The (re)Making of a Marvelous Meadow
A unique new home for birds and butterflies coming soon to Rogers Reservoir
Restoring a former glory
It's estimated that 99% of grasslands (including meadows) have been cleared from landscapes in southern Ontario. The four hectare patch we're restoring at Rogers Reservoir will help increase this very threatened habitat. From grazing cattle to growing hay, the once rich-diversity of plant and animal species has suffered. The hardened compacted soil now only supports a few non-native and invasive plants.
Through the support of partners including the Town of East Gwillimbury and the Lake Simcoe Conservation Foundation, we're excited to undertake a transformative restoration project at the south east corner of Mt. Albert and Yonge St.
Meadow Restoration at Rogers Reservoir
This native meadow will be a sight to behold - you'll be able to see this beautiful landscape from the Nokiidaa Trail on the north side of the river, but a newly meandering trail will also allow you to explore up close. As we move forward with this project, there may be opportunities to participate in meetings, plantings, guided walks and more.
Make sure you join the Rogers Reservoir mailing list to stay informed of upcoming opportunities.
What are the next steps?
Restoring a native meadow can take a few years and during that time having fast growing non-native species throughout is common to see as it establishes. We will be controlling non-native plants with a high mow method. Our staff will be monitoring the height of the thistle and the grassland contractor will determine when a high mow is needed to keep it under control.
The contractor expects 2 to 3 mows this year and the first mow will take place in June before the thistle goes to seed.
Protecting wildlife and the native grasses and wildflowers
A high mow will help reduce the non-native species in the meadow as it weakens the plants and does not allow them to go to seed. This type of mowing does not negatively affect the native species that were planted last fall. They are busy establishing their roots which can take several years. To ensure we are not disrupting any nesting birds during the process, a breeding bird survey will be done prior to any cutting.
Will there be any more spraying or seeding?
We are monitoring areas with more aggressive invasive species that may need to be targeted for additional spot herbicide applications and hand removal. Signs will be posted at the site in advance of any spraying. There were also a few small areas that were missed with spraying in 2020 and will be targeted in 2021.
Additional seeding in some areas may be required this fall, as well as next year to further enhance the native species in the meadow. This is part of the overall implementation plan for the Rogers Meadow. Our grassland contractor will monitor the site and determine if/when additional seeding is required.
Bird's Eye View - The Meadow Now
You can hike along the meadow trail, but have you ever wondered how it looks from above? Thanks to our kind partners at York Region, wonder no longer. We thought you'd enjoy this bird's eye view video taken by drone earlier this year.
Altogether, the minimum anticipated length for this project's completion is four years.
We ask that visitors and their pets respect all posted signage, follow detour routes and stay out of areas under restoration.
Four New Unique Habitats are Coming!
- The new 1 hectare The West Meadow area will feature beautiful native grasses and will be the perfect habitat for nesting birds, like the Eastern Meadowlark and Bobolink.
- The 2 hectare East Meadow section will be the largest of the four and will include picturesque pollinator-friendly plants such as Butterfly Milkweed and Wild Bergamot.
- A Wet Meadow Marsh 0.7 hectares in size will help retain water during wet spells and allow moisture-loving plants like Swamp Milkweed to thrive.
- The 0.15 hectare Western Chorus Frog Habitat will be made up of a seasonal body of water surrounded by native plants and shrubs to entice many types of frogs and other amphibians to take up residence.
The location of this project also supports other nearby meadow restoration efforts undertaken in the past couple of years. This newest project will complement nearby grassland restoration projects including those completed at the Holland Landing Lagoons and the Bendor and Graves Tract.
What's a meadow? What does it do?
Eastern Meadowlark © Emily Fikkert
A meadow is a landscape consisting of grasses and wildflowers and not woody plants or trees. There are different kinds of grasslands each providing distinctive ecological roles and habitats for different animals. These grasslands include meadows, prairies, oak savannahs or even pastures and hay fields.
Meadows are vital to a healthy and resilient ecosystem for many reasons.
- They have a great ability to store a large amount of carbon and release it very slowly, mitigating the effects of climate change.
- The deep roots of meadow species help not only filter contaminants that accumulate in run off, they also absorb more water and therefore prevent flooding.
- Meadows provide excellent habitat for a number of birds who will not nest elsewhere and are therefore at-risk: the Eastern Meadowlark and the Bobolink.
- The numerous native flowering plants that make up a meadow benefit pollinators, like bees and butterflies, who are essential to produce the food we eat.
Perhaps most noticeable of all to us, a meadow is a sight to behold year around: from the long swaying grasses of Big Blue Stem and Indian Grass, and the colourful flowers and winged visitors of the spring, summer, and fall.
The abundance of types of plants is more than just beautiful; it helps encourage biodiversity as a whole. With the increasing urbanization and fragmentation of our watershed, conservation of our local grasslands is critical.
If you have questions or would like more information about this project, contact Lori McLean, Restoration Project Specialist at l.mclean@LSRCA.on.ca or 905-895-1281.