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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 Empire Beach Backshore Forest Basin Life Science ANSI This provincially significant Area of Natural and Scientific Interest has also been designated as a Provincially Significant coastal Wetland. The shallow basin is a clay covered limestone plain resulting in a poorly drained area which is separated from Lake Erie‟s shoreline by a small sand dune complex which hampers drainage resulting in a low lying swampy area. According to Macdonald (1990b) the basin itself includes a series of parallel, low sand ridges which barely rise through the organic soils of the wetland. The vegetation represents a number of Lake Erie coastal communities, of particular importance according Macdonald (1990b), is the temperate element of the deciduous and mixed lowland forests of the swamp basin. They present intermediate to sub-mature growths of silver maple, black ash, yellow birch, eastern hemlock and red ash. In the wetland basin, deciduous swamps of silver maple, white elm and red ash dominate; the sand dune vegetation is dominated by upland deciduous forest of silver maple, american beach and northern red oak with a well developed shrub and herb flora understory; and the forested vegetation along northern and eastern peripheral areas are generally disturbed by drainage, clearing and cutting, although in the north-eastern section, the “forest cover appears to have succeeded from past selective cutting, resulting in a very eclectic, but notably rich, complement in all the strata (Macdonald 1990)”. Humberstone Muck Basin Swamp Forest Life Science ANSI The provincially significant Humberstone Muck Basin Swamp Forest straddles the subwatershed boundaries of Black Creek and Beaver Dam Creek; therefore only a portion of this unique natural heritage feature falls within the Lake Erie North Shore study area. The following description has been provided by Macdonald (1980): “The landform of this peat and muck filled basin adjacent to the Onondaga Escarpment is one of only three such occurrences in the Haldimand Clay Plain. The extent, degree of development, diversity and species richness of the community patterns, particularly those swamp forests and scrublands in the southern half, are rarely occurrant elsewhere in the region”. Vegetation communities include for example, a lowland deciduous forest which dominates the basin; deciduous swamp forests and scrubland. On the south-eastern fringe, the transition onto the Onondaga Escarpment rockland supports a forest dominated by red maple, bur and pin oak and shagbark hickory while the corresponding slope on the western side consists of deeper clay soils that support a younger successional mixture of forest patterns (Macdonald 1980). Humberstone Quarry (Port Colborne Quarry) Earth Science ANSI 54

LAKE ERIE NORTH SHORE WATERSHED PLAN The Humberstone Quarry has been designated as a provincially significant Area of Natural and Scientific Interest due to its excellent representation of the Bertie Formation. The bedrock in the quarry exhibits the contact between the Devonian (Bois Blanc Formation) and the Silurian (Bertie Formation) Palaeozoic periods. Present in the quarry, is an exposed sequence of Bertie dolostone and the presence of a major disconformity which can be traced throughout the Niagara Peninsula (MNR 1983). Onondaga Formation Earth Science ANSI-regional The Onondaga Formation is a regionally significant Area of Natural and Scientific Interest which belongs to the Devonian Period, Paleozoic Era. Two to three metres of bedrock outcrop is exposed in a flooded quarry west of Port Colborne. The outcrop pattern of the Clarence member is controlled by the occurrence of biothermal mounds in the Edgecliff member (Telford and Tarrant 1975). Bertie Formation III Earth Science ANSI-regional As previously described, the Bertie Formation belongs to the Silurian Period. This section is located in the Law Quarry west of Port Colborne. The Devonian Bois Blanc limestone overlies 43 feet of Silurian Bertie dolomite (MNR 1983). Wetlands The Ontario Wetland Evaluation System (OWES) is a science-based ranking system used by the Ministry of Natural Resources to assess wetland functions and societal values. Wetlands are evaluated and assigned a status as „provincially significant‟ or „locally significant‟. With the assistance of the NPCA‟s Natural Heritage Areas Inventory program, the Ministry of Natural Resources is currently revising the boundaries of existing wetlands and identifying new wetlands in the Lake Erie North Shore watershed. To date, over 75 percent of the wetlands have been designated as provincially significant, approximately 10 percent are designated as locally significant and the remaining 15 percent are awaiting evaluations. The following wetlands have been designated as Provincially Significant Wetlands (PSWs) in the Lake Erie North Shore watershed: The Moulton Wetland West provincially significant wetland complex straddles the subwatershed boundaries of Lowbanks Drain and Mill Race Creek. The wetland is comprised of 96.6 percent swamp and 3.4 percent marsh (Moraal and Smith 1984b). Numerous wetland vegetation communities have been identified by Moraal and Smith (1984b) including for example, robust emergents such as cattails; submerged plants such as coontail and pondweed; free-floating plants such as duckweed; and deciduous trees such as willow, maple and poplar. 55

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