Since 1984

The Big Picture Network: Halton Region

To view a map of the Big Picture in Halton, click here.

Also available is the 'Caring for Nature in Halton' factsheet, part of a Carolinian Canada wide series. This factsheet is an excellent overview of Carolinian Canada habitat restoration and conservation work being done in Halton Region. The Halton factsheet is available for download here (PDF 1.7 MB).

Brookville Swamp

Location: north of Milton off Sideroad 20

Date: designated in 1991 as a regionally significant Life Science ANSI (American National Standards Institute)

Partners: Halton Region, private stewardship

This low-lying wooded area is dominated by a mix of mature Silver Maple, Balsam Poplar and Eastern White Cedar and is part of the Halton Escarpment provincially significant wetland. At 116 ha, Brookville Swamp also has some higher, drier Sugar Maple, Ash, and White Pine woodlands. It is privately owned and was identified by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources as a regionally significant Life Science ANSI in 1991. The swamp functions as a headwater source for a tributary of Sixteen Mile Creek and serves as a good-quality source of clean water for the area. Regionally rare plants like Star Duckweed, Running Club-moss and Interrupted Fern (Osmunda claytonia) are found here. Visit the MNR's website for more information here.

Crawford Lake Conservation Area

Location: Steeles Avenue and Guelph Line south of Highway 401

Date: 1969

Partners: Conservation Halton, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Niagara Escarpment Commission

Crawford Lake is a rare meromictic lake (a lake with layers of water that do not intermix). It is extremely deep, the bottom sediments are never disturbed, and no oxygen is available. The waters are pristine and research on tree pollen in the sediments has enabled scientists to date the arrival of tree species in the area after glaciation. The lake is surrounded by a boardwalk, and extensive forests in the 468 ha park. There are 19 km of trails where hiking, cross-country skiing, and snow-shoeing in season can be enjoyed. The trail system is joined to the Bruce Trail, and the park is within the Niagara Escarpment World Biosphere Reserve. There are views over the Nassagaweya Canyon, and Turkey Vultures can be seen soaring there in the summer months. As well as the natural beauties of the Conservation Area, there is also a 5th century reconstructed Iroquoian Village. Educational programs featuring the natural and cultural aspects of the park are available.

For more information go to

Halton Greenlands System

Location: Halton Region - wide.


Partners: Region of Halton, Niagara Escarpment Commission, Conservation Halton,

The Greenlands System in Halton is a plan that is incorporated into the Halton Region Official Plan. It identifies natural areas across the region where some level of protection is needed. There were 48 Environmentally Sensitive Areas identified in Halton as of 2002. These are described in the Halton Region Environmentally Sensitive Areas Consolidation Report April 2005 (found here). The goal is to permanently maintain an interconnected structure of natural cores and corridors that will preserve ecologically significant habitat and a healthy functioning landscape in Halton. For more information visit the Halton Region official site here.

Hilton Falls

Location: Campbellville Road north of the 401, west of Highway 25.

Date: 1971

Partners: Conservation Halton, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources,

This 45 ha park features a beautiful 10-metre high natural waterfall surrounded by a large forest complex inhabited by a diversity of native species. It is designated as an Area of Natural and Scientific Interest and a regionally Environmentally Sensitive Area. The mature hardwood forest blazes with colour in the fall and is carpeted with blooming wildlflowers in the spring. Wetland habitat features a Beaver meadow, and there is a fascinating geological pot-hole. There are 33 km of trails offering opportunities for hiking, biking and cross-country skiing in season. The trail system is connected to the Bruce Trail and allows for great birding and wildlife viewing opportunities.

For more information go to

Iroquois Shoreline Woods

Location: south Oakville

Date: 1984

Partners: Carolinian Canada Coalition, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, City of Oakville

Its name evocative of Ontario’s glacial past, Iroquois Shoreline Woods is steeped in history. The shoreline of the glacial Lake Iroquois runs through the southern edge of this Carolinian Canada Signature Site. Standing at the entrance to the woodlot, on the ancient lake’s shoreline, you can see the waters of Lake Ontario in the distance. Surrounded by residential subdivisions, a golf course, and industry, this is one of the region’s largest remaining upland forest south of the Niagara Escarpment. The mature forest is mainly Red and White Oak, with Sugar and Red Maple, Shagbark Hickory, American Beech, and Basswood. In more open areas, hawthorn savanna and an unusual lowland floodplain with thickets of Re-osier Dogwood, Cattails, and Wild Raspberry can be found. Eleven regionally significant plant species grow here, including two that are provincially rare – Pale Blueberry, and Sharp-leaved Goldenrod. Several significant bird species breed in the area. Owned by the Province and leased to the town of Oakville for passive recreation until 2033, the 35 ha Iroquois Shoreline Woods Park includes a three-km looped trail. The park was closed in 2002 when a dramatic decline in tree health (caused by prolonged drought, insects, and disease) created unsafe conditions. Close to 4,000 dead and dying oaks were removed. The park reopened in 2003 and since then, volunteers have planted more than 4,000 seedlings of Red, White and Black Oak, Cherry and White Pine.

For more information see the Carolinian Canada Signature Sites booklet, available for purchase in our shop here. You can also read about Iroquois Shoreline Woods Signature Site on our website here.


Location: off the 401 at Exit 320 near Milton


Partners: Conservation Halton

This 400 ha park offers activities for all seasons. There are 22 km of trails, much of it winding along the edge of the escarpment through mature woodlands and connected to the Bruce Trail. The views are spectacular in this Regional Environmentally Sensitive Area. For more information go to

Mount Nemo Conservation Area

Location: on Guelph Line south of Brittania Rd.

Date: 1959

Partners: Conservation Halton

Located near Burlington, this 169 ha park protects one of the best cliff ecosystems on the Niagara Escarpment. Fern covered limestone boulders are scattered among ancient cedars, some of which cling to the cliffs in configurations which make it hard to believe they can still be alive. Trad and sport rock climbing can be done in designated areas, and the hiking along the 5 km trail through woodlands at the top of the cliffs is spectacular. For more information go to

Oakville Land Assembly (Oakville Realty Corporation) Lands

Location: east of Bronte Road and north of Dundas Road north of Oakville

Date: November 5, 2004, 2006

Partners: Conservation Halton, Town of Oakville, Oakvillegreen Conservation Association

This area of 451 ha north of Oakville was purchased by the province in the 1970s and 80s for delivery of government services and programs. Later the lands were no longer needed by the province so they were placed under the management of the Ontario Realty Corporation for eventual disposition. They were to be sold to developers, but many in Oakville fought long and hard to preserve these publicly owned lands in their natural state. This battle was led by the Oakvillegreen Conservation Association. On November 5, 2004, the Provincial government declared 303 ha of ORC lands protected for public open space. In 2006, 263 ha of these lands were passed over to Conservation Halton to manage as a conservation park. These lands are part of the Trafalgar Moraine – see below on this website. For more information go to:

A Vision for the Future

Oakvillegreen Conservation Association, Oakville citizens, Councillors Allan Elgar and Renee Sandelowsky, and MPP Kevin Flynn, fought hard for the Oakville Land Assembly (OLA), an area of 451 ha (1,115 ac) stretching from Highway 407 to Bronte Road. The Province protected over half of it in 2004, a significant achievement that provides important wildlife habitat and natural corridors. It also links with the Sixteen Mile Creek Area of Natural and Scientific Interest to the north. The OLA was envisioned as part of a Natural Heritage System of connected natural areas in the Town of Oakville’s North Oakville Secondary Plan.


Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area

Location: 401 exit 320 south to Steeles Ave., then west to Appleby and south on Appleby Line. Near Milton.

Date: 1961

Partners: Conservation Halton

This 264 hectare natural park has breathtaking lookouts dotted along the escarpment cliffs overlooking rich woodlands. The 10 km cliff-top trail is connected to the Bruce Trail which travels through the Nassagaweya Canyon below. As well, there are connecting trails to Crawford Lake. Rattlesnake Point is designated as a Regional Environmentally Sensitive Area and a Provincial Area of Natural and Scientific Interest. Geological features such as crevice caves, cliffs and talus slopes enhance the natural beauty and diversity of habitats in forests and meadows. For more information go to

Sassafras Woods

Location: north of the 403 on the Burlington/Hamilton border


Partners: Carolinian Canada Coalition, Halton Region, many private stewards including CUMIS Group.

Sassafras Woods is one of the few remaining sizeable woodlots (136 ha) in Halton Region. It is characteristic of the forests that once covered the area. Named for a magnificent grove of 15-m-tall Sassafras, the forest has a distinctly southern flavour, with many Carolinian shrubs and trees. Notable rarities include the largest colony of Yellow Mandarin ( a woodland perennial) in Halton, one of Ontario’s largest stands of American Columbo (a rare forest plant), and the nationally threatened American Chestnut. Along with its unique vegetation, the site is also striking for its dramatic topography. Four ravine systems along tributataries of Falcon and Grindstone Creeks have cut slopes a deep as 30 m, particularly in the northern section of Sassafras Woods. Approximately one-fifth of Sassafras Woods is owned and protected by Halton Region. The rest is in private ownership, with the majority stewarded by the CUMIS group, an insurance company that has had its head office here since 1966. The company bought the land from a farmer who tapped the Sugar Maples in Sassafras Woods for syrup and who grew a large apple orchard just south of the woodlot. Not only does CUMIS steward Sassafras Woods, but the company also maintains the orchard – and each year donates approximately 800 bushels of apples to community groups.

For more information see the Carolinian Canada Signature Sites booklet, available for purchase in our shop here. You can also read about Sassafras Woods Signature Site on our website here.

Trafalgar Moraine

Location: north of Oakville from the Escarpment to the City of Mississauga

Date: n/a

Partners: Oakvillegreen, Halton Region ESA,

Just west of Toronto lies a scenic ridge of rolling hills, fields, forests and highly sensitive kettle lakes. This ridge is 20 km long and about 4 km wide; smaller than the Oak Ridges Moraine, but performing similar functions such as retaining and filtering water, retaining and building soil, sequestering carbon, providing oxygen and filtering pollution from the air. The Moraine is the headwaters for 6 creeks that flow through Oakville; the Fourteen Mile, McCraney’s, Shannon’s, Munn’s, Morrison, and Joshua’s Creeks. There are 25 woodlots and 26 wetlands to be found in this remaining green belt for Oakville. Most of the remaining 3100 ha of farmland in the area are found here. The Region ESA boundaries conform to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Earth Science ANSI of the same name. The glacial formations in the Moraine contain features that are unique for this region. Much of the moraine is still farmland, although the 407 was built diagonally across the area east of Sixteen Mile Creek. For more information go to and

Natural City: The Oakville Natural Heritage System

The establishment of a Natural Heritage System in North Oakville as a “first priority” of planning is a precedent-setting achievement. The permanent protection of about 30% of the 3,075 ha (7,600 ac) of recently urbanized area will protect water quality and wildlife, provide recreational and educational opportunies, and contribute to the overall quality of life for Oakville residents. The Natural Heritage System was developed through a scientific inventory of the area that studied its flora, fauna, geographical and hydrological features. The inventory found 89 regionally rare species. A highlight and important part of Halton’s heritage is the provincially rare Muhlenberg’s Sedge. The Natural Heritage System is comprised of environmentally significant core preserve areas, buffers for those areas and linkages between them. This system supports a high diversity of wildlife including migratory birds, raptors (eg. Hawks), frogs, salamanders and rare songbirds that depend on large woodlands. Rather than disconnected, scattered parks, the Natural Heritage System is a plan for a preserved ecological system that will ensure the long-term sustainability of the region’s natural heritage in an urban context. Halton Region is also considering incorporating an updated Natural Heritage Systems approach into its official plans.

Landowners Critical to Success

Since its inception, the Hamilton-Halton Watershed Stewardship Program of Conservation Halton and Hamilton Conservation Authority has connected with over 3,500 landowners, publicly recognized 300 Watershed Stewards who have made voluntary agreements to protect over 2,000 ha (5,000 ac) of natural land, 100 km of stream and 200 km of stream bank. More than 50,000 trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants have been planted. The program has become an essential resource for landowners and a model for other regions while contributing significantly to the health of the region. Watershed Stewardship Technicians provide on site advice to landowners with natural areas and watercourses. Financial assistance may be available to landowners wishing to undertake eligible water quality and habitat improvement projects.

Building Partnerships for Healthy Communities

For over 50 years, Credit Valley Conservation (CVC) has worked with partners and landowners to restore the watershed’s natural environment. The vast majority of the Credit River watershed’s lands and waters are privately owned and building partnerships with residents and other stakeholders is key to the long-term protection of this important resource. The Carolinian Zone in Halton forms a small but important part of the watershed, encompassing the southeastern extremities of the towns of Oakville, Milton and Halton Hills. CVC offers a private landowner tree planting service and CVC’s Green Cities initiative strives to build the connections between a healthy environment and human health. CVC partners with local residents, businesses and institutions to enhance the natural features and ecological functions in the urban and urbanizing areas throughout the watershed and create more liveable communities.

Stewarding the Urban Forest

The Halton Peel Woodlands and Wildlife Stewardship’s new urban forest initiative is aimed at enhancing natural cover in residential environments. Urban forests are critical to healthy communities. Trees provide vital environmental services that protect homes from heat, wind, air pollution and flooding. This program provides practical tools for homeowners and businesses including a planting list of native trees and shrubs. The group also facilitates tree planting events in Oakville, Burlington, Milton, Acton and Georgetown.

Bronte Creek Provincial Park

This 684 ha (1690 ac) park is located in the middle of Oakville, yet boasts some of the largest stands of Carolinian forest in the region. A natural oasis for over 5 million people living within the Greater Toronto Area, the park is home to such rare species as the Red-headed Woodpecker, the Northern Shrike, and the Northern Bush Katydid. The volunteer group, Friends of Bronte Creek, provide educational materials such as trail signs and trail guides, help maintain the park grounds and hold special events at the Park. Come, enjoy your wild neighbours.

Links Connect Nature and the Game

Robbie and Sharon Robinson, Superintendents of the Hidden Lake Golf Club in Burlington, achieved their long-time goal of becoming a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary in 2007. For more than ten years, they have worked to protect their local watershed and natural heritage. This certification reflects their continued efforts to enhance wildlife habitat. Their plan includes naturalizing areas that are not in play, restricting the use of pesticides, planting native species and encouraging ecological diversity. Hidden Lake Golf Club is one of only 34 golf courses in Ontario to receive such an accreditation. The Robinsons are Watershed Stewards as recognized by the Hamilton-Halton Watershed Stewardship Program.

Return to Eden: Stream Restoration at Hidden Valley Park

Erosion problems in Grindstone Creek were degrading water quality and fish habitat in this important tributary for Hamilton Harbour and Lake Ontario. The reach through Hidden Valley Park provides spawning and nursery habitat for Rainbow Trout, salmon and suckers. The City of Burlington commissioned the Grindstone Creek Stream Restoration Project in 2001. A minimum 3 m “No-Mow” strip was established to help protect the creek’s edges from erosion, slow and filter stormwater runoff and provide better wildlife habitat. The Aldershot Community Council, Field and Stream Rescue Team and the City of Burlington organized volunteer planting events, resulting in over 1000 trees and shrubs being planted. On the last Saturday in May, the Field and Stream Rescue Team hold their annual rubber duck race in Hidden Valley Park.

Restoring linkages along the Escarpment

Many years ago, Paul Fisher saw an opportunity to close a gap on his land in the woodlands that lined the brow of the Niagara Escarpment. He planted a mix of Red Oak, Sugar Maple, White Birch and White Spruce, and tended them as they grew into a healthy woodland. His son Peter continued the tradition of conservation, managing the woodland for timber in a sustainable way. Today, Peter and his son Jamie carry on the conservation work that Paul Fisher started. Many farmers like the Fishers frequently engage in stewardship work without financial assistance and with great personal commitment to create a healthier landscape for their community.

Clean Water, Healthy Livestock

Charlie and Nancy Tilt understood the nutrient problems in their pond were due to rainwater that was draining from the barn eavestrough through the barnyard. With funding from the federal government’s Agricultural Environmental Stewardship Initiative, they re-routed the drainage into a grassy area before reaching the pond. “We’re very pleased,” said Nancy. “Not only are we experiencing better water quality in the pond for the ducks and geese, but we’ve benefited in other ways as well. We don’t have water coming into our barn anymore and we don’t have to worry about the foundation being damaged.” The Tilts are Watershed Stewards as recognized by the Hamilton-Halton Watershed Stewardship Program.

The ‘Living Classroom’

Susan Kennedy and the students of Brookville Public School planted a ‘living classroom’ showcasing Carolinian habitats: tallgrass prairie, meadow, mixed forest, shrub thicket, and a butterfly garden. Native plants were carefully selected from local nurseries. The students now watch native birds, butterflies, amphibians and small mammals visit the garden. The entire community turned out to celebrate their work and both students and the community have learned a great deal and gained a sense of pride and stewardship for the unique nature on their doorstep. The Hamilton-Halton Watershed Stewardship Program and Conservation Halton were pleased to be a part of this project.

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