We ask all Members to observe EMPCA’s requirements and restrictions when enjoying the McLean Reserve and the Cottager’s Lot
MCLEAN RESERVE TRAIL MAP
MANAGED FOREST TAX INCENTIVE PROGRAM (MFTIP)
The 62 acre McLean Reserve, is stewarded by the Roads and Conservation Committee in accordance with The Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program (MFTIP). The MFTIP is a voluntary program available to landowners who own four hectares or more of forest land, and who agree to prepare and follow a Managed Forest Plan for their property.
Under the MFTIP, participating landowners have their property reassessed and classified as Managed Forest and taxed at a 75 percent reduction of the municipal tax rate set for residential properties.
To participate in the MFTIP, landowners must agree to certain conditions including preparing and following a managed forest plan for their forest. The plan must be approved by an individual certified by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) as a Managed Forest Plan Approver.
Participation in the MFTIP improves the owner’s knowledge of the forest and increases the owner’s involvement in managing the forest. In turn, this helps to encourage the stewardship of Ontario’s private forests.
Some of the Roads and Conservation Committee’s responsibilities under the MFTIP are: trail maintenance and improvement, invasive plant control, oversight of the removal of diseased trees, occasional thinning and culling to promote a forest composed of mixed stage of growth. The R & C Committee also organizes educational events/nature walks to raise community awareness and understanding of the various features in the McLean Reserve, its ecosystems, flora and fauna.
FOREST, MEADOWS AND WETLANDS
The McLean Reserve is a natural “common” that provides immeasurable benefit and value to the peace and enjoyment of all the Association members. It has been maintained for nearly 60 years as a natural buffer against an increasingly urbanized surrounding area and is home to a rich variety of amphibian, reptilian, avian and mammalian wildlife. A walking trail system runs nearly the entire north-south length of the Point through interesting and diverse terrain.
The reserve is made up of three distinct compartments;
– Forest/Mixed Upland Hardwoods,
– Wooded Wetland/Swamp.
Each compartment has its own unique features, ecosystem and range of flora & fauna. In a single day families can experience the delights of catching a frog or finding tadpoles in the wetland; they can hike the forest nature trails or walk the mown pathways that meander through the meadows where countless birds, butterflies and dragonflies can be seen and foxes and deer occasionally glimpsed.
Even though the McLean Reserve is a “natural common”, certain management practices have been followed according to the Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program. These practices, briefly listed below, are in place to enhance our community’s enjoyment of the reserve while promoting a healthy forest and protecting the habitats of our resident wildlife.
MIXED UPLAND HARDWOODS
Trilliums in McLean Reserve
The Mixed Hardwood Forest represents about 70% of the 62 acre McLeanReserve. Periodic culling of poor quality, diseased or hazardous trees will be an ongoing process. Den trees, windfalls and slash will be left for wildlife habitat and to restore the soil. Nature trails are maintained as single-file pathways for walking while minimizing human impact on flora & fauna. Trails are regularly inspected for, and cleared of poison ivy. The forest area is also monitored for trash and yard waste that may introduce invasive plants.
Projects to remove established invasive plants and trees such as periwinkle, garlic mustard and buckthorn are underway. Volunteers from the community are welcome to assist and are encouraged to check the “Events” column for upcoming spring, summer and fall sessions.
Closely mown meadow pathways
The Meadowlands represent less than 10% of the McLean Reserve.Succession (the gradual encroachment of shrubs and trees into open fields) has significantly reduced the amount of meadowland over the past 60+ years. Tree plantings in the 1960s, done to benefit from an earlier tax incentive program, also diminished the meadows.While some would prefer that the open fields be left to return to forest, many others wish to have the small remaining amount of meadow preserved.
For the past few years, maintenance activities for this compartment include one annual rough mowing of the entire meadowlands in mid-July. The timing of the cut ensures at least one nesting of native grassland birds and minimizes disturbance to other fauna including important native insect populations.
This cut is sufficient to maintain the quality open space zones (prevent the encroachment of trees and shrubs) for their aesthetic qualities, vistas and habitat diversity.In addition to the rough mowing and in order to allow for much easier walking through the grasses from spring to fall, a network of regularly mown trails that traverse the meadows was instituted in 2006.
The two Wetland areas together represent about 20% of the McLean Reserve.Although the maintenance of this compartment is presently minimal, the long term objectives are to manage the wetlands as special, important natural features in the overall ecosystem and to develop a greater awareness and appreciation for wetlands through newsletters, speakers/guided tours.
Wetlands are one of the most undervalued ecosystems and yet they provide a range of vital services. They soak up rainfall, filter water, provide a unique habitat for many different species and are an important refuge for migrating birds.
Wetlands are the most biologically diverse ecosystems on earth.
For these reasons it is very important that the Eight Mile Point community values and respects this significant component of the McLean Reserve.
Please refrain from depositing yard waste, construction waste or anything in the wetlands.
EIGHT MILE POINT FLORA AND FAUNA
During 2011 and 2012 I have recorded the plant and animal species that I have observed on Eight Mile Point. I have also included some reasonable sightings by others. Attached are a number of species lists which I hope will assist everyone in enjoying the local natural world. The lists, however, are by no means complete. Many of you will see the lists and say to your selves that you have seen species that have not been listed. I would agree, for example, birds such as the Ruffed Grouse and Wood Duck were often seen in the centre lot in the past but no longer seem to inhabit the Point. As ecosystem succession occurs, the flora and fauna present will change over time. Other factors such as increased human activity and the establishment of alien invasive species such as European Buckthorn, a species recently established on the Point can also change the plants and wildlife that will be found, favouring some species and not others. Change is constant.
The lists will only remain valid for 5-10 years and will need to be completely updated to remain current. In the interim, if anyone sees any species that is not on the list please send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with a photo if possible to confirm and I will include it on future updates. If anyone wants help identifying a species please contact me.
I will update the lists annually to include any new observations of which I am sure there will be many.
The generally accepted common and scientific names of all plant and animal species are used throughout the following tables. All vegetation naming is from Flora Ontario (Newmaster, S.G. and S. Ragupathy 2012). Avian naming is from the 2011 American Ornithological Union (AOU)
CHECK-LIST OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS, 7TH EDITION AND ITS SUPPLEMENTS (52nd). Mammal naming is from Dobbyn, “Atlas of the Mammals of Ontario” (1994). Herpetofaunal naming is from Oldham, M.J. and W.F. Weller, (2000) “Ontario Herpetofaunal Atlas”. Dragonfly naming is from the Ontario Odonata Atlas, (2005). Butterfly naming is from in the NHIC species lists.
To assist you with learning more about the plants and animals of the Point I have attached a reference list of some of the guides I use and trust. These publications are available at the public library, on line, and at good book stores such as the Nature Store in Orillia.
The plant kingdom is diverse and the species are numerous. There is no one field guide that will meet all your needs. The following are some that you might consider.
“A Field Guide to Wildflowers of Northeastern and North-central North America” by R. T. Peterson and M. McKenny.
“A Guide to the Ferns of Grey and Bruce Counties, Ontario” by The Bruce-Grey Plant Committee, 2002.
I hope you enjoy.
Poison ivy is a native plant in Ontario and a persistent, ubiquitous resident in the McLean Reserve. It grows deep in the woods, out in the meadow, in dry as well as moist locations and is a food source for birds and animals. The Roads & Conservation Committee endeavors to control this plant in the vicinity of trails and to provide warning signage where the patches are large. However, since it is simply impossible to eradicate poison ivy from the entire 62 acre reserve, the importance of staying on the trails and learning to recognize this plant cannot be overemphasized.
A close encounter can lead to serious medical conditions. For more information check www.hikeontario.com/bulletin/factsheets/fact18.htm
INVASIVE SPECIES; PLANTS AND INSECTS
Invasive plants, in this context, are aggressive non-native plants.
They have the potential to disrupt the balance in an ecosystem, displace native species – both flora and fauna – and biodiversity can be drastically reduced. There are about 500 invasive plants in Canada, most of which are in Southern Ontario.
The cost associated with this problem is huge: $2.2 billon annually to Canadian farmers which is eventually passed along to consumers. While it is more difficult to measure the cost to the environment, the impact of the resulting loss of biodiversity in combination with the effects of climate change could be devastating particularly to food security.
How Do Invasive Plants Affect Eight Mile Point?
The McLean Reserve presently plays host to at least 10 varieties of invasive plants. Of these, the most predominant are buckthorn, garlic mustard, goutweed and periwinkle. As mentioned before, their biggest impact will be loss of biodiversity. These plants dominate and outcompete native plants and wildflowers. Even native trees and shrubs can be adversely affected.
As participants in the Managed Forest Tax Incentive Plan we are required to take appropriate steps to control invasive non-native plant species to promote forest health and biodiversity. See below for more details on the impact of Garlic Mustard and Buckthorn.
It is not too late; there are still many unaffected areas. If there is the will to do so, we can take the steps to protect the vistas, the native plants and trees as we know them today.
McLean Reserve’s Highest Priority Invasive Plants
1. Garlic Mustard, a non-native herb brought to North America by early colonists, is now spreading across the continent at a rate of 6,400 square kilometres per year – that’s an area 10 times the size of Toronto. Left unchecked, a patch can double every 4 years. There is evidence indicating that garlic mustard changes a forest’s composition over time, creating a more favourable environment for itself, driving other species out of the understory and even changing the tree composition.
Despite valiant, manual control efforts by Eight Mile Point volunteers and students over the past few years, this species is rapidly expanding in the McLean Reserve.
Burning was recommended and tested on a patch in 2011. It turned out to be too labour intensive and had to be halted when poison ivy was encountered. Further attempts to enlist volunteers over the last 3 years have failed to generate enough help to make a significant difference.
Without sufficient manpower there are only two options:
1) do nothing and watch the McLean Reserve deteriorate faster with each passing year until all areas are affected and the situation is irreversible, or
2) call in experienced professionals to bring the Garlic Mustard under control with the use of the herbicide Roundup.
The use of Roundup to control Garlic Mustard is recommended under specific circumstances by the Nature Conservancy of Canada in their 2007 report Control Methods for the Invasive Plant Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) within Ontario Natural Areas.
This report evaluated the efficacy of various methods of Garlic Mustard control. Their conclusion for forested properties with a rich diversity of native species, which describes the McLean Reserve, follows:
Roundup® application is widely regarded by conservation professionals as the most effective and efficient control, and is recommended where: Garlic Mustard populations are dense and extensive, evergreen native species are sparse, non evergreen native species are dense, basal rosettes are not smothered by leaf litter, and a labour force is more constrained in availability.
Also from this report: Glyphosate (Roundup) is widely considered the most appropriate herbicide for use on conservation lands. It has very low acute toxicity to mammals and birds and is inactivated once in contact with soil. It rarely reaches the water table or causes other known lasting negative environmental effects. The readily available form of Glyphosate, Roundup®, is only intended for terrestrial use.
A walk-through assessment of the McLean Reserve was conducted in October 2014 by Urban Forestry Associates (UFORA); experts in the arena of invasive plant control. UFORA was selected from three possible companies that employ licensed pesticide applicators.
Quotes for the work were provided by each company and UFORA came out well ahead on price and in expertise.
UFORA estimated the area of the sum of all the scattered garlic mustard patches in the Reserve to be about 1.5 acres; approximately the size of 3 Cottagers Lots. UFORA staff, if employed, would spot treat the emerging Garlic Mustard with herbicide in late April when other native plants are still dormant and unaffected by the Round-up. Four employees would work for two days to cover the entire reserve, targeting only invasive species with herbicide. Wetland areas will be excluded.
It is imperative that garlic mustard be controlled as soon as possible.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada/EMPCA – recommended approach is now our best bet to minimize damage to the reserve and the expense to the community.
McLean Reserve’s Highest Priority Invasive Plants
2. Common Buckthorn was introduced to North America in the 1880s as an ornamental shrub and was widely planted for fencerows and windbreaks in agricultural fields. Since then it has spread aggressively throughout southern Ontario and in other provinces. It thrives in a variety of habitats and forms dense thickets that crowd and shade out native plants. Buckthorn can spread widely with the help of birds and animals that eat its fruit, carry the seeds long distances and deposit them in their droppings. Stands of buckthorn can invade roadsides, riverbanks, mature forests and farm fields. Buckthorn can alter nitrogen levels in the soil, creating better conditions that ensure its own success while discouraging the growth of native understory species and reducing biodiversity in a habitat. The thorns can be harmful to humans or animals that come into contact with it. Manual removal efforts in the McLean Reserve have been moderately successful but more volunteer help is required in mid to late October to help bring this species under control.
Other Invasive Plants, Trees and Shrubs Presently in the Mclean Reserve
Japanese Barberry (associated with the Black Legged Tick; carrier of Lyme Disease), Norway Maple, Winged Euonymus, Lily of the Valley, Periwinkle, Ajuga, English Ivy, Goutweed (variegated and non-varieg.), Miscanthus grass, Chinese Lantern, Daylily, Honeysuckle Shrub, Weeping Willow and White Mulberry. All of these have been either intentionally planted, spread by birds or introduced via discarded yard waste. Please try to avoid these plants when planning your garden.
What You Can Do To Prevent the Introduction of More Invasive Plants
1. Plant native species; they are important & essential food for native insects upon which most birds rely to feed their young.
2. Not all non-native plants are invasive. Try to avoid invasive non-native plants like easy groundcovers (periwinkle & goutweed) and others already invading the McLean Reserve as listed above.
3. Google the “Grow Me Instead Guide” for alternatives to invasive but popular garden plants.
4. Never place yard waste in the McLean Reserve; this can introduce non-native invasive plants and seeds.
5. Stay on Nature Trails and mown pathways. Venturing off the trails can accidentally spread invasive plant seed into previously unaffected areas and Poison Ivy may be encountered.
6. Monitor your own property for Garlic Mustard. If you require help identifying it, contact the EMPCA Roads and Conservation Committee.
7. Volunteer to help at an EMPCA Invasive Species Control event. It’s a great way to learn not just about invasive plants but also our beautiful native wildflowers.