Monday, March 29, 2010

Stranded on the South Shore

The South Shore trails of the Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) in Cootes Paradise are becoming a bit of an island, isolated from the McMaster University section of the trail system, primarily by the loss of the bridge over Spencer Creek (the RBG does not plan on replacing it).

Those of us who have used the trail to walk between the eastern end of the Spencer Creek Trail and the RBG trails to McMaster and beyond into Westdale/Princess Point have lost a very scenic route; our loss may be wildlife's gain, as the RBG refines its trail network to protect important pockets of wilderness habitat.

Part of me agrees with the strategy, but another part of me wonders if cutting trails back while not taking more action to shrink the human footprint of roads and development is the right approach. This section in particular was part of a continuous route that nature lovers could retreat to as an alternative to walking beside busy roads.

If you know this area, what do you think about this issue?
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Friday, March 26, 2010

temporary trail closure for prescribed burn


This spring, Royal Botanical Gardens will be conducting several prescribed burns in order to restore rare oak woodland, oak savannah and tallgrass prairie habitat at Sassafras Point, Princess Point and York Boulevard Prairie of the Cootes Paradise Nature Sanctuary in Hamilton.

Prescribed burns require specific weather conditions and accurate forecasting before a precise date can be established. A second notice will be posted on our website once the date is confirmed.
Visit for a daily countdown to the burn day!

Tallgrass Prairie and Oak Savannah Management at RBG

Today, less than one percent of Hamilton’s prairies and savannas remain. Prairie and savannah plant communities require frequent disturbances such as fire to be maintained. Without fire, woody plants and invasive species take over. Ecologists use low-intensity burns as a tool to restore these rare communities. In the past 30 years, highly successful burn operations have been demonstrated in many similar ecosystems throughout southern Ontario, including urban parkland settings in Toronto and Windsor.

Fire Safety

RBG’s oak savannah and tallgrass prairie burn will take place under the supervision of prescribed burn specialists from Lands & Forests Consulting Ltd. This will ensure that controlled conditions exist throughout the course of the event. Local fire departments and governments have approved the burn plan. There will be a safe viewing area at Princess Point for visitors to witness the prescribed burn.
The fuel type and length of burn will produce minimal smoke, however smoke may be present for up to 48 hours after the fire has been extinguished. For health reasons, it is recommended that asthmatics avoid prolonged exposure to the smoke. In addition to this, the smoke may contain small amounts of poison ivy oil. Those individuals who
are sensitive to poison ivy should avoid exposure to the smoke. If respiratory irritation occurs, please move immediately to an area with fresh air and contact a physician.

There will be no access to Ginger Valley Trail from Princess Point on the day of the burn. Sassafras Point trail will remain closed before, during and after the burn.

Get Involved!

If you are interested in volunteering for this important and exciting restoration event, or if you have any questions or concerns, please contact Lindsay Burtenshaw, Royal Botanical Gardens’ Terrestrial Ecologist, at or 905-527-1158 ext. 257.

The 2010 Oak Savannah and Woodland Prescribed Burn Project is supported by the Edith H. Turner Foundation Fund through the Hamilton Community Foundation.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

bay ice

Mild weather is reducing the ice on the Hamilton Bay, but there were still at least two ice-fishing holes still being worked. The view from the Waterfront Trail on the harbour, looking north, north east toward Burlington on a sunny, 10 degree C day in March.
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