OF KOMOKA PROVINCIAL PARK
Osmond Langtvet recommended that the wilderness area around
the Thames River between Kilworth and Komoka Bridges become
a wilderness park. It was turned down because the area was too
close to London.
of Natural Resources established a near-urban parks policy.
was re-examined because parks were now seen to provide outdoor
recreation opportunities close to urban centres.
|| JG Nelson
and S Scott claimed Komoka Park to be a prime location for outdoor
education in the London area, based on a study they conducted.
of Natural Resources, Leo Bernier announced a Komoka Park proposal.
It became the second urban oriented Provincial Park, including
1300 acres of valleys and meadows. It would also be the first
inland Provincial Park.
|| 75 Land
acquisition began for the Provincial Park properties and 300
acres were bought.
mid-1970s MNR relocated the first Kilworth post office
building to the south park site to be used as an MNR office.
It was used as a field office from 1978-1997. A 1998 inventory
of heritage resources, prepared by Londons Advisory Committee
on Heritage, identifies that this building was built around
1880, and assigns it priority 1, meaning it is
one of Londons important heritage structures, worthy
of protection, because of its architectural style (a side-hall
plan cottage) and historical value (first post office at Kilworth).
were rented for agricultural use.
problems forced the MNR to develop a phase-in of parkland.
by Kevin Hawthorne stated that the goal of a near-urban park
should be for landscape protection with an outdoor education
and recreation theme.
grazing was discontinued within the area.
**Prior to 1981 the area was used for grazing, horse pasture
and forest management.
was designated as an ANSI, an Area of Natural and Scientific
properties were acquired adding 250 acres.
north of the Thames River was leased to South Winds Sand and
Gravel until 1993.
was written by Brian Klinkenberg called, A Reconnaissance
Life Science Inventory of the Komoka Park Preserve and Komoka
Park Reserve Area of Natural and Scientific Interest.
of Natural Resources states that 53 new parks, including Komoka
Park, will be regulated within the next year.
On June 10, the land became a Provincial Park.
Provincial Park is presently used for light recreational purposes.
River declared a Canadian Heritage River.
|| In July,
the MNR advised the public that management planning was beginning.
Plan for Komoka Provincial Park begins with compilation of Background
Information Issues and Concepts
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Prior to becoming a park the area was used for gravel extraction,
pasturing, crop growing (such as corn and tobacco), forest management
and horseback riding. Once it became a park recreation became the
dominant use. Available activities include; hunting, fishing, hiking,
bird watching, outdoor education, skiing, canoeing, and camping.
These recreational opportunities help to integrate urban citizens
into the great wilderness experience of Southern Ontario.
are about eight kilometres of trails in Komoka Provincial Park
with some signage to guide the use of the park.
park provides free day-use and is predominantly used by bird watchers,
hikers, anglers and horseback riders. Keep in mind when visiting
the park that there are no visitor facilities located at the park.
For more information contact:
Burwell Provincial Park
P.O. Box 9
Port Burwell, Ontario
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The Komoka Park consists of a beautiful river valley with steep
slopes and wooded sides, including exposed cliff-like banks. The
landscape is higher in the southeast than the north offering a different
view from each side of the Thames River. When looking south you
can see a magnificent forested wall, and looking north you can witness
the beauty of the land. This view offers a feeling of great height.
The unique landscape is mainly the result of the land being covered
by a Great Lake earlier in history. The south became land while
the north became a delta formed by the Thames River.
There are three major geological formations found here:
- The Devonian
- The Hamilton
group grey shales that overlay the limestones
- The Dundee
The area is
covered by glacial drift deposited during the Wisconsin glaciation.
The Thames River has exposed some limestone and shale. Much of the
Park occupies deltaic deposits formed 14,800-12,500 years ago. This
happened during the retreat of the Wisconsin ice sheet. The Proglacial
Lake Maumee II covered the park area. At this time the Thames River
was forming large sand and gravel deltas.
River is a significant landscape feature in Komoka Provincial Park.
It has a long and rich cultural heritage and was declared a Canadian
Heritage River in 2000. The Thames River is 273 km long and drains
about 5,825 km2 of land. This makes it the second largest watershed
in Southwestern Ontario. The Komoka portion of the watershed has
been managed by the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA)
since 1947. The water quality of the river is fairly poor and the
Ministry of Environment recommends restrictions on eating fish caught
in the river (for example, a restriction of four meals per month
of average sized Walleye).
Komoka Provincial Park is an area of ANSI (Area of Natural and Scientific
Interest) due to its unique environmental features. In 1985 a study
determined that Komoka Park has 12 rare vascular plant species and
5 plant species that were new to Middlesex County. The study also
discovered three species of fauna, which are considered rare or
threatened in Canada.
Park is the best example of a terraced forested river corridor in
the southwestern region. It offers a wide diversity of vegetation
types and the presence of rare species of flora and fauna. The biological
and landform diversity is very uncommon in Southwestern Ontario.
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FAUNAL SPECIES FOUND IN KOMOKA
A) Amphibians and Reptiles
Spiny Softshell Turtle
Canadian Range: Southern Ontario and Southern Quebec
Threats: Habitat loss, pollution, and human disturbance
Critical Habitat: Thames River
the spiny softshell turtle is protected under the Ontario Game and
Fish Act; it is prohibited to hunt, possess, sell, purchase or take
the spiny softshell. This turtle inhabits aquatic environments where
the bottom is sandy, has some aquatic vegetation, and sandbars or
mud flats. These turtles have been found in a variety of environments
including; marshy creeks, swift-flowing rivers, lakes, impoundments,
bays, marshy lagoons, ditches or ponds near rivers.
Threats: Habitat changes, toxins, human disturbance
Critical Habitat: Thames River, rocky shallow water and shorelines
These snakes prefer to live in lowlands by streams, small rivers
Other species are the Eastern Hognose Snake (rare), the Bullfrog
(rare), and the Common Map Turtle (uncommon).
Critical Habitat: Sandy knolls throughout the site
Because of declining habitat, the badger is listed as a Species
of Special Concern.
The Southern Flying Squirrel is another mammal of special interest
that may be a rare sighting within the park.
Variegated Fritillary- rare
Aphrodite Fritillary- rare
Silver-bordered Fritillary- rare
Tawny Crescent- rare
Baltimore Checkerspot- rare
Common Buckeye- rare
Southern Cloudywing- rare
Northern Cloudywing- rare
Wild Indigo Duskywing- very rare
Giant Swallowtail- Prickly Ash -rare
Spicebush Swallowtail- rare
Hackberry- Hackberry- rare
Tawny Emperor- Hackberry- rare
Northern Pearly-Eye- rare
Dun Skipper- rare
Eastern Pine Elfin- very rare
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There are some rare and significant birds that have been sited in
Komoka Provincial Park.
- Least Bittern-
a rare migrant, marsh habitat
- Bald Eagle-
a rare migrant and winter visitor, river habitat
Hawk- a rare migrant occasional winter visitor and former breeder,
- Golden Eagle-
very rare migrant
Falcon- very rare breeder, rare migrant
Bobwhite- very rare breeder, likely extirpated
- Black Tern-
very rare migrant, pond habitat
Woodpecker- declining migrant and breeder, woodland habitat
Warbler- rare migrant, very rare breeder, woodland habitat
Waterthrush- very rare migrant, woodland habitat
- Golden Redhorse-
- Striped Shiner-
- Central Stoneroller-
- Eastern Sand
- Silver Shiner-
- Pugnose Minnow-
- Brook Silverside-
Rare Vascular Plants in Komoka Provincial Park
- Purple milkweed
- Narrow- leaved
- Ebony Spleenwort
- Downy wood
- Blue ash
- Tall Love
- Water Star-grass
- Wood Lily
- Swamp Dewberry
- Canada Hawkweed
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in Komoka Provincial Park
Komoka Provincial Park provides a variety of diverse habitat for
native butterflies, insects, reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals.
There are many different communities in the park area. There are
several swamps, varied upland forests and two plantations. The Thames
River provides aquatic habitat and there are large areas of meadow
Woodland areas are important habitat for a variety of species including
birds, reptiles, insects, amphibians and mammals. A habitat is where
all plants and animals live; it is their home area.
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 nests in den trees,
while birds such as woodpeckers nest in snag trees.
Many nut producing trees (mast trees) such as oak, beech and hickory
supply food for the woodland creatures. Without these trees in the
forest the animals would either starve or move to another forest
that contained these trees.
or evergreens are important because they are used
as shelter and cover from the snow, wind and rain by many forest
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.
At Komoka Provincial
Park there is a variety of forested habitat. Along both sides of
the Thames River there is a forested corridor that has been identified
as the provincially significant Komoka Park Reserve. There are two
plantations. They are areas that have been planted by humans. The
trees in the plantation are usually the same species and the same
height. A plantation is similar to a crop of trees. One plantation
at Komoka is white pine, the other is a black walnut-white pine
mixed plantation. There is a large area of upland forest that includes
species such as, sugar maple, white ash, oak, hickory and white
cedar. There are forest species in the Komoka park that represent
the Carolinian Life Zone.
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, these include the Badger, Eastern Mole, the Southern
Flying Squirrel and the Opossum.
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 and stewardship.
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 a forest habitat
in our area:
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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.
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.
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.
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.
the present time Komoka Provincial Park does not have a managed
tall grass prairie habitat area. There is a large area of open
meadow. This area has grown into meadow from agricultural fields
and gravel pits that have been left to naturalize. This meadow
area combined with the upland forest provides a diverse habitat
for many wildlife species. Old fields provide a very important
habitat but are declining due to development, agriculture or
reverting back to forest. Certain bird species use old field
habitat for nesting on or near the ground.
LIFE IN A GRASSLAND
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.
There are four
types of wetlands found in Ontario; marshes, swamps, bogs and fens.
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.
Swamps can be either isolated or found along rivers, streams and
lakes. They are formed as a result of flooding during the spring
snow melt. They are covered with water for most of the year,
although they do not flood as deeply as marshes and can dry
up during periods of drought.
Some of the trees that can be seen in a swamp include Eastern White
Cedar, Balsam Poplar, Red Maple, Silver Maple, Black Ash, Tamarack
and Spruce. A variety of shrubs are located here: Alder, Willow,
Button Bush, Winterberry and Dogwood. The ground is carpeted with
mosses, ferns and wildflowers including Marsh Marigold, Skunk Cabbage
Bogs are commonly found in the northern parts of the province. They
are located in deep, bowl-like depressions and are filled with layers
of peat (slowly decaying plant material). The water becomes covered
with floating and decaying vegetation. The dominant vegetation here
is sphagnum moss. Some tree species found here are Black Spruce,
Tamarack and White Cedar. Plants include Leatherleaf, Labrador Tea,
Bog Rosemary, Blueberries, Cranberries, Three-leaved-Solomons
Seal, Sundew and Pitcher Plants.
These are areas that are usually located in low-lying areas of Northern
Ontario. Within Fens water slowly flows in and out of the peat layers.
However, fens may dry up in the warmer months. They are one of the
most interesting wildflower and insect habitats and are a great
place to find Orchids and other rare plants.
Fens are dominated by grasses, rushes, and sedges. Other plant life
consists of: Horsetails, Brown Moss, Tamarack, Black Spruce and
Birch. Wildlife in a Fen might include shrews, mice, voles, lemmings,
coyote, muskrat, raccoon, beaver and weasels.
Komoka Provincial Park there are several wetland areas. There is
a white cedar coniferous swamp, and a deciduous swamp.
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IN A WETLAND
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!
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 dogwood.
River provides an excellent aquatic habitat in Komoka Provincial
Park. The river supports many aquatic species. The flood plains
also provide habitat for wildlife. The Spiny Softshell Turtle and
the Queen Snake are two species that have been found there.
Thames River has one of the most diverse fish populations in
Canada. It provides many habitats, has nutrient-rich waters,
a long growing season and is connected to the Great Lakes. The
Ministry of Natural Resources lists 98 fish species in the Thames
River. Some of the sport fish found in the river are Walleye,
Small mouth Bass, Coho, and Pink Salmon.
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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.
CHECKLIST for Komoka Provincial Park
1. Black Swallowtail
31. Red Admiral
2. Giant Swallowtail 32. American Lady
3. Eastern Tiger Swallowtail 33. Common Buckeye
4. Spicebush Swallowtail 34. Viceroy
5. Cabbage White 35. Hackberry
6. Clouded Sulphur 36. Tawny Emperor
7. Orange Sulphur 37. Northern Pearly-Eye
8. Harvester 38. Little Wood Satyr
9. American Copper 39. Common Ringlet
10. Coral Hairstreak 40. Common Wood-Nymph
11. Edwards Hairstreak 41. Monarch
12. Banded Hairstreak 42. Silver-spotted Skipper
13. Hickory Hairstreak 43. Southern Cloudywing
14. Eastern Pine Elfin 44. Northern Cloudywing
15. Eastern Tailed Blue 45. Juvenals Duskywing
16. Spring Azure 46. Wild Indigo Duskywing
17. Summer Azure 47. Common Sootywing
18. Variegated Fritillary 48. Least Skipper
19. Great Splangled Fritillary 49. European Skipper
20. Aphrodite Fritillary 50. Pecks Skipper
21. Silver-bordered Fritillary 51. Tawny-edged Skipper
22. Meadow Fritillary 52. Long Dash
23. Silvery Checkerspot 53. Northern Broken Dash
24. Tawny Checkerspot 54. Little Glassywing
25. Pearl Crescent 55. Delaware Skipper
26. Northern Crescent 56. Hobomok Skipper
27. Baltimore Checkerspot 57. Dun Skipper
28. Question Mark
29. Eastern Comma
30. Mourning Cloak
CHECKLIST for Komoka Provincial Park
1. Common Green
2. Calico Pennant
3. Halloween Pennant
4. Eastern Pondhawk
5. Dot-tailed Whiteface
6. Widow (Pied) Skimmer
7. Twelve-spotted Skimmer
8. Common Whitetail
9. Eastern Amberwing
10. Black Saddlebags
11. Cherry Meadowhawk
12. Ruby Meadowhawk
13. Ebony Jewelwing
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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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