Eramosa Karst feeder lands’ plan takes low-key approach

News Mar 05, 2015 Hamilton Mountain News

By Richard Leitner, News Staff

A management plan for upper Stoney Creek’s Eramosa Karst feeder lands will lend a helping hand to protect key ecological features like the grasslands reportedly used for nesting by threatened bobolinks but otherwise largely leave the area as is.

Approved by the province as part of a 20-year lease agreement with the Hamilton Conservation Authority, the plan sets out a multi-year vision for the 38-hectare grassy expanse, located immediately east of the existing karst park.

It will formalize two existing footpaths running from Richdale Drive and Second Road West, add a new access from Highland Road and create a one-kilometre looping grass trail leading to an interpretive station honouring Friends of the Eramosa Karst, the group that pushed for the area’s protection.

To be known as Fotek Corner, the station will inform visitors about the management plan and include a wildflower display.

The authority will also spend nearly $30,000 to create buffers along the two creeks flowing through the area, expand hedgerows and plant native species to enhance the grasslands and other meadows.

Sandy Bell, manager of design and development, said the authority will likely have to cut the latter fields every three years or so to ensure they aren’t overrun by invasive plants.

Besides bobolinks, milksnakes and monarch butterflies are among other threatened species or species of concern that have been spotted in or close to the area, which is being leased to the authority for $1 per year.

“It’s just to manage the grasslands and the meadow a little more so that it really helps produce those types of species we want and reduces the weedy types of things that we don’t want,” Bell said.

“A lot of times there’s thought about just getting in there and planting trees, but there’s certain types of species that need the meadow approach rather than forest, so this was an area that we thought we should do that balance with.”

Bell said the authority has already installed farm-style fencing along much of the feeder lands’ perimeter and expects to complete remaining stretches this spring.

The fencing is designed to prevent illegal dumping and access by all-terrain vehicles as well as reverse encroachment into the area by some neighbouring landowners, he said.

“To me, fences are really good things,” Bell said during a recent presentation to the authority’s conservation advisory board, which endorsed the plan. “It helps say, ‘This is ours; this is yours.’”

Bell said Friends of the Eramosa Karst has said it hopes to plant trees along the southern boundary by Rymal Road “to create an avenue effect,” but that is likely a longer term project.

The feeder lands expand the neighbouring 73-hectare Eramosa Karst Conservation Area, donated to the authority by the province in 2006 in recognition of the Mount Albion Road site’s unique network of caves, sink holes, dry valleys and sinking streams.

While the lease is only in place for 20 years, Bell and other authority officials say they’re hopeful the province will also eventually donate the feeder lands to ensure their permanent protection.

The authority has budgeted nearly $100,000 for improvements to the feeder lands and $19,000 per year for maintenance and operation costs.

Eramosa Karst feeder lands’ plan takes low-key approach

News Mar 05, 2015 Hamilton Mountain News

By Richard Leitner, News Staff

A management plan for upper Stoney Creek’s Eramosa Karst feeder lands will lend a helping hand to protect key ecological features like the grasslands reportedly used for nesting by threatened bobolinks but otherwise largely leave the area as is.

Approved by the province as part of a 20-year lease agreement with the Hamilton Conservation Authority, the plan sets out a multi-year vision for the 38-hectare grassy expanse, located immediately east of the existing karst park.

It will formalize two existing footpaths running from Richdale Drive and Second Road West, add a new access from Highland Road and create a one-kilometre looping grass trail leading to an interpretive station honouring Friends of the Eramosa Karst, the group that pushed for the area’s protection.

To be known as Fotek Corner, the station will inform visitors about the management plan and include a wildflower display.

The authority will also spend nearly $30,000 to create buffers along the two creeks flowing through the area, expand hedgerows and plant native species to enhance the grasslands and other meadows.

Sandy Bell, manager of design and development, said the authority will likely have to cut the latter fields every three years or so to ensure they aren’t overrun by invasive plants.

Besides bobolinks, milksnakes and monarch butterflies are among other threatened species or species of concern that have been spotted in or close to the area, which is being leased to the authority for $1 per year.

“It’s just to manage the grasslands and the meadow a little more so that it really helps produce those types of species we want and reduces the weedy types of things that we don’t want,” Bell said.

“A lot of times there’s thought about just getting in there and planting trees, but there’s certain types of species that need the meadow approach rather than forest, so this was an area that we thought we should do that balance with.”

Bell said the authority has already installed farm-style fencing along much of the feeder lands’ perimeter and expects to complete remaining stretches this spring.

The fencing is designed to prevent illegal dumping and access by all-terrain vehicles as well as reverse encroachment into the area by some neighbouring landowners, he said.

“To me, fences are really good things,” Bell said during a recent presentation to the authority’s conservation advisory board, which endorsed the plan. “It helps say, ‘This is ours; this is yours.’”

Bell said Friends of the Eramosa Karst has said it hopes to plant trees along the southern boundary by Rymal Road “to create an avenue effect,” but that is likely a longer term project.

The feeder lands expand the neighbouring 73-hectare Eramosa Karst Conservation Area, donated to the authority by the province in 2006 in recognition of the Mount Albion Road site’s unique network of caves, sink holes, dry valleys and sinking streams.

While the lease is only in place for 20 years, Bell and other authority officials say they’re hopeful the province will also eventually donate the feeder lands to ensure their permanent protection.

The authority has budgeted nearly $100,000 for improvements to the feeder lands and $19,000 per year for maintenance and operation costs.

Eramosa Karst feeder lands’ plan takes low-key approach

News Mar 05, 2015 Hamilton Mountain News

By Richard Leitner, News Staff

A management plan for upper Stoney Creek’s Eramosa Karst feeder lands will lend a helping hand to protect key ecological features like the grasslands reportedly used for nesting by threatened bobolinks but otherwise largely leave the area as is.

Approved by the province as part of a 20-year lease agreement with the Hamilton Conservation Authority, the plan sets out a multi-year vision for the 38-hectare grassy expanse, located immediately east of the existing karst park.

It will formalize two existing footpaths running from Richdale Drive and Second Road West, add a new access from Highland Road and create a one-kilometre looping grass trail leading to an interpretive station honouring Friends of the Eramosa Karst, the group that pushed for the area’s protection.

To be known as Fotek Corner, the station will inform visitors about the management plan and include a wildflower display.

The authority will also spend nearly $30,000 to create buffers along the two creeks flowing through the area, expand hedgerows and plant native species to enhance the grasslands and other meadows.

Sandy Bell, manager of design and development, said the authority will likely have to cut the latter fields every three years or so to ensure they aren’t overrun by invasive plants.

Besides bobolinks, milksnakes and monarch butterflies are among other threatened species or species of concern that have been spotted in or close to the area, which is being leased to the authority for $1 per year.

“It’s just to manage the grasslands and the meadow a little more so that it really helps produce those types of species we want and reduces the weedy types of things that we don’t want,” Bell said.

“A lot of times there’s thought about just getting in there and planting trees, but there’s certain types of species that need the meadow approach rather than forest, so this was an area that we thought we should do that balance with.”

Bell said the authority has already installed farm-style fencing along much of the feeder lands’ perimeter and expects to complete remaining stretches this spring.

The fencing is designed to prevent illegal dumping and access by all-terrain vehicles as well as reverse encroachment into the area by some neighbouring landowners, he said.

“To me, fences are really good things,” Bell said during a recent presentation to the authority’s conservation advisory board, which endorsed the plan. “It helps say, ‘This is ours; this is yours.’”

Bell said Friends of the Eramosa Karst has said it hopes to plant trees along the southern boundary by Rymal Road “to create an avenue effect,” but that is likely a longer term project.

The feeder lands expand the neighbouring 73-hectare Eramosa Karst Conservation Area, donated to the authority by the province in 2006 in recognition of the Mount Albion Road site’s unique network of caves, sink holes, dry valleys and sinking streams.

While the lease is only in place for 20 years, Bell and other authority officials say they’re hopeful the province will also eventually donate the feeder lands to ensure their permanent protection.

The authority has budgeted nearly $100,000 for improvements to the feeder lands and $19,000 per year for maintenance and operation costs.