sharon creek SPECIAL PROJECTS
friends of sharon creek is a volunteer group working
in partnership with the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority,
Lower Thames Valley Conservation Foundation, and many community
groups to raise money for the annual maintenance and operating costs
of Sharon Creek Conservation Authority. They can be reached at (519)
652-5562. Their current projects are as follows:
- tall grass prairie habitat upkeep
- wetland and shoreline restoration
- water quality monitoring
- community events
- bluebird nest box monitoring
- Elliott-Madill Memorial Forest and Trail
- grounds upgrades
- Sharon Creek Trust Fund Growth
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There are a variety of habitats to experience at Sharon Creek Conservation
Area. The 125 acre park is 83 acres of aquatic/wetland habitat and
42 acres of forest and grassland habitat.
GRASSLAND HABITAT AT SHARON CREEK
In May 1999, a demonstration garden with 30 marked common species,
was planted by the students of Our Lady of Lourdes. On June
15 and 16, 1999, the friends of sharon creek,
a group of volunteers from the Delaware Area committed to the
preservation and enhancement of the Sharon Creek Conservation
Area, planted 7 acres of tall grass prairie. the friends
of sharon creek
had the help of many sponsors, conservation groups, and local school
children. Over 70,000 grasses and flowers were planted.
The Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority has developed a
tall grass prairie education program for schools
The objectives for The Sharon Creek Tall grass Prairie are:
- To establish tall grass prairie vegetation on a 7 acre site
- To create a site that demonstrates the close relationship
between a wetland/lake habitat and a tall grass prairie environment.
The project includes a shoreline restoration program for Springer
Lake that in turn will enhance wildlife and ensure a diverse
environment. This provides nesting cover for waterfowl and forms
additional forage areas for other species.
- To develop educational programs
- To enhance and compliment other sites under development
- To provide a source of information and technology transfer
for the community and other environmental groups.
The open grassy areas in Sharon Creek have attracted bluebirds.
Numerous nesting boxes have been placed near the grassland area.
Bluebirds and Tree Swallows use these boxes during the spring and
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Grasslands are open areas where few or no trees grow. A true grassland
is sometimes called a prairie. A prairie is a long-lived grassland
that is dominated by native grasses. In comparison, the grasses
that you may see growing along the side of the road are called meadows,
they are not true prairies or grasslands.
A meadow is an open, treeless area covered by grasses and is usually
the result of a disturbance. Meadows are the first stage of forest
regeneration. These areas have hundreds of different species of
grasses and wildflowers.
Grasses make up between 50-75% of all plants found in tall grass
prairies. The most common grasses found within a Tall grass Prairie
includes: Big Bluestem, Little Bluestem, Indian Grass and Switch
grass. Some plants that can be found within this habitat include
Wild Lupine, Gray-headed Coneflower, Prairie Smoke, Wild Bergamot,
Butterfly Milkweed, Blazing Asters, Goldenrods and Sunflowers.
Before European Settlement tall grass prairies were abundant in
Southern Ontario. Now, they are endangered. Less than 3% of the
original tall grass prairies still exist in Ontario today. The
prairies were converted into agricultural fields and pastures.
However, restoration projects are underway in Southern Ontario
to help save the prairie.
Unfortunately, along with the loss of habitat comes the loss of
species. Of the plant species considered rare in Ontario, approximately
20% are associated with prairie ecosystems.
LIFE IN A GRASSLAND
Here are some species you might find in a grassland habitat:
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AQUATIC HABITAT AT SHARON CREEK
The Sharon Creek Reservoir, otherwise known as Springer Lake sits
among a series of significant wetlands. The reservoir was formed
as a result of damming a small stream. Some property owners in the
Sharon Creek Watershed have started projects such as:
- creating stream buffers
- improving water quality
- restoring stream banks
- restoring fish and wildlife habitats
Aquatic habitats are areas containing permanent water. Ponds, rivers,
and lakes are examples of aquatic habitat. Animals such as turtles
can be seen basking on logs, frogs can be heard communicating with
each other, toads can be seen hopping away, salamanders hiding,
birds flying overhead, beaver busily building, muskrats swimming
by and much more!
Aquatic habitats provide a home for many different species of
plants, insects, birds and mammals. These areas supply much food
and water for wildlife. Many mammals come to drink from the aquatic
habitat. Some may be looking for food. Next to aquatic systems you
can often find wetland vegetation species. Some examples are cattails,
reeds, grasses, willows and dogwoods.
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Here are some aquatic habitat species that you might find:
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*Many mammals use the aquatic habitat for water, food and shelter.
Beaver, muskrats, mink, opossums, and raccoons are some of the mammals
you might see in or near an aquatic area. Very often you will be
able to find their tracks.
WETLANDS AT SHARON CREEK
You may find wetland areas around the Sharon Creek Reservoir. A
wetland was also created when earth was excavated from an old parking
in the conservation area to build a viewing mound. This lowland
pond is to be restored with cattails and other wetland plants to
create a marsh habitat for wildlife. This is a good example of human
impact on a natural area. Can humans change the environment in order
to enhance areas for wildlife?
A wetland is an area that has standing water at or near the surface
for most of the year. Wetlands may be located along shorelines and
riverbanks or can often be found in isolated depressions or hollows.
Wetlands are very important within nature for the following reasons:
A. Wetlands provide habitat (food, water, shelter and space) for
mammals, reptiles, amphibians and many bird species.
B. Wetlands act like a giant sponge, holding water that reduces
C. Wetlands release water slowly, supplying water to other communities.
D. Wetlands help to control erosion.
E. Wetlands act like water filters.
These are found along the edges of rivers, streams, ponds and lakes.
They support many plants that are rooted in the soil and grow out
of the water called emergent plants. Cattails and Arrowheads are
two examples of emergent plants. Marshes receive their water from
the body of water next to them, groundwater, rain or snow. As a
result of this the water levels can vary from a few centimetres
up to two metres.
LIFE IN A WETLAND
Here are some species that might be found in a wetland habitat:
FOREST HABITAT AT SHARON CREEK
Woodland areas are important habitat for a variety of species including
birds, reptiles, insects, amphibians and mammals. A habitat is where
plants and animals live; it is their home. These homes in the forest
can be large old hollow trees known as den trees, or standing dead
trees called snag trees. These trees are very important within the
forest ecosystem because animals like raccoons and flying squirrels
make their nest in den trees, while birds like woodpeckers nest
in snag trees.
Many nut producing trees such as oak, beech and hickory supply food
for the woodland creatures. These trees are called mast trees. Without
these trees in the forest the animals would either starve or move
to another forest that contained these trees.
Conifer trees (have cones) or evergreens are important
because they are used as shelter and cover from the snow, wind and
rain by many forest animals. Conifer tree seeds can be found in
Even dead trees have a place in the forest since all of the dead
logs and leaves on the forest floor provide habitat for insects
and amphibians, which in turn are food for other animals.
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THE CAROLINIAN FOREST LIFEZONE
Carolinian Canada is one of Canadas most significant landscapes.
Often known as the banana belt, this area supports
an amazing diversity of wildlife and natural habitats. The area
has a relatively warm climate, providing suitable habitat for many
species that are not found anywhere else in Canada. The area has
the warmest average temperatures and the longest frost-free seasons
in Ontario. This results in relatively mild winters compared to
the rest of Ontario. The Carolinian forest reaches its northern
most limit in Southern Ontario.
Much of Ontarios rare and endangered species can be found
nestled away in the last remaining acres of the Carolinian Forest.
Species that can be seen here include trees such as Sassafras, the
Tulip Tree, Blue Ash, Flowering Dogwood, Chestnut, Hop Tree, Paw
Paw, Black Gum, Cucumber Tree and the Kentucky Coffee Tree. The
Green Dragon, the Creeping Fragile Fern, Swamp Rose Mallow, Lizards
Tail, Yellow Mandarin, Virginia Bluebells and Oswego Tea are a few
of Canadas rare plants existing now only within the Carolinian
Zone. Bird species, such as, the Acadian Flycatcher, Summer Tanager,
Carolina Wren and the Prothonotary Warbler can be found here. Some
mammals are restricted to this area, they include the Badger, Eastern
Mole, Southern Flying Squirrel and Opossum.
Unfortunately this life zone is one of the most threatened landscapes
in Ontario, covering less than 1% of Canada, but yet it is home
to more rare plants and animals than any other region in the country.
This is mainly because the species found here are at the northern
most point of their habitat. As well, these species live in developed
and settled landscapes, resulting in a minimum amount of habitat
remaining. It is found within an extremely busy corridor between
Windsor and Toronto. Urbanization, agriculture and industry have
destroyed a large portion of this beautiful forest. Because of this
the Canadian Carolinian Forest has been a focus for conservation
If you would like to learn more about the Carolinian
Life Zone, or have any questions please do not hesitate to contact:
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LIFE IN A FOREST
Here are some wildlife species you might see in the forest habitat
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A NATURAL AREA
You want to enjoy your nature experience
screen and bug spray
Many species make this area their home
you observe something place it back where you found it
�You could trample wildlife and plants
disturb dead wood, it is decaying
away from leaflets three, it is poison ivy
human impact on the area
Your natural area is important to you
quieter you are, the more you will see
everything in its natural setting
back and visit again
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