Thursday, October 22, 2015

Windsor Designates a New Natural Area in Twin Oaks Industrial Complex

Blog readers may remember the Western Kingbird that showed up in Windsor a few years ago. It was found in an area that has a small amount of natural area in central Windsor. It is a mix of railway corridor habitat, power transformers, and drainage basin & tributaries to Little River.

It was city-owned land that never got developed and was zoned for parkland. Now it seems it is officially going to be designated natural parkland. 

My wife works in this area, and a co-worker who is a naturalist swears by the productivity of this small natural area. Just in butterflies alone - it is a great spot. Back when I was visiting the area to see the Kingbird, I swear I saw a Mink --- a great mammal species for central Windsor!

Essex County only has 5% natural coverage due to intense agricultural, industrial and residential development so any designated natural area is a great thing.

See the article below for more details. -DM

The view of the Little River corridor, looking south from Twin Oaks. (Jason Kryk/The Windsor Star)
In the middle of the Twin Oaks Business Park, between E.C Row Expressway and the CP rail tracks, lies a park of a different kind.

An asphalt path perfect for a short bike ride or walking your dog winds through a landscape of Kentucky Coffee trees and red cedars. On a lower elevation flows the Little River, its lush, green banks home to songbirds, butterflies and endangered species like the Eastern fox snake.

The land, like the industrial properties around it, is owned by the city. Now, says a subcommittee of city council, it’s time to give the place a name and add it to the roster of municipal parks.

“It’s a naturalist’s dream,” enthused Tom Henderson, vice-chairman of the Little River Enhancement Group, making a presentation Wednesday to city’s council’s standing committee on the environment, transportation and public safety. Henderson easily sold councillors Hilary Payne, Paul Borrelli, Fred Francis and Chris Holt on the idea of making the area the city’s 210th municipal park.

The committee’s recommendation will now go to the full city council for approval.

Henderson showed photos of what the area looked like in 1992 when the city purchased the Twin Oaks golf course to develop an industrial park. The golf course had dredged the waterway, stripped its banks and built dams, turning Little River into retention ponds used to water greens.

The city and other area groups spent $188,000 in 1997 and 1998 to install the trail and restore the waterway, naturalizing its banks with native shrubs and trees. “It’s now a model for stream restoration pretty much everywhere in Ontario,” Henderson said.

The city cuts the grass and hauls away debris from illegal dumping, but otherwise, leaves the land alone. Henderson said his group will continue to conduct cleanups there to keep the park free of litter and will raise money to install benches. It wants nothing more from the city than to recognize it as a municipal park and give it a name.

Payne said the property is in his ward. It is designated as parkland in the city’s official plan, but it has never been recognized as such. He said he got the city to install barriers at the end of Munich Court to stop illegal dumping. Park designation could thwart vandals who ride all-terrain vehicles and motorbikes through the area, marring the pristine landscape with deep ruts. He said he fully endorses naming the area a city park.“It’s a no-cost item. It’s a no-brainer. It’s a jewel.”


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