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

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

Eighteen

Eighteen Mile Creek Restoration Strategy The Eighteen Mile Creek watershed is relatively small in comparison to the Fifteen and Sixteen Mile Creek watersheds. However, riparian, wetland and upland restoration opportunities abound in this small watershed. For example, like the Fifteen and Sixteen Mile Creek watersheds, numerous agricultural areas are without riparian buffers, with the greatest need for riparian cover located above the Niagara Escarpment (NPCA 2006b). Wetland suitability is also highest above the Niagara Escarpment, although the extent of wetland suitability is not as great in comparison to the other two watersheds. Several areas of upland restoration suitability exist in this watershed with ample suitable areas above and below the Niagara Escarpment, which is especially important for creating ecological linkages between existing natural areas for the movement of wildlife and to enhance habitat diversity. Opportunities for ecological restoration and enhancement are abundant in the Eighteen Mile Creek watershed provided public and private partnerships can be established in the watershed. Maintaining and enhancing the integrity of the Carolinian forest community is also a priority in this watershed. The Eighteen Mile Creek Watershed Restoration Strategy identifies three zones with specific stewardship and restoration recommendations (Table 9). 1) Eighteen Mile Creek below the Niagara Escarpment: The streams in the lower portion of the watershed do not have adequate riparian buffers. Most of the streams in this portion of the watershed flow through agricultural fields. Riparian buffers will enhance water quality by reducing the amount of sediment and agricultural runoff entering Eighteen Mile Creek and its tributaries. Wetland suitability is not high in this portion of the Eighteen Mile Creek watershed. However, wetland enhancement and creation is suitable near the mouth of the Eighteen Mile Creek pond where the QEW crosses over the pond. All wetland areas in this portion of the watershed would benefit from ecological enhancement and protection because this area has been delineated as a potential groundwater discharge area (Figure 13). Upland restoration is most suitable north of Fourth Avenue in this portion of the watershed. Given the predominately rural/agricultural nature of this watershed, reforestation should focus on retired agricultural lands. 2) Eighteen Mile Creek - Niagara Escarpment Corridor: Given the high forest cover on the Niagara Escarpment, riparian cover in this section of the Eighteen Mile Creek watershed is well established. Wetland suitability is low due to the physiography and topography of the Niagara Escarpment. Upland suitability is high for the escarpment portion of the watershed, and it is especially important to establish a diversity of habitat, larger contiguous forested areas for the movement of wildlife, and to enhance ecological corridors along the Niagara Escarpment. 3) Eighteen Mile Creek above the Niagara Escarpment (remainder of the watershed): The Eighteen Mile Creek watershed above the Niagara Escarpment contains many areas with high to moderate suitability for riparian restoration. Many of the stream courses without riparian buffers traverse agricultural fields including pasture land. In its Fifteen-Sixteen-Eighteen Mile Creeks Watershed Geomorphic Assessment (NPCA 2006b), the NPCA reported that farm level crossings are in very poor condition in this portion of the watershed, and vegetative buffers in rural areas are lacking, which is contributing to erosion, sedimentation and poor water quality. As a result, priority should be placed on riparian restoration in this section of the watershed to improve stream morphology and improve water quality through the reduction of sediment entering the stream. High to moderate restoration suitability is also found throughout this portion of the Eighteen Mile Creek watershed for wetland and upland restoration. However, given the results of the Geomorphic Assessment (NPCA 2006b) for this watershed, attention should first be placed on riparian creation to improve water quality. 58

Table 9: Eighteen Mile Creek Watershed Restoration Actions RESTORATION OPPORTUNITIES BELOW THE NIAGARA ESCARPMENT Many sections of the main branch of Eighteen Mile Creek and its tributaries run through agricultural lands with little or no buffers; riparian buffers will help to reduce sediment and cool the water to enhance water quality and fish habitat along the length of the watercourse before discharging to Lake Ontario RECOMMENDED RESTORATION STRATEGIES RIPARIAN WETLAND UPLAND AND ECOLOGICAL LINKAGES Enhancement of the wetland near the QEW An area of wetland suitability exists south of Honsberger Avenue that is currently under cultivation Highly suitable upland restoration areas north of Fourth Avenue Create an ecological corridor from Niagara Escarpment to the outlet of Eighteen Mile Creek at Lake Ontario Carolinian and native species should be used in all restoration projects NIAGARA ESCARPMENT CORRIDOR Riparian habitat is well established in this section of the watershed; focus should be on maintenance and enhancement of existing riparian habitat Wetland suitability is low due to topography and physiography in this section of the watershed High suitability for upland restoration adjacent to natural heritage areas; focus should be on increasing core natural heritage areas and ecological linkages along the Niagara Escarpment with adjacent watersheds Carolinian and native species should be used in restoration projects ABOVE THE NIAGARA ESCARPMENT – REMAINDER OF THE WATERSHED High to moderate suitability for riparian restoration in this portion of the watershed Many sections of stream running through agricultural lands with little or no buffer; riparian buffers will help to reduce sediment and cool the water to enhance water quality and fish habitat Enhance existing wetlands as natural flood storage reservoirs and groundwater recharge areas Create new wetlands in areas where the wetness index and soil drainage permit; priority should be given to areas where wetlands already exist or adjacent to forested areas to create larger contiguous habitat areas (e.g., high suitability south of Ninth Avenue near existing woodlots as well as west of Twenty-first Street) High suitability for upland restoration scattered throughout this portion of the watershed adjacent to existing natural heritage areas Focus should be on creating larger contiguous forested areas, and along the tributaries of Eighteen Mile Creek to buffer the creek and create ecological corridors Given the lack of riparian buffers in this portion of the watershed, attention should be given to suitable areas with watercourses flowing through them Carolinian and native species should be used in all restoration projects 59

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