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.

Saltfleet Conservation Area wetland project enters design phase thanks to RBC Foundation grant

The wetland will sit upstream from the Devil’s Punchbowl Conservation Area on Battlefield Creek and provide much-needed relief from flooding and erosion.

Following an extensive Environmental Assessment and countless mapping and hydrology exercises, the Hamilton Conservation Authority is ready to start work on designing a new wetland at the Saltfleet Conservation Area along Battlefield Creek. Design work for that wetland can now proceed thanks to a generous grant of $100,000 from the RBC Foundation.

The wetland, planned for a stretch of Battlefield Creek near First Road in Stoney Creek recently acquired by the Hamilton Conservation Authority, is expected to provide a long list of community benefits. It is expected to provide much-needed relief from flooding and erosion downstream and dramatically boost the ecological productivity of the east end of the Hamilton watershed.

With this donation, the RBC Foundation has reached a milestone in their support for the Hamilton Conservation Foundation. The donation will see the RBC Foundation recognized at the $250,000-499,999 – Benefactor of Conservation level on the Foundation’s donor wall and at our upcoming Appreciation Day.

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!

New Tribute Trees program will help kickstart planting projects throughout Hamilton watershed

Trees play an important role in our environment. Among other things, they provide shade and cooling, hold pollutants and carbon, and provide food and habitat for our birds and other species. Planting a tree is the easiest thing we can do to improve our quality of life now and for
future generations.

And now there’s a way for you to help us plant more trees, while recognizing someone.

The Hamilton Conservation Foundation’s Tribute Tree Program provides an opportunity to commemorate a special occasion or the life of a loved one. A donation of $125 to the Foundation’s Tribute Trees will be directed to our Planting Fund and will be used to plant native trees and shrubs where they’re needed most in the Hamilton Watershed.

A charitable receipt will be provided for your contribution.

In addition, the name of the individual or organization being honoured will be recognized on signage in the Beckett Forest in the Dundas Valley Conservation Area starting in summer 2019. An acknowledgement of your tribute will also be sent directly to the person or organization being recognized or to the family of the person being remembered.

To find out more about the program and make a donation, please click here.

Eramosa Karst Volunteer Plantings help buffer natural areas from housing developments and educate neighbours on the value of meadow habitat

As Hamilton’s population and housing needs grow, more and more pressure is placed on our watershed’s natural areas. The Friends of the Eramosa Karst (FOTEK) are making things easier on the natural world.

When neighbours of the Eramosa Karst CA Feeder Lands started mowing the areas behind their properties, they likely thought they were just cleaning up the weeds. The Feeder Lands, which surround the Conservation Area to the North, East and South, host vital habitat for butterflies, breeding birds and a number of Species at Risk. Continue reading

Remembering Past-Chair Hugh Clark, a volunteer, donor and friend of conservation.

Quiet, behind the scenes approach helped raise money for countless Conservation Foundation projects spanning four decades.

It was with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Foundation Past Chair, Hugh Clark, at the end of August. Hugh was a passionate conservationist and served on the
Foundation’s Board of Directors from 1977 to 1996, serving as chair from 1988 to 1991.

Both as a Director and Chairman, Hugh’s passion for Land Acquisition played a vital role in securing hundreds of acres of wetlands throughout the Spencer Creek headwaters. As Chair
of the Foundation’s Land Acquisition Committee, Hugh used his contacts to secure gifts from a number of local corporations, Foundations and service clubs which helped the Conservation Authority acquire parcels of land in the Beverly Swamp and Fletcher Creek. Continue reading

Happy Holidays from the Hamilton Conservation Foundation!

As we reach the end of 2018, we at the Hamilton Conservation Foundation would like to thank you for your help in protecting the things that make the Hamilton watershed a special place.

Thanks to your support, over 5,700 students explored the Dundas Valley Conservation Area through our Education program and new wetlands are being designed at the Saltfleet Conservation Area. We’re also rebuilding the Dofasco 2000 Trail boardwalk in Vinemount Swamp and expanding our trails in the recently-protected natural areas behind Westfield Heritage Village. None of this would not have been possible without your generosity.

On behalf of all of the beautiful and diverse natural areas in the Hamilton watershed, thank you!

Apply to join our Board!

Do you want to make a difference for the Hamilton watershed? Do your personal and professional experiences give you a skill set that could make a difference for our organization? The Hamilton Conservation Foundation is looking for people who care deeply about the natural world and are willing to commit their time, effort and skills to our volunteer Board of Directors.

If you would like to meet with some of our staff and volunteers to discuss how you might be able to contribute, please send your resumé and a cover letter (outlining your interest in our organization), by email to foundation@conservationhamilton.ca.

Directors are expected to put their skills to work at our monthly Board of Directors meetings and by assisting with:

  • Fundraising
  • Strategic Planning
  • Risk Management
  • Monitoring
  • Governance
  • Director Development and Evaluation
  • External Relationships
  • Thanking our Wonderful Donors

There is no deadline to apply. Recruitment will continue to be an ongoing process.

Kids head back to school and back to nature

Thanks to the incredible support of our donors, we’re kicking off the 2018-19 school year with one of the busiest fall sessions in recent memory. 2018 marks the first time that the Foundation has committed to raising all of Hamilton Conservation Authority’s share of its education budget through donations.

We’ve reached out to companies, Foundations and people like you to help us meet our increased commitment and we’ve been thrilled with the response. Thanks to your support, our education program is stronger than ever and bringing students on field trips from across Hamilton.

Click here to see a list of supporters to this vital program, or to make your own donation!

Experience the magic of a child’s field trip to the Dundas Valley at our Fall Donor Appreciation Hike

Do you wish you could see nature through the eyes of a child? When was the last time a teacher took you and your friends on a hike through the Dundas Valley Conservation Area? If this sounds like something you’d like to experience, we’d love to have you at our Fall Donor Appreciation Hike.

We’ll be recreating the outdoor classroom experience for our donors as our way of saying thank you for your incredible support. Staff from our Education program will be on-hand to point out all of the different critters, plants and tracks that fill our Conservation Area. To receive an invitation in your inbox, subscribe to our newsletter or make a donation. Our event will take place Saturday, October 27th.

Equestrian Campout proceeds help fund fall Headwaters Trail renewal

Back in August, the Dundas Valley CA Parking Lot was transformed into a stable as dozens of horses and equestrians got together to fundraise for the Dundas Valley CA trail system. The event featured riders from across the province and raised $12,138 for the Dundas Valley Trail Fund.

As a result, Hamilton Conservation Authority will be able to increase the amount of maintenance done on the trail system this fall. Planned improvements to the Headwaters Trail will take place in October with added gravel, grade adjustment, culverts and other drainage features helping to increase the resilience of the trail.

The Dundas Valley Trails Fund is able to support this work because of funds raised through the Equestrian Campout, Sulphur Springs Trail Run, Autumn Stroll event proceeds and donations from everyday people like you.

At-Risk Schools getting outdoors in record numbers

A bus-subsidy grant from the Edith H Turner Foundation Fund at the Hamilton Community Foundation funded 16 trips with 679 students in 2015-16. In the 2016-17 school year that number rose to 67 trips with 2,814 students!

The grant was originally intended to help schools who had stopped attending Outdoor Environmental Education programming due to rising transportation costs. After reconnecting
with the programming, teachers started to notice what a positive impact it was having on their students.

It turns out that the funding has connected our program with the children who need it most. At the beginning of the 2016-17 school year, several bookings came in from schools eager
to access grant funding once again.

This caused the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board to take notice. Seeing the impact of the programming firsthand, the School Board increased it’s bookings from 112 days
of classes to 140 days of classes.

This response has also caused the Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) to expand the program, the cost of which will be covered by donations to the Foundation’s Outdoor
Environmental Education Fund.

This year, the Foundation has increased its fundraising goal to$125,000 to build on these great successes and ensure that this vital programming doesn’t suffer from increasing pressure on the HCA budget.

An appeal to local businesses and community organizations is planned, with all donations of $1,000 or greater recognized on a banner at the Education Centre in the Dundas Valley Conservation Area.

Leave a Natural Legacy

Make a continuing investment in conservation through estate planning and legacy giving to the Hamilton Conservation Foundation.

A legacy gift is a planned future donation to a charity, given through a will or other form of designation. It is a decision that each person makes in their own financial planning process, taking into account their charitable wishes and values.

Consider a legacy gift to the Hamilton Conservation Foundation when you are evaluating your personal, family, and financial needs as well as your long-term charitable giving. There are different options for legacy gifts which may provide significant tax benefits. Your accountant, lawyer, or financial planner can give you information and advice on how to best make these gifts work for you.

Let us know!

If you have already created a legacy gift, please take a moment to let us know. Any information you provide will help us to respect your gift intention, honour your legacy, plan for the future confidently, and inspire others to follow your kind example. Your specific gift will always remain strictly confidential.

Legacy Giving Circle

A legacy gift is a lasting statement of your generosity and care, and an opportunity to say you believe conservation is important now and forever. The Foundation’s newly introduced Legacy Giving Circle will allow us to recognize your generosity and provide updates on how your support will make a positive difference in conservation.

Deputy Environmental Commissioner praises donor efforts

With a changing climate, growing population and the ever-growing threats posed by invasive species, the importance of protected areas, especially those which host native species, grows every day.

Ellen Schwartzel is surprisingly upbeat for someone speaking about the dire realities of a changing climate. Addressing a room full of Foundation donors at our May 14th event, the
Deputy Environmental Commisioner of Ontario is keen to point out the necessity of projects like the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System.

“Wildlife corridors are going to be essential moving forward. As the climate warms, species will need to migrate to find suitable habitat. We can’t just send out a memo to all of the creatures in the forest!” she explains with a wry smile.

ECO (Environmental Commissioner of Ontario) is a nonpartisan arm’s-length agency funded by the Province of Ontario to audit the Government’s actions from an environmental perspective. The organization also drives citizen engagement on environmental issues through Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights and a new toolkit designed to arm citizens with the tools they need to demand environmental accountability in their communities.

She points to the progress made in closing coal-fired power plants, massive decreases in smog-days and Greenbelt protection as reasons to be optimistic. Keeping the crowd focused on what can be done to move forward, Schwartzel suggests the simplest of actions: plant a tree.

“Preferably a native one!” she adds, noting the extraordinary prevalence of just four species,  especially the Norway Maple, in Toronto’s urban tree canopy. A diverse canopy of native trees and, of course, protected spaces for them to thrive, will be essential to the sustainable communities of the future which will grapple with a rapidly changing climate.

Schwartzel notes that with over 11,000 acres owned or managed by the Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA), representing approximately 10% of the watershed, we are in a better position than most Ontario communities to adapt to a changing climate.

Plantings at Tew Falls seek to protect sensitive Escarpment habitat

The extraordinary popularity of waterfalls is impressive, but it continues to put an undue strain on some of our area’s rarest and most sensitive habitats.

Lands in the Spencer Gorge feature some of the only stretches of the Niagara Escarpment which face southward, making them an ideal habitat for Species at Risk. The lands are also a popular hiking spot with local thrill-seekers, who continue to venture off-trails and encroach on the escarpment. While these adventures offer extraordinary views, they also harm local plant populations.

In an aim to curb this damage, the Foundation is raising funds for native species plantings in strategic areas on and adjacent to Escarpment slopes. These plantings, along with additional fencing and signage are expected to discourage off-trail use and improve the prospects of the Species at Risk that call the area home.

Long-awaited Canal Park amenities to be installed this fall

After staff changes, talks with neighbours and a number of proposed designs, a shade structure  will finally be installed next to the Desjardins Canal this fall.
While the original design called for a large fabric structure, concern over wildlife conflicts and  ongoing maintenance has led to a more resilient and less obtrusive design option featuring trellises.

The Canal Park project, including these latest improvements, has been funded through  community donations to the EcoPark Campaign, which also helped to acquire 3 key properties  in the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System.

Saltfleet Conservation Area flood control plans taking shape

With the successful conclusion of an Environmental Assessment, plans to construct flood control structures can enter the design stage.

The first structure, to be built along Upper Battlefield Creek, is expected to hold back up to 220,000 cubic metres of water (equivalent to 88 Olympic-sized swimming pools) and will feed a network of man-made wetlands which will provide a massive boost to local biodiversity along with mitigating flood risks downstream.

The long-term vision for the Conservation Area will include a trail network and other passive recreation infrastructure connecting to the Dofasco 2000 Trail. Design work on these amenities,  however, cannot begin until several years of flood-control projects are complete.