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

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

Other Natural Heritage

Other Natural Heritage Resource Sites Boye’s Woodlot contains 2 woodlots; one large lot and a much smaller one. The larger woodlot is drained by a tributary of Fifteen Mile Creek, and the smaller lot acts as a catchment basin for the surrounding farmland. The total size of Boye’s Woodlot is 81 hectares. The dominant vegetation throughout this site includes Eastern Hemlock, White Birch, Sugar Maple and American Beech. Other vegetation found in the woodlot are White Pine, White Oak, Swamp White Oak, Bur Oak, Yellow Birch, Red Maple, Rock Elm, Slippery Elm, Black Cherry, Choke Cherry, Red Ash, White Ash, Pignut Hickory, Bitternut Hickory, Sassafras and Basswood. The woodlot is significant because it serves as a recharge area for Fifteen Mile Creek (Brady 1980). Frost Bush is a 70 hectare site containing a wetland that is drained by a tributary of Sixteen Mile Creek. The dominant vegetation association in Frost Bush are Sugar Maple, American Beech, and White Ash. Other species include Silver Maple, Red Maple, Shagbark Hickory, White Elm, Hop-hornbeam, Swamp White Oak and Black Oak. This area of the watershed is considered hydrologically important in the watershed because Frost Bush acts as a flow regulator for a tributary of Sixteen Mile Creek (Brady 1980). Myer’s Bush is a small bush (5 hectares) crossed by an intermittent stream draining north into Lake Ontario. The dominant species at this site include Red Ash, White Oak, and Shagbark Hickory. Less abundant canopy species found here are Bitternut Hickory, Butternut, Slippery Elm, Red Maple, Black Maple, Basswood, Red Oak, Swamp White Oak, Yellow Birch and Hop-hornbeam (Brady 1980). almost completely occupied by an open, shallow pond. Fifteen Mile Creek has a small valley mouth pond, which transitions into alluvial plain marshes and scrubland features with a series of levees and moderately developed meander patterns. Vegetation patterns in the valleys include submergent and emergent aquatic meadows, marshes of Typha/Calamagrostis/ Polygonum/Salix/Cornus, levee groves and thickets of Salix, as well as valley bottom seepage and swamp forests of Ulmus/ Frxinus/Salix. The pond slope forests are generally dry mesic, sandy loam Quercus/Acer/Pinus complex with Acer/ Fraxinus/Fagus patterns occurring on the narrower valleys (MNR no date). Above the Escarpment the Fifteen Mile Creek Wetland measures approximately 53.5 hectares. This provincially significant wetland is comprised of 20 individual wetlands of 2 types: 62 percent swamp and 38 percent marsh. Kwicinski and Littleton (1989) have recorded an abundance of vegetation communities at this site including, for example, floating plants, submergent plants, deciduous trees, grasses, sedges, mixed herbs, as well as many others. The Fifteen Mile Creek Headwaters Wetland is a provincially significant wetland complex, made up of 33 individual wetlands consisting of 94.2 percent swamp and 5.8 percent marsh. Numerous wetland plant communities have been identified at this 0.2 hectare site by Kwicinski and Thomas (1987). For example, emergents such as cattails and grasses; tall shrubs including meadowsweet, buttonbush, winterberry, and blueberry; ferns; free floating plants such duckweed; and deciduous trees including willow, white oak and red maple are found at this wetland complex. Wetlands The Provincial Wetland Classification system designates wetlands as “provincially significant” or “other” (not provincially significant). The Ministry of Natural Resources mapped wetland areas in the Fifteen-Sixteen-Eighteen Mile Creek watershed as provincially significant and locally significant evaluated wetlands. Approximately 524 hectares of the 11 731 hectares of land area in the Fifteen-Sixteen-Eighteen Mile Creek watershed is classed as wetlands. One of the provincially significant evaluated wetlands in the watershed is located below the Niagara Escarpment where the Fifteen and Sixteen Mile Creeks outlet to Lake Ontario. Two other wetlands are located above the Niagara Escarpment on Fifteen Mile Creek. One of these wetlands forms the headwaters o f F i f t e e n M i l e C r e e k . A d e s c r i p t i o n o f e a c h o f t h e s e a r e a s f o l l o w s . The Fifteen Mile Creek Marshes are a Life Science ANSI comprised of a series of drowned, steep-sided meander valleys on the Lake Ontario Plain. The total site including forested valley sides measures 1200 hectares, which also includes the wetland areas. The marshes are contained between Fifteen Mile Creek and Sixteen Mile Creek. At this location, Sixteen Mile Creek is 20

Eighteen Mile Creek The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) conducted a fish survey on Eighteen Mile Creek below the Niagara Escarpment at the QEW in 1996. The sampling procedure for the 1996 study involved electrofishing, and 2 species were identified; white sucker and gizzard shad, both of which have also been recorded in Fifteen and Sixteen Mile Creeks. In 2006, the NPCA sampled various locations below the Niagara Escarpment on Eighteen Mile Creek using a seine net. Several attempts were made to carry out sampling above the escarpment. However, for the most part, the creek was dry and sampling was not feasible. A total of 10 species were captured and identified below the escarpment. Significant Fish Species Aquatic Habitat Fish Community Studies Fifteen, Sixteen and Eighteen Mile Creeks have a diverse warm water fish community. Fish sampling studies conducted by various agencies reported 31 different species in the Fifteen- Sixteen-Eighteen Mile Creeks watershed above and below the Niagara Escarpment. Fish migration is likely from Lake Ontario to the Niagara Escarpment, and the embayments at Lake Ontario may be used for spawning by white sucker and lake chub (NWQPS 2003). However, the Niagara Escarpment acts as a natural barrier to fish movement in the watershed. Fifteen Mile Creek The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) conducted a fish survey on Fifteen Mile Creek below the Niagara Escarpment in 2005. The sampling procedure for the 2005 study involved electrofishing for a total of 300 metres upstream of the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) along the west bank. A second site was also sampled using electrofishing technology for a total of 300 metres from the mouth of the creek at Charles Daley Park. A total of 19 species were recorded in the lower portion of the creek during this survey. In 2006, the NPCA sampled various locations above and below the Niagara Escarpment on Fifteen Mile Creek using a seine net. A total of 14 species were recorded above the escarpment and 10 were captured and identified below the escarpment. The species found during the 2005 and 2006 samples are recorded in Table 3. Sixteen Mile Creek The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) also conducted a fish survey on Sixteen Mile Creek below the Niagara Escarpment at the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) in 2005. The sampling procedure for the 2005 study involved electrofishing. A total of 15 species were recorded in the lower portion of the creek during this survey. In 2006, the NPCA sampled various locations above and below the Niagara Escarpment on Sixteen Mile Creek using a seine net. A total of 12 species were recorded above the escarpment and 8 were captured and identified below the escarpment. The species found during the 2005 and 2006 samples are recorded in Table 3. None of the fish species currently identified in the Fifteen- Sixteen-Eighteen Mile Creeks watershed are considered “at risk”. This means that none of the species are at risk of extinction, extirpation or endangerment in Ontario (MNR No Date). However, fish habitat must still be maintained for the fish present in the system. Fish habitat is classified based on MNR (2000) protocol as identified below. The fish species found in 1996, 2005 and 2006 are representative of an intermediately tolerant fish community. Fish Habitat Fish habitat falls into 1 of 3 categories in Niagara: Type 1, Type 2 or Type 3 (MNR 2000). Habitat type is based on the sensitivity and significance of current or potential habitats in a water body. Type 1 habitat is the most sensitive habitat of the 3 types. As a result, it requires the highest level of protection. Examples of Type 1 habitat include critical spawning and rearing areas, migration routes, over-wintering areas, productive feeding areas and habitats occupied by sensitive species. Type 2 habitat is less sensitive and requires a moderate level of protection. These areas are considered “ideal for enhancement or restoration projects” and include feeding areas for adult fish and unspecialized spawning habitat. The third habitat type is considered marginal or highly degraded and does not contribute directly to fish productivity. Examples of Type 3 habitat include channelized streams and artificially created watercourses (MNR 2000). Fish habitat type in the Fifteen-Sixteen-Eighteen Mile Creeks watershed has been delineated according to the Ministry of Natural Resources stream classification data. These areas are depicted on Figure 11 as critical habitat (Type 1), important habitat (Type 2) and marginal habitat (Type 3). As illustrated, Fifteen Mile Creek and Sixteen Mile Creek and many of their tributaries have been classed primarily as critical fish habitat, and Eighteen Mile Creek has been classed as important fish habitat. Municipal Drains Under the Ontario Drainage Act (R.S.O. 1990, Chapter D.17) drainage works “include a drain constructed by any means, including the improving of a natural watercourse, and includes works necessary to regulate the water table or water level within 21

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