The Big Picture Network: Brant County
Conserving Fields and Streams
The Brant Rod and Gun Club has stewarded their 22 ha (54 ac) of land since 1937. The grounds include a mature hickory woodland and an oak savannah remnant. In the past xx years, they have re-designed their fish hatchery, letting part of the land revert back to the original Carolinian forest. Volunteers from the Club work hundreds of hours with partner agencies. They have planted 1.5 ha (4 ac) of prairie on the old trap range and replaced hundreds of metres of wooden walls along their stream banks with natural stone and riparian buffer plantings to protect the cold water stream and prevent erosion. They are continuing this work downstream for neighouring private properties. Trout fishing in Whiteman's Creek has been greatly enhanced by this project.
Trees for Roads
Trees planted in areas where we live, work and travel can play an important role in preserving the Carolinian nature of Brant County. The County of Brant's Grow Green program was founded as a millennium project with the goal of planting one million trees throughout the county. Perhaps one of the most important objectives of the program is to replace the majestic shade trees that once graced the rural roads of Brant. Perhaps the most spectacular of these roadside trees are the sugar maples whose distinctive shape and brilliant fall colours have long defined rural Brant County. Helping to bring the sugar maple back to the roadsides of Brant are Jim Ross, Hank Hedges and Gil Henderson. These Brant County residents have shown how individuals or small groups of citizens can make real differences in the conservation of unique nature of Brant County and the Carolinian zone.
Connecting Lands and Communities
The Six Nations First Nation have stewarded their land in Brant and Haldimand for centuries, retaining much of the natural cover that provided them with abundant resources. Today, they continue that tradition in the modern world, while working to foster partnerships with their neighbours along the Grand River. Through the Six Nations Eco-Centre, they have coordinated tree-planting programs within their own First Nations lands, while supplying stock to other agencies in Brant and Haldimand. They partner with groups like the Brant Resource Stewardship Network , the Grand River Conservation Authority , and Carolinian Woodland Recovery Team to conserve woodlands, wetlands and associated species at risk on their own land and across the Carolinian life zone. Six Nations are also leading or partnering with many other agencies in monitoring and restoration projects in the region.
Growing Healthy Landscapes
For over 65 years, private landowners have worked with the Grand River Conservation Authority and its predecessor to improve water quality and natural habitat along the Grand River. Long Point Region Conservation Authority is similarly dedicated to serving landowners in south-west Brant County. The authorities offer on-site visits, financial incentives and technical advice. Through initiatives, such as Private Land Tree Planting Program, the Ontario Power Generation/Forest Corridor Project, and Clean Water Program, they partner with landowners in tree planting projects. Erosion control assistance is available for buffer plantings, cattle fencing, sediment basins, and stream and gully erosion control.
Good Relationships – Caring Communities
The Brant Resource Stewardship Network is supports a wide diversity of landowner driven projects for planting and restoring tallgrass prairie/oak savanna habitats, cold water stream rehabilitation, forestry and tree planting and education and outreach – especially of youth. The network is composed of a volunteer body of representatives of landowner and land interest organizations who promote the care of natural resources for a profitable and sustainable environment. Each representative brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the network, and a willingness to support initiatives to meet stewardship needs in the community. The Network is supported by Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources through provision of a full-time permanent Stewardship Coordinator and some funding. The Network is further supported through community partnerships with local organizations and resource based agencies. The key is relationships: bringing people and organizations together to work towards common goals.
Landowners Conserving Woodlands
Most of Brant County's woodlands outside of the reserve lands of the Six Nations of the Grand River are privately owned. The Brant Woodlot Owner's Association , a group of landowners helping landowners, plays an essential role in helping woodlot owners protect the health and productivity of their private forests. Through education and communications programs, the Brant Woodlot Owner's Association works to ensure not only a sustainable supply of forest products, but the creation and preservation of wildlife habitat and the conservation of rare species in Brant County.
The highest priority of Tallgrass Ontario is to protect what remains of Ontario's rare, fire-dependent plant communities. These communities occur across southern Ontario as sunny tallgrass prairies, sun dappled oak savannas and oak woodlands. These habitats are the most endangered ecological communities in southern Ontario. Only three percent of their original extent remains in Ontario, owing to losses from urban development, agriculture, pollution and mismanagement. Most remnants exist as small, isolated patches. Within these threatened natural communities are many rare and endangered plant and animal species that can live nowhere else.. Tallgrass Ontario works with landowners through personal contact, workshops, published guidelines, and research to encourage and guide protection of these rare and beautiful Carolinian communities.
Restoring Wetland Habitat
John and Sadie Creeden shared a vision with Ducks Unlimited Canada: to restore a wetland on their land that had dried up due to landscape alteration. With assistance from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Wetland Habitat Fund, TD Friends of the Environment, Brant Waterways Foundation, the Shell Environmental Fund, Grand River Conservation Authority, and the Brant Resource Stewardship Network , 20 acres of wetland was restored and the adjacent upland was restored to natural habitat.
Multi-dimensional Sustainable Farming
The Davis family has been farming near Scotland at the headwaters of MacKenzie Creek since 1927. Their farm includes a 40 ha (100 ac.) woodlot that has provided recreation and a sustainable supply of timber and firewood for the family for 80 years. In their fields, wind breaks and minimum tillage on the fine sand soils reduces erosion by retaining organic matter at the surface and keeping the soil porous. In their dairy operation, water was used 4 times before being returned via a liquid manure system to the field crops. These activities and many others keep the Davis farm a healthy habitat for Pileated Woodpeckers and Milk Snakes. Even Beaver have moved back to the farm.
In some ways, the natural character of North Dumfries closely mirrors that of parts of Brant County. As in Brant County, prehistoric glaciers have left a complex landscape in North Dumfries that provides an amazing variety of natural habitats; wetlands, prairies and upland forests intermingle to create unique combinations of species and natural communities. Some rare Carolinian species, such as Hill's oak and pignut hickory, are unusually abundant here.
The special nature of North Dumfries also reflects its location at the northern edge of the Carolinian zone. Distinctive Carolinian species and natural communities coexist alongside those with a much more northern character. For example, the Sudden Bog of North Dumfries, a Carolinian Canada Signature Site, contains a large, relatively undisturbed Carolinian oak-hickory forest surrounding a black spruce-tamarack bog more typical of northern Ontario. Such a unique assortment of species and natural communities does not challenge the Carolinian identity of North Dumfries. Rather, it highlights the incredible diversity that defines both North Dumfries and Carolinian Canada.
Citizens Protect Globally Rare Habitat
Established in 1999, the Northwest Gateway Steering Committee had a goal to research and protect unique natural areas in an industrial development north of Brantford. Members included concerned citizens, City staff, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources , Grand River Conservation Authority and other stakeholders. They identified and inventoried a globally rare ‘perched prairie fen', a triple aquifer, Hackberry woods and Tallgrass Prairie, with species like Soft-hairy False Gromwell, Golden Sundew, Seneca Snakegrass. Although the official Committee was disbanded in 2007, the citizen's group continues to actively monitor this area. Some of the rare features of this Earth Area of Natural and Scientific Interest called a ‘tufa' include 3 m high waterspouts and 1.2 m high pressure cones or mud volcanoes (pingos). These form due to extremely high underground water pressure.
Clean Water, Healthy Landscapes
Gord Vellenga has been working hard since 1991 to keep the water running through his land in Brantford Township clean. He partnered with the Grand River Conservation Authority and the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association to establish a stream buffer demonstration project through the National Soil Conservation Program. A mix of grasses, trees and shrubs were planted in a 20 m buffer. Starting in 2003, he also completed a number of projects through the Brant Rural Water Quality Program. He has fenced his cattle from the creek, directed clean rainwater from his roofs to the creek, taken steps to control the runoff from his livestock yard, retired steep slopes from agricultural production and planted 3 ha (8 ac) of hardwoods, White Pine and White Spruce on his land. “It has been good to be able to work with partners like the Grand River Conservation Authority, ” says Gord.
Partners Work to Recover Rare Habitat
Landowners near Paris have been working with the Brant Resource Stewardship Network to restore and revitalize prairie and savanna habitat on their farms. One farm contains a very high quality white oak savanna with numerous rare plants, including the endangered American Columbo. Since 2005, the family has removed invasive species and completed two prescribed burns. One member of the family even completed a weekend of training to become a prescribed burn worker. The result after only three years has been a healthier habitat for numerous plants and animals, including an 80% increase in the population of American Columbo. The family is currently contemplating creating a new oak savanna to connect two of the isolated remnants. Similar recovery activity is underway at the neighbours where another American Columbo population has been identified.
Preserving Urban Gems
The City of Brantford Parks and Recreation Department has worked with many partners to plant thousands of trees through annual naturalization programs and to preserve fascinating and unique ecological habitats. From oak savanna and prairie remnants to perched fens, Brantford has specialized habitats that are rarely seen elsewhere. Pignut hickory, Virginia Mountain Mint, and Fowler's Toad are found in the City's protected places, but are uncommon regionally. Preservation of these unique habitats is a major priority during industrial and infrastructure growth.
Landowner Stewardship Work is Grand
The 790 ha (1952 ac) Grand River Forest Area of Natural and Scientific Interest stretches 18 km between Cambridge and Paris. The site is one of the best examples of a forested river valley in the Carolinian region and is unique in its high diversity of vegetation types, concentrations of rare plant species, freshwater fauna, specialized habitats such as open seepage slopes, prairie remnants, and significant wintering habitat for song birds, waterfowl and Bald Eagles.
The 137 ha (339 acres) Spottiswood Lakes ANSI , near Glen Morris, is an outstanding natural area of mature upland forest, bogs, marshes and remnant prairie habitats on steeply sloping kame moraine ridges and kettle lakes. Both ANSIs support a large number of native species, many of which are species at risk. Conservation success is largely dependent upon the continued good stewardship of the 70 landowners who own and manage these ANSI sites.