For those that don’t know The Friends of the St Francis Nature Areas known as FOSTER – was established some 35 years ago. This voluntary organisation shoulders the bulk of the management role for the Seal Bay, Cape St Francis, Irma Booysen & Seal Point Nature Areas, some 330-hectars. These wonderful green gems offer a choice of hiking and cycling trails through various coastal habitats from rocky shores, beaches, and salt-stunted vegetation to dune fynbos, thickets, and small patches of true dune forests.

FOSTER has had a very busy year clearing paths, maintaining the reserves and firebreaks, and eliminating aliens – so welcome to a safer, cleaner, and user-friendly reserve network. Thank you to all our members and those that have supported us in so many ways.

Some of the firebreaks in the Irma Booysen Reserve which will protect properties and lives when the next fire comes.

FOSTER also revamped its website this year and the new website contains a wealth of information including the details of the many trails to be found in the reserves and easy to download maps and tabs to help you to identify a plant or animal species and general information about the reserves and FOSTER. Our best kept secret is the revamped TWO Bay Trail, easily accessible from both St Francis Bay (Otters Landing) and Cape St Francis with stunning views of both bays and villages and the surrounding areas including the Cockscomb, on a clear day.

The new 9 trail maps make the routes easy to follow and give an indication of the time the average person will take to walk them, the difficulty level, and the length of the trail. The cycle routes are also marked on the maps. Some of the trails are for multi-use, others for pedestrians only and there are also dedicated cycling paths. We appeal to all the users of our reserves to respect the signage and use the paths as they have been designated and the St Francis Cycling club recently put out this note: –

The St Francis Bay Cycling Club and FOSTER have been working together over the last few months to formalise the cycling routes through the various reserves in the area.

As a result, some clearly marked Cycling (and No-Cycling) signs have been placed in the reserves and on some of the roads to ensure that cyclists clearly understand where they should ride and to reduce the impact on pedestrian and vehicle congestion in busy areas. We urge our local communities to support (and cyclists to obey) these routes and request that anyone witnessing any transgressions to please contact the cycling club or FOSTER directly. Many thanks.

Visit the website www.foster.org.za to find out more and plan your next walk, hike or run, the ideal thing to do when the weather is not ideal for the beach.

FOSTER does the essential maintenance and conservation work that by law should be done by the Kouga Municipality and the Eastern Cape government, without any government funding. Our funding is entirely from supporters and volunteers. Becoming a member is so easy and includes a scanning option for payment. It’s just R300 per year for a family and makes a great Christmas present for a friend or loved one, just visit www.foster.org.za or simply Google – foster cape st francis and know the money will be well spent.

Have a fantastic holiday season with your families and loved ones

So, on Friday at about 10h00, I finished the piece above and sent it to the Craig the editor with the request that he publish this on Monday. Then around 13h00 I get a WhatsApp message that the no cycling signage we erected in the Cape St Francis Reserve on Monday had disappeared. Really – logs that weigh around 25 KG’s and buried in the ground! Unfortunately, yes some entitled vandals who obviously feel that the reserves belong to them and not the greater community of St Francis, yet make no contribution to their upkeep or the maintenance of the trails.

One of the vandalized signs thrown deep into the bush by some “angry” people

 

We managed to find two of the 5 signs in virtually impregnatable bush which we retrieved very carefully. As for the others they have either been removed which is unlikely or thrown deeper into the bush.

Are these the same people that vandalized the cycling club signage or others?  It does not really matter, it’s the kind of people we would rather not have here and when we catch you, as someone will take a picture of you vandalizing public property on their cell phone at some point, we will not only name and shame you put prosecute you and ensure that you get a criminal record for life.

But now for some good news; the Cycling Cub with the help of Wenzel Coetzer of Conservation Outcomes and Trevor Gascoyne from FOSTER have created a trail map of all the cycling trails in our area which will be available at the new Coimbra Cycling Center or on the FOSTER website next week. There is a large network of trails that have been created for the enjoyment of all cyclists, irrespective of skill level at considerable cost and there is no reason or need for anyone to cycle on the dedicated walking paths.

The new cycle trail map available at COIMBRA Cycle Center or at foster.org.za

So please let’s continue to work together for the benefit of all and avoid further nastiness or legal action and enjoy what the area has to offer.