Tag Archives: Milton

Wildlife Fencing: Road Ecology in Milton

Written by: Richard Baxter, Terrestrial Planning Ecologist

Roads endanger wildlife and human life. Wildlife collisions, especially involving larger animals, damage our vehicles, and can also injure and sometimes kill us. Since wildlife corridors are cut off by impending urban sprawl and criss-crossing networks of cement and pavement, wildlife have no other choice but to make use of our highways. Driving to work in the morning now means we share the road with turtles, raccoons, and deer.  Not only are wildlife collisions occasionally fatal, but they are also costly. Every year, nearly 40 million dollars in property damages from 14,000 wildlife collisions happens in Ontario alone. How do we balance a burgeoning human population, and subsequent development, with environmental impacts?  How do we reduce costs to the environment, damage to property, and avoidable mortality?  The answer to these questions is ‘Road Ecology’–an evolving field that studies the interactions of wildlife and the environment with our roads.

Previously in Ontario, little thought was given to environmental or wildlife impacts when designing and building roads. However, as both human populations and the knowledge of our impacts increase, so do our opportunities for better road design. This has led to research into low-cost, but highly effective solutions to mitigate impacts to and from wildlife. A variety of strategies have been developed that can be employed, depending on a given situation. Each situation will have a unique set of circumstances that must be considered: What wildlife species are most abundant in a location? Are there wetlands surrounding the road? Is there an abundant local deer population frequently crossing the road?

Roads can be attractive to certain wildlife species. Snapping turtles often use gravel road shoulders to nest, and snakes are attracted to warm surfaces for regulation of body temperature. On the other hand, roads cause avoidance effects in some wildlife; some forest birds will not cross large openings, and a forest fragmented by roads deeply impacts their living space. Many of us have seen dead turtles and snakes on roads, and it is well documented that forest birds are less abundant where woodlots have been fragmented and reduced in size, often partly due to the effects of roads.

Bullfrog on the road

Bullfrog on the road

The building and use of roads leads to fragmentation of natural areas, interruption of wildlife migratory routes, and direct mortality to wildlife though collisions with vehicles. Depending on the species of wildlife involved and their life history characteristics, road mortality can have major impacts on local populations: especially vulnerable populations are the herptiles like turtles, snakes, frogs and salamanders. Since development significantly impacts migrations of local wildlife, wildlife resort to crossing our roadways, and can occasionally become an unwitting cause of human mortality; for example when collisions occur with larger animals like deer, or when drivers lose control reacting to an animal on the road.

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Within Halton Region and the GTA, the pace of development has been high in recent years, with several residential and industrial developments springing up and some major road extensions and reroutes being planned and constructed. This has spurred cooperation between agencies (local Municipal and Regional planning authorities, Conservation Authorities and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry) to incorporate road design elements that are more wildlife friendly in priority areas. Indeed, several of these local agencies are actively engaged in road ecology studies and development of strategies to reduce impacts. Local planning policy updates have been implemented in Halton Region, that include the development of a Natural Heritage System (under Regional Official Plan Amendment  38) with an emphasis on maintaining connectivity and linkages in the landscape, and the Town of Oakville is developing a Road Ecology Strategy. Conservation Halton is also actively collecting data on various culverts and bridges in the watershed and how they relate to wildlife crossing.

Snapping Turtle

Snapping Turtle

Depending on a given sites specifications, we can recommend several low-cost but effective methods to mitigate wildlife collisions, and reduce environmental impacts. These can include signage to alert motorists to vulnerable species on certain stretches of road; wildlife fencing (both to exclude wildlife from dangerous areas and to guide wildlife to a safer crossing site); and specially designed culverts and bridges; these mitigations are often applied in combination. In certain cases a road can be seasonally closed to allow for wildlife migrations. A local example of this is King Road in Burlington, which has been annually closed to traffic in the spring since 2012 to allow the Endangered Jefferson’s Salamander to complete its migration to breeding ponds. Though the design and implementation of these mitigations is a relatively new thing in Ontario, they have been employed in other areas for several years, for example Banff, Alberta and several European countries.

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You can see a recent, and local example of specially designed culverts and wildlife exclusion fencing in our watershed off of Tremaine Road and Main Street on the west side of Milton. The wildlife fencing guides herptiles and smaller mammals like raccoons away from potential high traffic zones and into crossing culverts, and larger culverts with guiding walls and dry banks are present to provide passageways for bigger wildlife species like deer and coyotes. In fact, we observed raccoon droppings in a crossing culvert during a recent site inspection. This exciting observation shows us that animals are already using the wildlife culverts—even while the culverts and fencing are still under construction. Future study and monitoring of these mitigation efforts will be important in determining their effectiveness. Our hope is that resourceful and easy to enact solutions like special culverts and fencing will protect our natural heritage, and balance the needs of wildlife and us.

 

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Are you prepared?

This week in Canada is Emergency Preparedness Week, a time to think about getting prepared for something we hope never happens. The time you take to get prepared will be invaluable should you and your family experience a major disaster, be it weather-related or other causes.

Kelso Reservoir

Kelso Reservoir

There have been severe weather events in our community in recent years, but generally the effects are localized and fairly short-term. But you don’t have to go very far back, or very far away, to see the impacts of severe weather, the flooding in Muskoka in April is just one recent example. This week, while we are being reminded to get prepared, they are on alert for flooding and forest fires in other parts of Canada.

Many people in the watershed become familiar with Conservation Halton through our recreation and education programs. They have gone hiking or camping at a conservation area, or perhaps their children have taken a field trip to Crawford Lake or a maple syrup program.

Perhaps not as well known is that Conservation Halton provides a water control and flood warning program to reduce the risk of property damage and loss of life due to flooding. These flood messages help safeguard the public from risk around creeks and streams that can be filled with dangerous, fast-moving water during heavy storms.

Conservation Halton is responsible for the maintenance and operation of four major dams (Kelso, Hilton Falls, Scotch Block and Mountsberg dams) and 12.5 kilometers of flood control channels (Sixteen Mile Creek through Milton, Morrison-Wedgewood diversion in Oakville and the Rambo-Hager diversion in Burlington).

When flooding is possible or about to occur, Conservation Halton issues flood messages to municipal emergency management officials, school boards, police and EMS as well as the media. The municipal officials then take action to warn local residents.

You can learn more about Conservation Halton’s Water Control and Flood Warning Program by clicking below or watching the Conservation Halton Minute video:

The month of May marks Emergency Preparedness Week. This annual designation provides a time to highlight the role that your local government plays in emergency management including public education, preparedness, planning, practice and partnerships. In the event of an emergency, responders are on the scene dealing with the impact of the event. For this reason, it is important for everyone to consider the actions they can take now to mitigate the impact on themselves and their loved ones and be prepared to assume responsibility for their own care and well-being for the first 72 hours.

The Government of Canada website, http://www.getprepared.ca, includes information, tips, links, checklists, videos and more to help you get prepared. Conservation Halton’s Watershed municipal partners also have some helpful emergency preparedness information:

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Maple Snowflakes + Moose droppings

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It’s Maple Syrup Time @ Crawford Lake and Mountsberg from now until April 7th 2013. Nom, nom, nom!

 What is maple butter you ask? Well, to start it isn’t butter! At least not in the most commonly used sense – it contains absolutely no dairy. In fact, maple butter contains only one ingredient – maple syrup! The maple syrup is heated to approximately 110 degrees Celsius, cooled to 52 degrees Celsius and then whipped until it achieves a texture similar to peanut butter. The result is creamy and smooth and melt in your mouth delicious!

Teresa Rigg, one of our Mountsberg Resource Interpreters graciously agreed to take a jar of maple butter home to experiment with and below are the tasty treats she brought in for us to share. They didn’t last long around the staff table…

Teresa started simple with a tasty sandwich cookie she called Maple Snowflakes

Ingredients:

Pizzelle cookies (maple flavoured if you can find them!)
Maple Butter

Spread a thin layer of maple butter on one of the cookies, then put another on top to make a sandwich. The hardest part was spreading the maple butter without breaking the very thin cookies. Enjoy immediately!

Her second recipe is perfect for kids with a fantastic gross-out look and title but with a taste that is good enough that adults can overlook it!

Moose Droppings

Ingredients:

½ cup butter
½ cup milk
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup maple butter
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
3 cup oatmeal (not instant)

1. Combine butter, milk, unsweetened cocoa powder, maple butter and sugar in a pot over medium heat to create a syrup.
2. Simmer for 3 minutes.
3. Add the vanilla and oatmeal
4. Drop the batter by the spoonful onto a wax paper lined tray and allow to cool.

They won’t win any prizes for their beauty but the texture was nice and crunchy without being too crumbly. They made a delicious maple treat!

You can give yourself some green points for this recipe too! The original called for two cups of sugar – maple butter/syrup is an excellent locally sourced sugar substitute! Something to remember when substituting maple butter/syrup for sugar is that is that maple is twice as sweet as sugar, and has a moisture content that sugar does not. Reducing the amount of liquid in a recipe can help make sure that the texture turns out the way you expect. Using maple rather than sugar can also mean that the baked good comes out denser and browner in colour. Best of all, you can usually taste the maple flavour quite distinctly in the finished product.

Happy maple baking and stay tuned for something savoury in the next installment – maple vinegar. It tastes much better than it sounds – we promise on our sugar maples!

Maple Syrup Calendar

Have any great maple recipes? Comment below, Facebook us or Tweet us! We might just share ‘em here!

MAPLE SYRUP TIME is on now until April 7th 2013. For all programming and information about Crawford Lake’s Sweetwater Festival and Mountsberg’s Maple Towne, click here!

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Maple is More than Pancakes

Christmas TownMaple 136

It’s Maple Syrup Time @ Crawford Lake and Mountsberg from now until April 7th 2013. Nom, nom, nom!

Maple season is in full swing! The trees are tapped and the sap is starting to flow, soon the Mountsberg evaporator will be working overtime to churn out gallons of sticky sweet syrup.

Now the question is – what to do with it all? There are only so many pancakes a person can realistically eat without needing to go up a pant size (truth be told, some of these recipes are so good we might need to go up a pant size even without the pancakes!).

For the month or March we will be revealing all our staff’s favourite non-pancake maple recipes featuring the incredible maple products from the Mountsberg gift shop. From maple butter to maple vinegar and maple chipotle bbq sauce to maple balsamic mustard; life sure is tasty when you enjoy maple syrup in creative and interesting ways!

Our first foray into the culinary delights of maple syrup keeps it simple!

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I was looking for something tasty to enjoy with my six year old while watching a movie this weekend. We decided to give maple popcorn a try. We broke out our trusty Whirley-Pop (stove-top popcorn maker available from Lee Valley) and in a few minutes had a savoury/sweet treat that we couldn’t stop munching. In fact, next time I think we will have to use separate bowls to keep us from battling it out over the last few kernels. Here is our stove-top recipe but if you don’t have a Whirley Pop – check out the link below for an alternate rendition using air popped kernels.

Whirley-Pop method ingredients

3 tbsp canola oil
2tbsp maple syrup – any grade will do!
1/3 cup popcorn kernels
Salt to taste

Directions

Combine oil and maple syrup in the bottom of the pan and place over medium heat. Allow the oil to heat for a minute and then add the popcorn kernels. Agitate the popcorn kernels using the hand crank  – this is important – the kernels get quite sticky and need to keep moving to avoid burning. It will take a few minutes for the kernels to start to pop. Once the popping subsides to one or two per second  remove from the heat. When the kernels have completely stopped popping remove the lid and give the mixture a sprinkle of salt. Transfer to a serving bowl – or two or three… and enjoy!

Yield: 4-6 servings

Air pop method ingredients

5 cups air popped popcorn
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 T butter or vegetable oil

Directions

Lightly butter or oil the inside of a bowl or casserole dish large enough to hold the popcorn. Butter a large mixing spoon. Set aside.

Place maple syrup, in a heavy-bottomed, non-reactive sauce pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and continue boiling until the mixture reaches 236 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Place popcorn in the mixing bowl and drizzle the hot caramel over the popcorn. Working quickly, stir with oiled spoon until all popcorn is coated with caramel.

Cool and store in airtight containers or enjoy immediately.

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 Have any great maple recipes? Comment below, Facebook us or Tweet us! We might just share ’em here!

MAPLE SYRUP TIME is on now until April 7th 2013. For all programming and information about Crawford Lake’s Sweetwater Festival and Mountsberg’s Maple Towne, click here!

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Halton Children’s Water Festival 2012


We asked Halton Children’s Water Festival coordinator, Meagan Byrne (@meg_i_Byrne), to guest blog about her experience planning and organizing the 2012 Halton Children’s Water Festival. Meagan had the job of filling in for a maternity leave half-way through and had to hit the ground running. She’s done a great job and here are her thoughts about the lead up to the festival:

“The final week has begun and the entire HCWF team is in overdrive mode. These are the times I like the best, because when you have months to work on details it is easy have your excitement for the event wane. Well this week will certainly make up for that!

This week a lot happened. The new HCWF website went live, the tents went up, the activity materials were dusted off, and newly purchased items are coming in every day. This can all come together so well because of my amazing co-workers and the hard work of the HCWF committee. Each person puts in so much to get this festival going every year it’s hard to think how I could do it without them.

One of the things I have enjoyed most about this job is working on our new website. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s been amazing being part of such a great project. It’s had its difficulties, there’s nothing more frustrating than writing out a block of text only to realise that you have added an extra space or forgotten to add a link. But when it’s done and you can see your hard work, well, there’s nothing like website development to make you feel like your effort has had a tangible effect.

In the end any event, no matter how small, is always the end result of a lot of effort and it is the event planner’s lot to always be thinking “Okay it’s over and went well….What’s next?” I know that once the event starts and everything is going smoothly, I too will be thinking wistfully “What’s next?”

So what do you guys think of the new website? http://www.hcwf.ca We’d love to hear your thoughts!

We would like to thank the HCWF sponsors for all their support.

  • AECOM
  • Aird & Berlis
  • City of Burlington
  • Cole Engineering
  • GE Power & Water
  • Town of Halton Hills
  • Town of Milton
  • Nalco
  • R.V. Anderson Associates
  • Storage Solutions
  • Thomson Rogers

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And the winners are…

Last week we held a Facebook-only Family Day giveaway asking you to tell what we had going on at our conservation areas for the long weekend. It’s one of the first giveaways we’ve done and the response was great! We told you that we would reward 10 of our fans at random (via random.org) and here are the winners:
 
 
As seen above, they will receive an assortment of Glen Eden vouchers + perhaps some other goodies thrown in for good measure. Thanks for being great champions of Conservation Halton and Glen Eden!
 
1. Sherri M 
2. Pat D
3. Lindsay G
4. Lynn L
5. Lisa M
6. William L.
7. Natalye M.
8. Anna R.

 

Your prizes are in the mail!
 
BUT, we’re still waiting on:
 
1. Gavin Smith
2. Tara Jeles
 
If your name is listed here, please contact us ASAP with your mailing information and full name at web[at]hrca.on.ca – we want to have these sent out to you as quick as possible! Thanks again and congrats!
 
Didn’t win this time? Don’t fret. We have more competitions and giveaways up our sleeves. Just like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for exclusives! 

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Two fantastic Family Day festivals at Crawford Lake and Mountsberg

Snow today, gone tomorrow: that’s been the theme this unseasonally mild and dry winter for most Ontarians. It’s snow big deal as Crawford Lake and Mountsberg gear up for Family Day weekend!
 
Details behind the jump including what the heck a snowsnake is!

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