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15-16-18 Mile Creek - Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority

15-16-18 Mile Creek - Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority

Figure 7: land use

Figure 7: land use 14

Natural Heritage Resources The percentage of upland forest cover, wetlands, and riparian habitat in the Fifteen-Sixteen-Eighteen Mile Creeks watershed are recorded in Table 1. These figures will be assessed based on the targets set by Environment Canada (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 and Environmentally Sensitive/Significant Areas are illustrated on Figures 8 and 9 respectively, and described below. This information was complied as a joint initiative by the Ministry of Natural Resources, Regional Municipality of Niagara and the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority. Currently the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority is undergoing a Natural Heritage Areas Inventory and the following information will be updated to reflect the projects findings. Fifteen and Sixteen Mile Creek Valleys ANSI The Fifteen and Sixteen Mile Creek valleys have been identified as an Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI) due to the excellent representation of Niagara Escarpment features and associated lake plain features found in this area. The Fifteen and Sixteen Mile Creek Valleys ANSI are located primarily in the Town of Lincoln, with the north eastern section of the Fifteen Mile Creek valley located in the City of St. Catharines. Measuring 343 hectares, this horseshoe shaped site features the following natural heritage features: • Open water riverine, open water, submerged and floating aquatics, shallow emergent marshes, several meadow marshes, and broadleaf swamps of Red Maple, Red Maple- Red Oak, and White Elm representing 1.7 percent of the ANSI; • Terrestrial forests including many stands in an old-growth state, and a few thickets that comprise 77.5 percent of the ANSI; • Primary communities including broadleaf forests of Sugar Maple and drier forests of Red Oak make up 12.9 percent of the ANSI; and • Anthropogenic communities such as regenerating fields, old orchards, trails and paths represent 7.8 percent of the ANSI (Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources 1992). The Fifteen and Sixteen Mile Creek Valleys ANSI have been subdivided into 5 areas based on physiographic features (Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources 1992). The Fifteen Mile Creek Lake Plain Valley consists of the Fifteen Mile Creek valley north of the Niagara Escarpment. This portion of the ANSI contains an excellent representation of tableland, valley slope and bottomland vegetation communities on the lake plain. This area also contains most of the ANSI’s wetland communities including the nationally rare Pin Oak - Red Oak - Red Maple swamp. The Fifteen Mile Creek Escarpment Incised Valleys contain the Niagara Escarpment and escarpment related vegetation communities of the Fifteen Mile Creek valley including the adjacent incised escarpment valley of a tributary located east of Fifteen Mile Creek. The Fifteen Mile Creek valley is one of 12 major incised valleys on the Niagara Peninsula, and it contains excellent representations of an incised valley slope, talus, as well as bottomland and escarpment cliff face communities. This section of the ANSI also contains Rockway Falls. The Niagara Escarpment Connector is characterized by three kilometres of Niagara Escarpment rim, plain and talus communities on rock substrates and deeper soils. This section of the ANSI acts as a natural corridor between Fifteen Mile and Sixteen Mile Creek valleys. The Sixteen Mile Creek Escarpment Incised Valley is characterized by escarpment plain, rim, slope and terrace communities. The complex of escarpment features found in this section of the ANSI extends north from the main escarpment and consists of broad terraces and talus slopes. This site is unique because few other areas on the Niagara Peninsula support such a high diversity of escarpment features such as extensive terraces, which are some of the largest on the peninsula. Like the Fifteen Mile Creek incised valley, the Sixteen Mile Creek valley is also one of 12 major incised valleys on the peninsula. The Sixteen Mile Creek Lake Plain Valley system dissects the lake plain north of the escarpment. It is characterized by an extensive bottomland and valley slopes of a successional nature, which ranges from regenerating field to young forest. In addition, several more mature broadleaf stands are also found in this portion of the ANSI, particularly on the drier upper slopes. Approximately 96 percent of the ANSI falls within the Niagara Escarpment Plan area. A small portion of the ANSI, where the Fifteen Mile Creek valley extends north of Regional Road 81, extends beyond the Plan area. However, this portion of the ANSI falls within the Provincial Greenbelt Plan area. Significant Flora The flora of the Fifteen-Sixteen Mile Creek Valleys ANSI is representative of the deciduous forest region commonly referred to as the Carolinian life zone. The Carolinian life zone stretches across southwestern Ontario and extends south into the United States (Figure 10). Nearly one-third of Canada’s TABLE 1: NATURAL AREAS BY LAND MANAGEMENT UNIT (%) (DERIVED FROM NWQPS, 2003) Table 1: natural heritage resources NATURAL HERITAGE RESOURCE CURRENT % GUIDELINE (MINIMUM) UPLAND FORESTS 17.5 30 WETLANDS 3 10 RIPARIAN HABITAT 31 75 15

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