Monthly Archives: August 2021

Fifty Point beachgrass plantings kick off efforts to boost Conservation Area’s biodiversity

The planting funded by the Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority took place in October at Fifty Point CA which is the site of a planned wetland project.

The planting, which focused heavily on beachgrass and native shrubs has already begun to enhance the Conservation Area’s natural features along the Lake Ontario shoreline.

Further inland, a wetland has been planned for the west end of the Conservation Area. The project will divert a watercourse that was causing flooding concerns nearby and direct it through a newly constructed natural channel to the Conservation Area’s main pond. This will result in new spawning habitat for fish in both the channel and the pond boosting the productivity and sustainability of the Conservation Area’s natural areas.

Equestrian Campout goes virtual to ensure Dundas Valley trails are not forgotten

Volunteers from the local equestrian community were saddened when the 2020 and 2021 annual campouts were cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic.

While they weren’t able to gather en masse, that didn’t stop them from supporting the Dundas Valley Trails Fund. Donations received through a Virtual Equestrian Campout in December helped to raise $1,850 for the Fund.

As a result, Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) crews will be able to conduct much-needed repairs to bridges on the 40km Dundas Valley trail system. Two bridges on the Main Loop and Sawmill Trail are set to be rebuilt as part of a larger “bridge blitz” planned for this summer and fall.

The Equestrian Campout has supported the Dundas Valley Trails Fund since the early 1990s. The Dundas Valley Equestrian Association, which organizes the event, has now raised over $200,000 for the trails and are a key reason why the trail system has become such an important part of the Ancaster and Dundas communities.

Construction for first Saltfleet CA wetland near Battlefield Creek expected to begin in 2022.

Plans show the contours of the proposed wetlands set for construction.

The multi-year Saltfleet CA Wetland Project continues to move forward as Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) seeks to dramatically improve the resilience of the east end of the Hamilton watershed.

The final plans for the project are expected from the design consultant in the coming days. These plans will allow HCA to send out a tender for construction of the first wetland, with a target start date of late fall or early winter. HCA continues to work with its design consultant to secure all approvals required for the project to proceed.

The design plans call for two wetland storage facilities. The work will involve site regrading, berms, outlet control structures, and constructed wetland areas. A channel will be constructed connecting the new wetlands to the existing creek channel using natural channel design techniques.

The wetland is expected to be the first of a number of projects along the Upper Stoney and Battlefield Creeks. This work is taking place in the new Saltfleet Conservation Area which was established on land purchased with funding from the Heritage Green Community Trust and City of Hamilton.

Dear Friends

One of the few silver linings of this seemingly interminable pandemic is that people continue to get outdoors in record numbers.

The growing number of visitors to Hamilton’s conservation areas offers us an opportunity to connect with new people, new groups and new communities. More than ever before, our neighbours see the value in protecting our natural lands and making sure they are there when we need them.

I want to deliver a sincere thank you to all of our donors whose vision and generosity have protected so many of the beautiful and diverse spaces. Places like the Dundas Valley, the Eramosa Karst and Canal Park simply would not be here to help us through these difficult times if it wasn’t for our donors.

Your generosity gives me hope for the future and our growing capacity to meet the daunting challenges ahead. The Saltfleet Conservation Area Wetland Project will be a key part of that. Your support has already helped to protect the lands necessary to move this project forward.

Before we ask our growing community of conservationists to help build these new wetlands, I want to thank those of you who had the vision to get us here. Your support matters more than you could possibly know.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Stebbing
Chair

Jennifer Stebbing, Chair

Connecting students with the beauty of the Valley they call home

Ted and Madeleine Dwyer feel grateful for their family’s connection with the natural world that surrounds them. Living in the Dundas Valley, they are surrounded by some of the most diverse wildlife in Southern Ontario.

Their three children, Ethan, Asia and Mahalia, each connect with nature in their own ways. Asia is an avid runner and knows the Dundas Valley trails well while Ethan and Mahalia love taking the family dog out for long walks. Though the siblings sometimes roll their eyes when their parents prattle on about the importance of being in nature, they all enjoy their family hikes together.

Sharing that experience with other families is a big part of why they donate to the Foundation’s Step Into Nature Fund. Their donations support educational programming for Elementary and Secondary students. Madeleine, who came to Canada from the Philippines with her family as a young child, sees the value in connecting young people with nature: “Lots of newcomers face many challenges and are just trying to survive when they get here,” she explains. “They don’t always have time to explore what makes this place special. With the outdoor education program, students from Hamilton’s diverse communities learn about the value and the beauty of these spaces which may be totally new to them. With any luck, they bring their families back to the conservation area on their own. Making that connection can be the beginning of something really special.”

As for their own family’s connection with nature, much of that was forged close to their old family home in Westdale. They spent plenty of time exploring the Royal Botanical Gardens’ lands around Cootes Paradise when the kids were young.

Madeleine was also familiar with the Dundas Valley CA. As a teacher at a school in Hamilton’s north-end she took a number of classes to Hamilton Conservation Authority’s education programs in the Valley. “I had students who were used to being surrounded by concrete. The big, beautiful forest was a really exciting adventure for them,” she recalled.
The family’s own adventures took them to Europe and after a few years in Belgium and the Netherlands, they were ready to return home. When it was time to find a place to live, they were eager to settle in the Valley. They recently did major renovations on the home they chose almost ten years ago now. These included a number of measures to mitigate their footprint including solar panels and a geothermal system. Seeking a permit from HCA was a learning experience in and of itself. “We didn’t realize there were species at risk right here in the Valley when we started this process,” Madeleine explains. “For example, preparations for our renos involved taking steps to protect the habitat of the Jefferson Salamander. Now that we are more aware, we have even more reasons to appreciate and care for what surrounds us.”

The family wanted to do more, though, and got in touch with the Foundation to see how they could support the Valley. After meeting with Foundation Executive Director, Grace Correia, they decided to make a donation to the Step Into Nature Fund. It was important to try and help instill a love and respect for nature, particularly the Valley, through supporting outdoor education programs.

Madeleine and Ted want to do what they can for the community where they make a home. Though they have indicated that they plan to support the Foundation through a gift in their will, they’re eager to see that impact now, too.

They have supported the Step Into Nature Fund for two years now, helping HCA’s education programs weather the storm of the ongoing pandemic. Thanks to their generosity, the programs are able to connect with students remotely and will be ready to welcome classes back to the Dundas Valley CA as soon as it is safe to do so, helping to inspire a new generation of families to forge their own connections with nature.