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Lake Erie North Shore Watershed Plan - Niagara Peninsula ...

Lake Erie North Shore Watershed Plan - Niagara Peninsula ...

LAKE ERIE NORTH SHORE

LAKE ERIE NORTH SHORE WATERSHED PLAN In Ontario the PPS (MMAH 2005) calls for the wise use and management of resources, accordingly Section 2.1.2 of the PPS states: “The diversity and connectivity of natural features in an area, and the long-term ecological function and biodiversity of natural heritage systems, should be maintained, restored or, where possible, improved, recognizing linkages between and among natural heritage features and areas, surface water features and ground water features.” As previously indicated, Regional Niagara‟s Policy Plan: Regional Strategy for Development and Conservation (RMN 2007a), includes objectives for a healthy landscape in the environmental policies. For example, Policy 7.A.1b calls upon planning authorities to employ an ecosystem approach that address “The health and integrity of the broader landscape, including impacts on the natural environment in neighboring jurisdictions” when making decisions regarding planning and development or conservation. Likewise, the Natural Environment Policies of the Haldimand County Official Plan also outline various policies related to the Natural Environment, including specific policies for Provincially Significant Wetlands and Habitat for Endangered and Threatened Species, as well as general policies for other significant natural environmental features. The County is “committed to preserving significant Natural Environmental Areas to sustain essential ecological functions and protect natural biological diversity” (Section 2.A.1). The Lake Erie North Shore Watershed Plan Restoration Strategy (Table 20 to 33) acknowledges and addresses linkages and potential corridors that extend outside of the study area. Large core areas that are present within and outside of the study area (e.g. Humberstone Marsh, Wainfleet Bog) play an integral role in the formation or enhancement of corridors. Lake Erie North Shore Watershed Study Area Natural Heritage Resources The percentages of upland forest cover, wetlands, and riparian habitat in the Lake Erie North Shore watershed are recorded in Table 2. These figures will be assessed based on the guidelines set by Environment Canada (EC) (2004c) as part of the restoration strategies in the watershed plan. All of the natural heritage areas including wetlands, woodlots, Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI), Environmentally Sensitive/Significant areas and old growth forests are illustrated on Figures 11a, 11b, 12a, 12b, 13a, and 13b respectively, and described below. This information was compiled as a joint initiative by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), Regional Municipality of Niagara, and the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority. Table 2: Natural Heritage Resources Natural Heritage Current Resource % Guideline (minimum) % Upland Forests 20 30 Wetlands 16 10 Riparian Habitat 64 75 50

LAKE ERIE NORTH SHORE WATERSHED PLAN Carolinian Canada Signature Site As part of the Carolinian Canada Coalition‟s early workings, inventories of all the remaining natural areas in the Carolinian Life Zone were reviewed by a subcommittee of scientists and stakeholders. As a result, 38 key sites were identified as being critically important; these sites are the best representatives of a particular community and ecosystem type in the Carolinian Life Zone that were at the time of survey (1984) unprotected (Johnson 2005). The Point Abino Peninsula Sandland Forest, located in Fort Erie, has been identified as one of the 38 key sites in the Carolinian Life Zone. This unique natural heritage site has portions that remain virtually untouched and is the “largest expanse of naturally forested sandland hills, wetland basins, and undisturbed shoreline along the north coast of Lake Erie” (Johnson 2005). This site is also a Life Science ANSI, a provincially significant wetland and contains old growth forest. Life Science and Earth Science Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest An Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI) “is an area of land and water containing natural landscapes or features that have been identified as having life science or earth science values related to protection, scientific study or education” (MMAH 2005). The following natural areas are designated or candidate ANSIs in the Lake Erie North Shore watershed. Point Abino Peninsula Sandland Forest Life Science ANSI The provincially significant Point Abino Peninsula Sandland Forest is remarkably rich in its diversity and representation of the Lake Erie shoreline. The significance of this ANSI has been recognized by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Carolinian Canada of which it is a signature site, and numerous naturalists and nature clubs including the Bert Miller Nature Club. The 198 hectare privately owned ANSI comprises the most extensive and spectacular expanse of naturally forested sandland hills, wetland basins and undisturbed shorelines along the north coast of Lake Erie in this region (Macdonald 1990a). The peninsula extends 3 kilometres off the north shore of Lake Erie and is a tombolo which has developed as a sand bar between an offshore limestone shelf and the mainland, eventually maturing to become a well-developed peninsula with high sand ridges originating as a dune system, sand and limestone pavement beaches, eroding sandy shorecliffs with ridge crest and backslope features, and an extensive wetland basin (Macdonald 1990a). According to an inventory done in 1980 by Macdonald (Beechey & Eagles 1985), the vegetation communities consist of a mixture of sand ridge forests and backshore wetlands. For example, the southwesterly facing slopes and backshore fringes tend to support a dry forest of white pine, red oak and red maple. On the mesic slopes, communities of sugar maple, american beech and red oak tend to dominate, while the moist intraridge basin communities support conifer groves and deciduous forests of yellow birch and silver maple. The backshore Provincially Significant Wetland communities consist of, for example, swamp scrublands; subintermediate deciduous swamp forest; and successional wetland communities in the open areas that were once affected by cutting. 51

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