Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation (MTO) has started a months-long project along Hwy. 118 between Haliburton and Carnarvon.

“The purpose of this rehabilitation is to improve the safety and operation of Hwy. 118, including pavement rehabilitation, slope stabilization, and improvements to intersections, drainage and guide rails,” said a spokesperson for the ministry July 26.

Contracted workers have cut trees from more than 300 feet of waterfront adjacent to the roadway beside the Gardens of Haliburton.

For some Highlands residents, the sight of the tree clearing was alarming.

Susan Hay of Environment Haliburton! struggled to find out what work was occurring. She said the County of Haliburton and Dysart et al could not provide further information since the highway is provincially maintained.

“You would think that MTO would have notified someone in the community that a project of this size was going to take place,” said Hay, who eventually contacted the ministry.

Hay said she understood the necessity of the road maintenance project, but “it seems tragic that all those trees had to come down all the way to the shoreline. Not just for the trees and the stabilization of the shoreline but for the herons and other wildlife that those trees provided habitat for. And, for the beauty and the character that the trees gave to the lake.”

Further projects along the highway are scheduled to be completed by the fall.

The MTO did not respond to questions about how crews would mitigate the impact of tree clearing on local wildlife, or whether notice was given to residents, before deadline.

The MTO encouraged residents and travellers to visit 511on.ca or twitter.com/511Ontario for updates regarding the work and any impacts to traffic. This information can also be accessed from the Ontario 511 app.