HCA hopes harvest will restore native hardwoods
The Hamilton Conservation Authority is planning a “selective thinning” of Christie Lake’s pine plantation to take advantage of a tax break and encourage the hardwood forest that once stood there to grow back.
Mike Stone, manager of watershed planning services, said the 90-hectare plantation is among 840 hectares of woodland at nine authority properties registered with the province’s Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program.
In return for a 75 per cent property-tax rebate, the authority must create forest management plans that meet specific objectives over a 10-year timeline, he said, estimating the overall tax savings at $50,000 per year.
At least 200 hectares of plantation trees, including Christie’s, have been identified for harvesting because they’re old and “not doing very well,” he said.
Stone, who presented the plan to the conservation areas advisory board meeting last week, said revenues from the felled trees will likely only cover the bill for cutting them down.
“They’re not regenerating, some of them are diseased, that sort of thing, and so what we want to do is have stronger, healthier forests,” he said.
“We’re focused on the plantations to try to, longer term obviously, start to see some of those hardwoods, the native forest species, come back.”
Stone said he expects the harvest to take place next January, but the authority will first hold a public open house and contact the mountain biking and disc golf clubs that use the park.
He said the goal at Christie is a mixed forest.
“We may need to do some planting to help stimulate the kind of regeneration that we want,” he said. “Some of that has yet to be determined.”
Plans to cut down the trees come as work is finishing on the conversion of the first of seven man-made ponds at Christie into a more natural stream state.
Scott Peck, director of watershed planning and engineering, said about 2,000 fish were moved downstream as the pond’s water level was drawn down.
“The pond is very soupy but it’s coming together nicely,” he said.
The project hopes to lower the temperature of water flowing into Christie Lake from the ponds by more than three degrees Celsius, preventing the growth of the toxic blue-green algae that reduces clarity.
It will also create spawning areas for northern pike that, like bass and other cold-water fish, presently stay out of the lake due to its warm, murky water.