Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Huron Natural Area

Beaver Pond

Our city continues to expand quickly, with ugly subdivisions springing up in many places and acres of farmland being sold to developers. Lots are smaller, houses higher and architectural diversity is absent. Much talk goes on about rejuvenating the downtown and improving public transit as the suburbs demand the use of cars, but people continue to want a suburban lifestyle.

Yesterday, I walked along a river trail and when I drove home, I was shocked at the development that has occurred over the summer. Then I noticed a sign pointing to a new nature area that was advertising a grand opening that afternoon. This area is only 4 km from our home and is on the edge of an industrial park. I followed the signs and came upon The Huron Natural Area. What a pleasant surprise it was to find this 360 acre diverse natural area in the midst of new homes and industry.

Walkway across the pond and Strasburg Creek

The city partnered with the public and Catholic school boards and the University of Waterloo in the development of the site. So far there are about 4 km of groomed trails, some paved for wheelchair accessibility. There are other footpaths to walk that are not maintained and the area has meadow, wetlands, forests, a stream and large beaver pond to explore. Wooden walkways have been built over sensitive waterways and marsh areas. Yesterday there were guided tours, a raptor demonstration and a number of booths set up to show the diversity of plant, aquatic and animal life in the area.

White Pines on the left of the trail

A stand of White Pine was planted here many years ago. This non-native species is host to a number of diseases and other conservation areas are planning to remove the trees. The trail guide pointed out that while this stand remains healthy, we now know the dangers of planting one type of tree, especially a non-native species, when the ecological health of the forest depends on having a variety of vegetation. As an example, the beaver here have run out of their favoured softwoods and have been trying to take down much larger hardwood trees.

This afternoon, we took Dakota for his first longer walk in a while. We covered 2.4 kms on the trails and the dog is tired but happy. The city will continue to grow, but I am encouraged to see interest in the natural preservation of a large tract of land within the city limits.

(The last two pictures are taken by The Becka)

Addendum ~ I posted some pictures of this place on my Flickr page and a local contact, Snapshotmom, left this excellent comment. It does pay to be involved in the community.

"
I have worked on a committee at least 12 years ago at City Hall to save the area and attended an input workshop on the area last spring. We are so lucky to have this in our community. My only hope is that people will respect what has been given to them, to embrace as a place of interest and solitude. As an outdoor ed centre, many children will now have a place to learn about our environment and the need to protect what nature has to offer. I love that a great part of the pond area is wheelchair accessible for those that usually aren't able to reach these areas."

10 comments:

  1. What a great area and I love the colors that you captured!

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  2. whoops, that was me that hit enter before I wanted to!

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  3. Looks divine, Ruth. I would spend a lot of time there.

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  4. Ruth, I've missed so much. Scanning your posts about topics as diverse as sweet Dakota, precious Samuel, morning glories, the anniversary of your father-in-law's death - really, it is food for body, soul and spirit.

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  5. Ruth--I too am saddened by the rampant thoughtless development.
    How wonderful for you to have the nature preserve close by.
    U. of Waterloo, eh? That's where my one nephew attended college. He won a math scholarship (if I remember correctly) as a high school student in Manitoba, & picked Waterloo. He loved it, and is now at Penn State in a doctoral program.

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  6. This looks like a beautiful area and only about a 40 minute drive from where I live. I will be sure to keep this in mind for a Sunday afternoon outing. Thanks for promoting it.
    Mary

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  7. What a beautiful place Ruth. The photos are so lovely and made me smile this Monday morning. Have a great day!

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  8. Hi Ruth,
    I'm glad some people had the foresight to establish this beautiful natural area! And you have found another place for treating us to more of your wonderful pictures!

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  9. All credit to the city because that's a pretty sizeable tract of land. I'm sure the pooch thinks it's just grand.

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  10. Monarch- Your fall colours are spectacular too (hint to those who haven't visited his blog)

    Mary- It is a very peaceful place to spend time. There is even a Quiet Zone if you need some solitude.

    Cathy- Life is good and I am grateful for the many things I enjoy and can share with others.

    KGMom- My one daughter is also a U of W graduate. It has an excellent reputation as a university. There does seem to be so much thoughtless urban expansion and I wonder how it will end.

    Mary- There are many interesting places to explore around here. Looking forward to reading more about your area of Ontario.

    Jayne- I hope you are experiencing fall too. You are receiving many of our birds. Take good care of them and send them back in the spring!

    Ruthie- Thanks. It is hard to take a bad picture at a place like this.

    AC- Ottawa has lovely green areas too. And a river that makes the Grand look like a trickle! I think it is one of the nicest cities I have visited.

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