Category Archives: News

Hamilton Community Foundation grant boosts new volunteer program

A volunteer removes Japanese Knotweed in the Dundas Valley Conservation Area.
A volunteer removes Japanese Knotweed in the Dundas Valley Conservation Area.

With a grant of $12,400 from the Hamilton Community Foundation’s Community Fund for the Environment, our EcoCise program will be able to have a much bigger impact on the Hamilton watershed’s conservation lands. The EcoCise program empowers community volunteers to improve our Conservation lands through a number of different events. Events include nature cleanups, invasive species removals and native species plantings. 

With this generous grant, Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) has been able to purchase everything needed to make a difference on our conservation lands. That means everything from gloves and pruning shears to a set of specialized garden tools called Extractigators which help pull stubborn, deep-rooted invasive plants such as buckthorn, which is found throughout the Hamilton watershed.

While the current Covid-19 situation has put our volunteer events on hold for the time being, we’re still hoping to hold as many events as possible this year. Those events include a garlic mustard pull at the Eramosa Karst Conservation Area, a community clean-up day on the Hamilton to Brantford Rail Trail and an invasive species pull at the Rifle Range Quarry in the Dundas Valley just to name a few.

If you would like to get involved in EcoCise, your first step is to visit the HCA volunteer page and submit your contact information.

Staying safe and caring for conservation lands

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Hamilton Conservation Foundation staff and Board of Directors want to extend our best wishes to you and your family.

Our offices are currently closed. Our staff, however, continue to carry out the work of the Foundation from home. If you should have any need to contact us, please don’t hesitate to call 905-525-2181 ext 129 or email foundation@conservationhamilton.ca. We will continue to put your donations to work and respond to your inquiries.

We will monitor the situation and adjust the dates of our upcoming events as necessary.

Friends of Westfield help raise $30,000

The Friends of Westfield’s volunteer fundraising efforts have netted the group a hefty sum of $30,000 which has been donated to the Foundation’s Westfield Funds.

The Friends of Westfield Heritage Village volunteer group recently presented the Foundation with a cheque for $30,000 to be used for projects at Westfield.

The donations represent the proceeds generated by volunteers running Westfield’s wildly successful Gift Shop and various volunteer fundraising efforts through the year including the group’s popular annual Chinese Dinner and Spring Plant Sale.

Donations to Westfield help to bring Southern Ontario’s rich cultural heritage to life for thousands of visitors every year. Donations support costumes, artifact collections, building restorations and projects that connect Westfield to the larger Conservation Area being planned for the natural areas behind the Village.

To add your support to the Foundation’s Westfield Fund, please visit our donation page.

Tribute Trees program honours loved ones with plantings across the Hamilton watershed.

A donation of $125 to the Foundation’s Tribute Trees is directed to our Planting Fund and is used to plant native trees and shrubs where they’re needed most on conservation lands in the Hamilton Watershed.

In addition, the name of the individual or organization being honoured is recognized on signage in the Beckett Forest in the Dundas Valley Conservation Area for a period of at least one year. An acknowledgement of the tribute is also be sent directly to the person or organization being recognized or to the family of the person being remembered.

To dedicate a tree, please visit hamiltonconservationfoundation.ca/tree

Wetland project shows growing importance of natural lands to climate emergency

This past March, the City of Hamilton declared a climate emergency, noting the escalating threats posed by increasingly extreme storm events. Our
Foundation is proud to put your donations to work at the Saltfleet Conservation Area, a showcase wetland project that is leading the fight to protect our communities with the help of Mother Nature.

The Saltfleet wetland project is part of a decade-long vision to build wetlands and natural stream channels to build the resilience of the Stoney and Battlefield Creeks. Construction on the first wetland is expected to begin once design plans are finished next year.

The Foundation is proud to have put over $150,000 from the RBC Foundation and our Land Securement Fund into the Saltfleet Conservation Area project’s design studies and cleanup costs. This is on top of the $4 million already contributed for land acquisition by the Heritage Green Community Trust and City of Hamilton.

Canal Park viewing platform completes conservation vision for former greenhouse property in Dundas

With grants from the Hamilton Future Fund and John Deere Foundation of Canada, a viewing platform now connects visitors to the edge of the Desjardins Canal.

On a chilly Saturday in September, Foundation donors and community volunteers gathered to celebrate the completion of a new viewing platform at Canal Park. The crowd was treated to an afternoon of classical guitar with local musician Gary Santucci.

The event, paid for by an anonymous donor, capped off the final stage in the long-term vision for the former Veldhuis Greenhouses proprety. The property is situated in an ideal location between urban downtown Dundas, the Royal Botanical Gardens natural lands and the larger Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System.

Volunteers Brian Baetz, Joanna Chapman and Ben Vanderbrug had a vision to turn what had become a derelict brownfield site into a large-scale naturalization project. They connected Hamilton Conservation Authority with the vision for this property and encouraged the fundraising campaign which brought it to fruition.

The property connects urban Dundas and Hamilton with the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System and its 3,900 hectares of natural lands.

While it may look like a haphazard collection of weeds, shrubs and trees, the site is actually the result of a landscape plan that sought to provide miniature examples of the grassland, wetland and oak savannah ecosystems which are found throughout the diverse lands that make up the EcoPark System.

Barn Swallow habitat project off to a flying start

Following the success of a spur-of-the-moment springtime fundraising effort, the habitat structure in the Meadowlands Conservation Area hosted its first nests just a few months after it was built. The structure will provide vital habitat for the barn swallow, a provincially-listed Species at Risk.

Readers may remember an earlier for call for donations to provide a much-needed habitat structure in the Meadowlands Conservation Area. Barn swallows, a provincially-listed Species at Risk, had begun nesting in nooks and crannies around the exterior of the houses that surround the Conservation Area. As a result, the Foundation put out a call in these pages for donations to help build a habitat structure.

Thanks to the community’s generosity and a grant from the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, we were able to get the structure built in the Conservation Area before nesting season began. The structure, built with help from Bird Studies Canada, mimics the conditions the swallows used to enjoy in the barns and outbuildings which occupied the land before it was developed into housing. A variety of cups, ledges and corners populate
the structure’s interior.

The summer was spent with Hamilton Conservation Authority staff nervously checking for signs of the elusive birds. One afternoon at the beginning of the Fall, our efforts were rewarded when two of the barn swallow’s distinctive mud nests were found tucked into the sturcture’s corners.

The Meadowlands Conservation Area, with its diversity of native shrubs and grasses, is an ideal hunting ground for the barn swallow. The swallows feed on a variety of insects and enjoy hunting in the large open spaces the Conservation Area offers.

Join us for an evening with Adam Shoalts: Modern Day Explorer

Adam Shoalts will be sharing stories and footage from the adventures which inspired his latest book, Beyond the Trees.

The Foundation is thrilled to announce that we’ll be hosting Adam Shoalts at The Westdale for an exclusive speaking and film presentation on November 13th at 7:30pm. Tickets are $25 (includes HST) and are available now at thewestdale.ca. All proceeds will go to support the Foundation’s Area of Greatest Need Fund which supports the most urgent environmental needs on conservation lands in the Hamilton watershed.

Join the Hamilton Conservation Foundation for this exclusive speaking and film presentation where Adam will share the thrilling ups and downs of his solo adventures paddling raging rivers and relying on his skills as a white-water canoeist to survive.

A writer, explorer, public speaker, and Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, Adam has mapped unknown rivers, lead expeditions, explored archaeological digs, and photographed countless examples of elusive and rare wildlife. Beyond the Trees, the highly anticipated, incredible story of Adam’s nearly 4,000 km solo journey across Canada’s Arctic, is now in bookstores.

Click here to buy your tickets today!

Friends of the Eramosa Karst ensure Conservation Area thrives as surrounding neighbourhoods grow

(l to r) FOTEK representatives Doug Dunford, Brad Gautreau and Margaret Reid present a cheque to Grace Correia, Foundation Executive Director, Cllr. Lloyd Ferguson, HCA Chair and Lisa Burnside HCA CAO.

The Friends of the Eramosa Karst (FOTEK) have donated $60,000 to the Foundation thanks to a grant from the Heritage Green Community Trust. The funding helps us complete the next step in efforts to plant a buffer of vegetation between the Conservation Area’s lush meadows and the surrounding residential developments. With continued growth around the Conservation Area, these plantings are more vital than ever.

The trees and shrubs funded through this donation will be planted, in part during a volunteer day on Saturday, September 21st. Normally this email would include a call for volunteers but, due to FOTEK’s overwhelming success in bringing community together, the event is already full!

This donation brings FOTEK up to the $100,000 Trustee of Conservation level on the Foundation’s Donor Wall and will be honoured at the Foundation’s 2020 Appreciation Evening next May.

Hamilton Future Fund grant connects Canal Park with waterfront

The viewing platform and shade structure completes the Canal Park vision and brings the Foundation’s EcoPark Campaign efforts to a successful close.

A grant from the Hamilton Future Fund means that a new shade structure and canal viewing platform are now complete at Canal Park. The structure offers visitors to the urban nature sanctuary a chance to get right up to the water.

The structure will be formally unveiled at an event on Sunday, September 29 from 2-4pm which will feature a classical guitar performance by Gary Santucci. Readers are welcome to attend and are encouraged to RSVP to foundation@conservationhamilton.ca or 905-525-2181 ext. 129.

The site of the former Ben Veldhuis Greenhouses has been a part of a decade-long brownfield restoration effort funded through donations to the Foundation’s EcoPark Campaign. The Campaign sought to turn the site into an urban nature sanctuary and acquire natural lands between Cootes Paradise and the Niagara Escarpment as part of the multi-partner Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System. With this grant, the Foundation was able to bring the last piece of the Campaign vision to its successful completion.

Back to School and Back to Nature

Outdoor Environmental Education teacher-naturalist James O’Neill shows families around the Dundas Valley Conservation Area on a guided hike at the end of August.

Now that we are well into September, we are waking up to chillier mornings and little pockets of leaves are starting to hint that Fall is just around the corner. This is an exciting time of year out in our Conservation Areas. Schools are back in session and classes are once again exploring the Dundas Valley Conservation Area as part of our Outdoor Environmental Education program.

Our Outdoor Environmental Education program provides classes with curriculum-focused field trips to the Dundas Valley CA. These sessions bring classroom lessons to life in the great outdoors. Every year, over 5,000 students are able to benefit from this experience.

Those students get to enjoy the Valley because of donations from generous people like you. Donations fund our Outdoor Environmental Education program and ensure that, despite increasing budget pressures on schools and Conservation Authorities, Hamilton’s students will still get their day in the Valley.

To all of you who continue to support this program with donations to our Outdoor Environmental Education Fund: thank you!

Design Plan to keep Saltfleet Conservation Area moving toward large-scale wetland vision

A relatively nondescript patch of former agricultural land, prone to regular flooding events from Battlefield Creek, is set to be home to part of a manmade wetland complex.

With a generous grant of $100,000 from the RBC Foundation, previously announced in our electronic newsletter, Hamilton Conservation Authority has hired a consultant to design what is expected to be the region’s largest manmade wetland.

The wetland is planned for a property along Battlefield Creek near First Road in Stoney Creek acquired by the Hamilton Conservation Authority with a $2 million land acquisition grant from the Heritage Green Community Trust. The wetland is expected to be formed by a raised berm along First Road. The berm will hold back hold back water while a variety of natural features will be installed to slow the pace and cool the temperature of Battlefield Creek allowing it to assume its original, meandering shape and spill over into a variety of pools. This approach is expected to provide vital flood prevention downstream and add a massive boost to local biodiversity.

The long-term vision for the Conservation Area is expected to also include a connection to the nearby Devil’s Punchbowl along the Dofasco 2000 Trail.

With this donation, the RBC Foundation has reached a milestone in their support for the Hamilton Conservation Foundation. The donation saw the RBC Foundation recognized at the $250,000-499,999 – Benefactor of Conservation level on the Foundation’s donor wall and at our recent Appreciation Day at the Dundas Valley Golf & Curling Club.

Dofasco 2000 Trail boardwalk gets complete overhaul

A section of the Dofasco 2000 Trail Boardwalk shown after a complete rebuild.

With a donation of $200,000 over two years from ArcelorMittal Dofasco GP, the Upper Stoney Creek trail linking the Devil’s Punchbowl and Vinemount Swamp will be rebuilt and prepared for linkages to the new Saltfleet Conservation Area.

The trail has seen a number of closures in recent years as the Emerald Ash Borer dramatically altered the tree canopy and the boardwalks aging footings began to deteriorate.

With ArcelorMittal Dofasco GP’s gift, the Conservation Authority was able to begin work on a complete rebuild of the boardwalk this past winter. The work is now half complete and is expected re-start this coming winter.

The trail investment is especially timely as it runs alongside part of the Saltfleet Conservation Area and has the potential to connect visitors to the property once the area’s long-term wetland project is complete.

Design Plan to keep Saltfleet Conservation Area moving toward large-scale wetland vision

A relatively nondescript patch of former agricultural land, prone to regular flooding events from Battlefield Creek, is set to be home to part of a manmade wetland complex.

With a generous grant of $100,000 from the RBC Foundation, previously announced in our electronic newsletter, Hamilton Conservation Authority has hired a consultant to design what is expected to be the region’s largest manmade wetland.

The wetland is planned for a property along Battlefield Creek near First Road in Stoney Creek acquired by the Hamilton Conservation Authority with a $2 million land acquisition grant from the Heritage Green Community Trust. The wetland is expected to be formed by a raised berm along First Road. The berm will hold back hold back water while a variety of natural features will be installed to slow the pace and cool the temperature of Battlefield Creek allowing it to assume its original, meandering shape and spill over into a variety of pools. This approach is expected to provide vital flood prevention downstream and add a massive boost to local biodiversity.

The long-term vision for the Conservation Area is expected to also include a connection to the nearby Devil’s Punchbowl along the Dofasco 2000 Trail.

With this donation, the RBC Foundation has reached a milestone in their support for the Hamilton Conservation Foundation. The donation saw the RBC Foundation recognized at the $250,000-499,999 – Benefactor of Conservation level on the Foundation’s donor wall and at our recent Appreciation Day at the Dundas Valley Golf & Curling Club.

Friends of the Eramosa Karst build on years of tireless advocacy with fundraising and volunteer plantings

(l to r) Fred Fuchs, Nicole Bedell, Margaret Reid and Jennifer Stebbing celebrate FOTEK’s achievement

The Foundation was thrilled to recognize the Friends of the Eramosa Karst (FOTEK) this Spring at our 2019 Appreciation Event as they reached the Pioneer of Conservation ($50,000- 99,999) level on our Donor Wall.

Founded in October 2007, the group of volunteers sought to protect the Eramosa Karst Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI) from a proposed housing development. They successfully launched a public relations and fundraising campaign aimed at lobbying the provincial government. Ultimately they were successful in getting the Province to donate the Eramosa Karst Conservation Area to the Hamilton Conservation Authority.

Following that success, the volunteers helped to protect the “Feeder Lands” surrounding the Conservation Area, having them turned over to HCA for a long-term lease for a nominal fee. Despite two extraordinary successes, FOTEK’s volunteers have not quit. They continue to fundraise, lead guided hikes through the area and attract dozens of volunteers for annual native species plantings.

We at the Hamilton Conservation Foundation were extraordinarily proud to recognize FOTEK on May 13 at our Appreciation Evening as they reached the Pioneer of Conservation ($50,000-99,999) level on our Donor Wall.

Volunteer groups start pulling invasive species from Conservation Areas and private lands

The EcoCise series of volunteer events is run by the Hamilton Watershed Stewardship Program and Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) Ecology department. Their work is supported in part by donations to the Foundation’s Stewardship Fund.

A staff member removed Japanese Knotweed at the edge of the Dundas Valley Conservation Area.

While acres of garlic mustard and phragmites are a formidable foe, a group of volunteers has formed to help limit the spread of invasive species across the Hamilton watershed. Organized by the Hamilton Watershed Stewardship Program and HCA Ecology Department, the volunteers get together every few weeks to do something positive for the environment and enjoy some of the wellness benefits of exercise and time spent outdoors in the process.

With three events completed to date, the group has removed dozens of bags of japanese knotweed and garlic mustard with plans to continue their efforts through the rest of the summer.

Three further invasive removal days are planned along with six litter cleanup days.

If you or a group you know are interested in getting involved
with an EcoCise event, please email volunteer@conservationhamilton.ca.

To donate in support of these efforts, visit our donation page and select
“Hamilton Watershed Stewardship Program” as the donation recipient.

Dofasco 2000 Trail boardwalk sees much-needed improvements thanks to generous donation

The Dofasco 2000 Trail boardwalk is getting some much-needed attention.

The aging 1.7 km boardwalk, part of a larger 11.5 km multi-use trail, had increasing safety and accessibility concerns which threatened to limit community access to the Vinemount South Swamp.

With a pledge of $200,000 over two years, ArcelorMittal Dofasco’s donation will ensure that the boardwalk is rebuilt and improved for a new generation of trail users. Work has already begun over the winter months to put this donation to work.

The funding is especially timely given that the trail will link the Vinemount South Swamp with the Saltfleet Conservation Area. The new Conservation Area is part of a 10-year project which seeks to create the largest urban wetland in Canada and help reduce the impact of heavy rains on lower Stoney Creek.

Hamilton Port Authority donation celebrates impact of Spencer Creek habitat improvements on broader Harbour ecosystem.

Decades of urbanization have degraded the creek’s ecological function. A few small tweaks have made it a whole lot more hospitable to native fish species.

A new set of habitat improvements to Lower Spencer Creek, undertaken in 2018, has already begun to improve the ecological productivity of the creek system. A donation from the Hamilton Port Authority will help educate visitors about the benefits of the little-known project.

To anyone hiking along the Lower Spencer Creek Rail Trail near Cootes Drive, the improvements are hard to notice, let alone understand. The salmon, walleye and other species that use the creek, however, see things a little differently. With riffle pools, brush layering and boulder clusters, the creek now boasts a number of features these species need in order to forage, spawn and thrive.

Thanks to the Hamilton Port Authority, two panels will be installed along the trail to explain just how these habitat improvements will impact Lower Spencer Creek, Cootes Paradise and the larger Hamilton Harbour ecosystem.

Cider Shack project moving forward in the heart of the Dundas Valley CA

Fundraising efforts for the $50,000 project are already half-way complete.

Efforts to renovate the Merrick Cider Shack in the Dundas Valley Conservation Area are moving ahead with plans taking shape and fundraising getting underway.

The Cider Shack, set in the middle of the former orchard turned meadow, is in the heart of a biodiversity hot spot. The open spaces surrounding the Shack will provide great bird watching for visitors as well as children taking part in Hamilton Conservation Authority’s Outdoor  Environmental Education program.

Barn Swallow project aims to provide vital habitat to Species at Risk at Meadowlands CA

A new barn swallow habitat structure will help decrease nesting along the facades of nearby homes.

Barn swallows have begun nesting in the archways of homes adjacent to the Meadowlands Conservation Area. The Conservation Area has great foraging lands and plenty of mud, an essential part of their nests. What the area lacks, however, is a suitable nesting structure.

With a $5,000 fundraising goal, the project build a new structure in the Conservation Area so that Barn Swallows can continue to nest and avoid confrontations with area homeowners.

Click here to donate today!