Tag Archives: Restoration

The Return of Wildlife: Wetland Restoration at Conservation Halton

Written by: Karlee May, Digital Media Coordinator, with contributions from Chelsea McIsaac, Watershed Restoration Technician

Wildlife is coming back. Volunteers and staff of Conservation Halton were busy this past fall restoring protected wetlands. We need to protect our wetlands because healthy wetlands are resilient in the face of climate change and development. Staff at Conservation Halton  are dedicated to preserving and protecting our natural heritage through shoreline planting, wetland planting, and building fish habitat on our protected wetlands like Kelso Quarry Lake.

This past autumn the Watershed Restoration team and volunteers worked together on four separate occasions to restore wetlands in order to encourage biodiversity to thrive.

Their efforts are already paying off! An Eastern Newt, in eft stage, was recently spotted by staff on the shoreline of Kelso Quarry Lake. Newts aren’t necessarily an indicator species, but they are a healthy sign of high quality water. Newts breathe through their skin which means that newts will not thrive in a less-than-ideal wetland environment.

At Kelso Quarry Lake, Conservation Halton staff and volunteers have been busy building fish habitat structures. A natural lake, in this area, would have features such as fallen trees, stumps, branches, and leaves within the lake and on the shoreline. Since Kelso Quarry Lake isn’t a naturally formed lake, we have to introduce those missing features, in the form of habitats, into the lake. The habitat structures, built by volunteers and staff, will provide places where spawning fish can lay their eggs, and juvenile fish can hatch. Thirty volunteers came out to create the structures by building log cribs out of cedar logs, brush, and Christmas trees. Instead of letting  Christmas trees go to waste, we put them back into use in nature. The log cribs are stood up vertically. This placement is necessary to provide different heights for different fish uses. We will install the structures at a later date near areas where fish spawn.

Did you know a ‘shoal’ is a collection of rocks and sand where fish lay their eggs?

Volunteers also planted 1300 trees and shrubs on the Kelso Quarry Lake shoreline. Trees provide cover and also keep the temperature of the water cool. The trees help more wildlife than just the fish taking cover in the water. Other wildlife will hide from predators under the tree branches, and drink from the water. The trees also naturally support the food chain. Invertebrates eat on the fallen leaves and twigs and then the fish feast on the invertebrates. Shoreline vegetation is so important and supports the overall health of the ecosystem.

Shoreline planting, and fish habitats are not the only measures to restore the wetlands. The wetlands need aquatic plants to feed and shelter juvenile fish, and other critters like the Eastern Newt. Before the volunteers and staff planted the wetland with over 3000 aquatic plants, the wetland was dominated by an invasive and aggressive species: the Common Reed (also known as phragmities). It was a monoculture, and monocultures are bad news for biodiversity. Now the wetland has ten different native species. We used a special matting made of coconut fiber to hold the plants in place during the winter. Not only does the matting provide the plants with stability, the coconut fiber is biodegradable and will decompose over time. It was amongst these plantings that staff discovered the Eastern Newt mere months after the wetland was planted.

There are profound and real benefits to wetland restoration, especially in the face of climate change. By taking care of our wetlands, they will take care of us. Wetlands absorb the water from severe storms and are a major component of the groundwater system: the fresh water we drink and use every day.  Clean, high quality water affects Eastern Newts, and us.

Thank you to the wonderful volunteers and staff who work so hard to restore our wetlands.

Funding for this project has been provided by Fisheries and Oceans Canada

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Restoration Day at Glenorchy Conservation Area

Glenorchy CA Community Restoration

Written By: Nigel Finney, Watershed Planner & with contributions by Karlee May, Digital Media Coordinator

On May 25th, 2014, over thirty dedicated volunteers enjoyed a day of planting at Glenorchy Conservation Area, a grassland and wetland ecosystem, and welcomed addition to Ontario’s Greenbelt. The conservation authority is currently in the process of restoring Glenorchy. Restoration volunteers had the chance for a first peek before the conservation area officially opens to the public!

 Glenorchy CA Community Restoration

Conservation Halton is restoring diverse ecosystems at Glenorchy Conservation Area to contribute to a functioning and connected Natural Heritage System in North Oakville.

Volunteers planted wetland flowers, grasses, and sedges in a newly created wetland to provide a habitat for wildlife and improve watershed health. The volunteers also planted native prairie flowers to encourage biodiversity and pollinator species, like bees.

Species planted include:

  • Wetland and Meadow Marsh – Tussock Sedge, Awl-fruited Sedge, Giant Bur-reed, Arrowhead, Common Three-square Bulrush, Monkey-Flower, Green-headed Coneflower, Common Boneset, and Swamp Milkweed
  • Grassland – Butterflyweed, Round-headed Bush-Clover, and Golden Alexanders

We were lucky enough to see and hear species like the Bobolink, Field Sparrow, Lesser Yellowlegs, Barn Swallows, Mallard, and sandpiper species. The birds were not the only creatures on showcase! Participants also spotted a large Polyphemus Moth.

 Glenorchy CA Community Restoration

Thank you to staff volunteers from Credit Valley Conservation, Hamilton Conservation Authority, and the Town of Oakville. Thank you very much for your time and effort to helping rebuild the ecosystem of the conservation area.

We also want to say thanks to Environment Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Fund, Shell Fuelling Change, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Town of Oakville, and support also from the Conservation Halton Foundation.

Glenorchy CA Community Restoration

Restoration Day is part of a larger plan to encourage the establishment and enhancement of the ecosystem of Glenorchy. Our objectives for Glenorchy are as follows:

GRASSLAND

  • Vegetation establishment will be monitoring over the coming years. Cool season native grasses take a few seasons to become established and mature. In the interim, monitoring efforts will assist in determining any invasive species concerns.
  • Enhancement of suitable habitat for the Mottled Duskywing, federally Endangered and a globally rare butterfly.
  • Creation of habitat suitable for open country species at risk birds such as the Eastern Meadowlawk, Bobolink and Henslow’s Sparrow.
  • Enhancement of habitat for the Eastern Milk Snake, a species of Special Concern.

 

WETLAND

  • The three smaller wetland areas were created to capture runoff, create shallow habitat for amphibians and waterfowl and increase habitat diversity on the landscape.
  • The larger wetland also provided an opportunity to install a raptor perch pole, summer bat maternity roost box, wildlife logs, and a turtle nesting area (Painted and Snapping Turtle).
  • Amphibian Marsh monitoring will determine what frogs and toads utilize the wetlands as breeding habitat with a target of increasing breeding success for the Western Chorus Frog, a species in decline in Ontario.
  • Breeding bird surveys will determine what waterfowl species utilize the new wetlands for stopover and breeding sites which have been reduced on the landscape.

 

 

 

 

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Western Chorus Frog Habitat Restored at Glenorchy Conservation Area

Western Chorus Frog

Western Chorus Frog

By: Nigel Finney, Watershed Planner

In 2011 Conservation Halton restored the first of many small wetlands at Glenorchy Conservation Area. Now, with a few years of establishment providing clean water and native plant cover, our restoration monitoring has confirmed that the Western Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata) is now breeding in the wetland.

Western Chorus Frogs prefer to breed in woodland ponds, damp meadows, and marshes. Over the last 10 years, this species has declined by 30% across Ontario and is considered provincially rare. The reason for the decline is linked to habitat loss and fragmentation.

In order to help the species, Conservation Halton has made it a focus at Glenorchy Conservation Area to create suitable breeding areas as part of the diverse and innovative ecological restoration plan for the property.

Photo Credit: Nigel Finney

Photo Credit: Nigel Finney

This work will help to preserve and enhance the function of the North Oakville Natural Heritage System and Ontario’s Greenbelt. Glenorchy Conservation Area was recently added to the world-renowned Greenbelt–making it the first new addition since the creation of the Greenbelt in 2005.

Ecological restoration efforts at this property will enhance existing ecosystems, and provide additional functions and services such as water regulation, water filtration, and wildlife habitat. Compared to other ecosystems, wetlands provide the greatest amount of services related to storing, cleaning, and providing fresh water and removing pollutants.

This year, Conservation Halton is planning on continuing its work to restore and enhance wetlands and other ecosystems at Glenorchy Conservation Area. Funding is needed to help continue and complete this significant restoration plan.

For More Information:

Fact Sheet: Glenorchy Conservation Area – Conservation Halton

Fact Sheet: North Oakville

Ontario Nature: Western Chorus Frog

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Sustaining our Community Forests

By Rafay Agha, Interactive Media Writer | Conservation Halton

It is impossible not to marvel at the natural beauty and lush greenery of the escarpment. Driving west along Britannia Road towards Burlington from a very concrete and very bustling Mississauga, I enjoy when the roads narrow, the traffic lights fade and the sun peaks out from behind cloud cover to shed light on farm fields and the rich natural landscape that envelopes the escarpment.

It’s important to know that views like  this, of the Hilton Falls forests, shouldn’t be taken for granted. Conservation Halton’s Forestry Services department has a lot to do with maintaining these green spaces, which are not only scenic but also house an ecosystem filled with irreplaceable wildlife and unparalleled natural features.

Forestry Services, with the ecology department, concentrate on forest management, sustainability and stewardship. They know about the importance of trees. Forest cover provides habitat for tremendous wildlife and also cleans and purifies air, reduces carbon, protects streams and wetlands and maintains the ecological integrity of natural landscapes. Studies suggest that at minimum, a 30 per cent forest cover is required…
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