitor safety and natural/cultural resource protection.”
Long-term planning is ongoing for PEI National Park. There will be engagement opportunities in the future.
Storms and climate change
How is climate change impacting PEI National Park?Climate change impacts to Parks Canada-administered places are complex, and the Agency is committed to integrating climate change mitigation and adaptation actions into its work.
The species and ecosystems that naturally occur within PEI National Park are present because they have successfully adapted to the natural processes and climate that define this dynamic, ever-changing place. Climate change will affect all of the species and ecosystems within PEI National Park in different ways, including in many ways that we do not yet fully understand. For example, a decline in nearshore ice during the winter months may result in an increase in the amount of coastal erosion that occurs over the winter months, as the natural ice barrier is not present to help withstand the wave energy from winter storms. This may result in accelerated erosion in some areas of the park, while there is increased accretion of sand and dunes form in other areas of the park. Parks Canada closely continues to monitor climate change impacts in PEI National Park, and refines monitoring programs to better understand how species and ecosystems are responding to the impacts of climate change.
How significant of a problem is coastal erosion at PEI National Park?Erosion is a natural process that is common in all coastal areas of national parks and national historic sites. The rate of coastal erosion is increasing as a result of climate change impacts like sea level rise, the increased frequency and severity of extreme weather events, and the reduction of winter nearshore ice.
In PEI National Park, coastal erosion is a natural process that we monitor closely across the park’s entire shoreline. Our coastal dunes and beaches are dynamic and always in motion due to the wind, rain and tides. A natural balance of sediment removal and supply results in a relatively stable shoreline position. If the sediment budget is not balanced, shoreline areas are prone to erosion or accretion. Coastal erosion is the process that wears away the shoreline material, causing the coastline to retreat inland. The susceptibility of a shoreline to erosion depends on its composition and exposure to coastal processes. As the climate changes, we will closely monitor the impacts of rising sea level and increased frequency and severity of extreme weather events on PEI National Park’s shorelines. When you visit PEI National Park, you can help us track these changes by taking a Coastie.
What is being done to combat coastal erosion at Parks Canada administered places?Coastal erosion and sand movement are naturally occurring processes that are characteristic of a healthy coastal ecosystem. Since these natural processes are entirely characteristic of a healthy shoreline in PEI National Park, we accept the changes that they bring, and continue to monitor the rate of coastal erosion so that we can develop and implement climate resilient plans.
Parks Canada is closely monitoring coastal erosion, and managing it on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes this involves retreating exposed coastal assets, or testing new types of buildings that can be easily relocated. Last year in PEI National Park Parks Canada launched the ‘Bunkie’ – a new, easily moveable visitor accommodation that can be picked up and relocated to successfully adapt as the coastline shifts.
What are some examples of the actions Parks Canada is undertaking to mitigate the impacts of climate change?Canada’s network of protected areas plays an important role in helping to mitigate the impacts of climate change by protecting and restoring healthy, resilient ecosystems and contributing to the recovery of species at risk. Examples of actions Parks Canada undertakes to mitigate the impacts of climate change include:
- Sustainable, green sources of energy (e.g., solar photovoltaic panels on entrance kiosks at several locations in PEI National Park)
- Advanced preparedness for severe weather events (e.g., post-tropical storms)
- Electrical vehicle charging stations and electrical fleet vehicles
- Climate resilient infrastructure and placement (e.g., off-grid movable Bunkies at Cavendish and Stanhope Campgrounds)
- Dune restoration efforts (including through the use of Christmas trees) in locations within PEI National Park that have experienced degradation due to human use
- Partnership with the Canadian Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation to advance climate change related research priorities using the Greenwich adjunct of PEI National Park as a living laboratory.
Are severe storms like post-tropical storm Dorian and post-tropical storm Fiona the result of climate change?It is not uncommon for post-tropical storms to reach Atlantic Canada in the fall. What we do know is that as the climate changes, we can expect the frequency and severity of extreme storms to intensify. One of the known impacts of climate change on coastal locations such as PEI is a potential increase in the rate of coastal erosion. Parks Canada will continue to monitor increasing rates of erosion over time and implement meaningful mitigations for the impacts of climate change on Parks Canada administered sites.
What can visitors do?
In 2023 and beyond, remember this: your footsteps matterGive our dunes space to grow. Stay back from all dune areas. Watch for "baby" dunes and new growth of spiky marram grass. Stay away. Be mindful of signage guiding you. It’s there for a reason. Walk only on designated pathways. Don't make exceptions.
We encourage you to take the Park Promise and make a commitment to protecting the environment so it can be enjoyed by future generations.
View archived Fiona updates.
Do you have any comments or questions? Please feel free to reach out: 902-566-5070
Thank you for protecting PEI's sand dunes
0:00 [birds chirping, waves in the distance] 0:03 [birds chirping, waves in the distance] Sand dunes are a beautiful part of Prince Edward Island's landscape, and an important part of its coastal ecosystem. 0:13 [birds chirping, waves in the distance] We asked for your help to preserve them. You listened. 0:20 [birds chirping, waves in the distance] Wela'lioq — Thank you... ...for staying off the dunes. 0:28 [waves in the distance] We all have a part to play. 0:31 [waves in the distance] Parks Canada, Island Nature Trust, Nature Conservancy Canada
0:00 [birds chirping, waves in the distance]
0:03 [birds chirping, waves in the distance]
Sand dunes are a beautiful part of Prince Edward Island's landscape, and an important part of its coastal ecosystem.
0:13 [birds chirping, waves in the distance]
We asked for your help to preserve them. You listened.
0:20 [birds chirping, waves in the distance]
Wela'lioq — Thank you... ...for staying off the dunes.
0:28 [waves in the distance]
We all have a part to play.
0:31 [waves in the distance]
Parks Canada, Island Nature Trust, Nature Conservancy Canada
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