Native Plant Public Meeting (May 27, 2008)

The Niagara Parks Commission Stewardship of the Niagara River Corridor Ecosystem


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The Niagara Parks Commission Stewardship of the Niagara River Corridor Ecosystem

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Established in 1885, The Niagara Parks Commission (NPC) is a Crown Agency of the Ontario Government. The core purpose of The Niagara Parks Commission is to preserve and enhance the natural beauty of the Falls and the Niagara River Corridor for the enjoyment of current and future visitors while maintaining financial independence.

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NPC is made up of over 600 individual properties spread out in a narrow band over 57 kilometers (~ 35 miles) along the Canadian side of the Niagara River. The total land area is 1720 hectares (~4250 acres) of which about 21.1% is considered as Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA).

o       The Niagara Gorge, about 11 kms(~6 miles) long, from the Falls north to the edge of the Niagara Escarpment, contains one of the largest numbers of Species at Risk (SAR) anywhere in Ontario and Canada. The Niagara Glen and Whirlpool area has the greatest biodiversity.

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o       Since September 2002 NPC’s Parks Dept. has received approx. $500,000 funding through grant proposals, primarily to Environment Canada’s “Habitat Stewardship Program” and “Great Lakes Sustainability Fund”, for projects targeting Species at Risk (SAR), flora & fauna inventories, habitat improvement, Invasive Alien Species (IAS) removal, trail improvements and other environmental initiatives. NPC has also partnered with more than twenty organizations including (but not restricted to) Parks Canada, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, Ontario Power Generation, Land Care Niagara, Niagara Restoration Council, Brock University, Niagara College, Ontario Nature, Peninsula Field Naturalists, Niagara Falls Nature Club and Bert Miller Nature Club of Fort Erie, all of which have contributed valuable InKind and some financial assistance. Niagara Parks has representation on several Species at Risk Recovery Teams including those for Red Mulberry, Deerberry, American WaterWillow, Dusky Salamander (2 species), Lake Chubsucker and Timber Rattlesnake (now extirpated in Canada).

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            The Niagara Glen

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It’s water, waterfalls and rapids…

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            …rocks, fossils and mosscovered boulders…

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            …plants, and how they adapt to new places…

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            …animals that make their homes here…

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…the people who come from around the world

o       To enjoy its beauty and mystery.

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It’s not supposed to be about…..

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            …senseless VANDALISM…

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            …illegal fire pits, fires and campsites…

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…garbage, litter, broken glass, human feces & sanitary items…

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…groups too large for the Glen…

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            …and inappropriate activities, among other things.

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o       Reconnaissance Survey of The Niagara Gorge Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (Image)

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            Since 2003 we have moved forward with:

o       trail marking

o       trail improvements

o       invasive alien species removal

o       flora/fauna inventories

o       Graffiti coverup…

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  • Species at Risk location
  • GPS and GIS
  • mapping
  • signage
  • new website (
  • and more
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            What’s next?

o       Our next areas of priority are:

o       access control

o       public education

o       enforcement of NPC Regulations

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Other Projects:

o       Native Plant Nursery – a multi-partner initiative to collect local rare plant seed and propagate plant material for local restoration projects.

o       Prairie Restoration – a multi-partner initiative to restore remnant prairie habitat to reduce mowing and pesticide use and to create wildlife habitat (pheasants).

o       Native Species Replanting – on-going reintroduction (when and where appropriate) of native plant species.

o       5-Year Prescribed Burn Plan for selected natural areas, including the training of NPC’s own Fire Crew.

o       Land Management Plan – created (on contract) for NPC by Brock University’s Dept. of Tourism & Environment.

o       Proposed Nature Interpretation Centre -- at the Niagara Glen to focus on Species at Risk & nature education.

o – created in 2004/2005.

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            The Niagara Parks Commission

o       Environmental Restoration Projects

o       Ecological Restoration and Riparian Buffer Demonstration Sites

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            Fire (Prescribed Burns)

o       An environmental restoration management tool

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            Paradise Grove

o       Just south of NiagaraontheLake along the Niagara Parkway

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            Current Environmental Issues at Dufferin Islands

o       Species at Risk (SAR)

o       Invasive Alien Species (IAS)

o       Fluctuating water levels (power generation)

o       Spontaneous (unsanctioned) trails

o       Garbage/Litter/Vandalism/Illegal activities

o       Public feeding of birds, especially waterfowl

o       Heavy use by visitors (> 12 million people visit Niagara Falls annually)

o       Erosion and sediment infilling

o       Winter Festival of Lights – should this occur here?

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o       There are at least 60 rare plant species that have been recorded (2006) at Dufferin Islands, including 12 that are SAR in Canada and Ontario (which appear on the COSEWIC and/or COSSARO lists).

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            Invasive plant species include:

  • Norway Maple
  • TreeofHeaven (Ailanthus)
  • European Buckthorn
  • Purple Loosestrife
  • & at least 20 others
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            Thank you.

o       We look forward to sharing our knowledge and experience with our American colleagues for the mutual protection and stewardship of the Niagara River Corridor Ecosystem for the benefit of citizens and wildlife.