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. Our grassland contractor is keeping a close eye on things and we are starting to see some of the natives species flourish in 2022 which is a sign that they have begun to establish their roots and others will soon do the same!
Although some natives are thriving, we are still seeing some plant species we don't want. The high nitrogen levels in the soil paired with a cool, wet spring in 2022 allowed many non-natives to flourish! And of course, we want to control them.
Protecting wildlife and the native grasses and wildflowers
High mows have been used to help reduce the non-native species in the meadow as they weaken the plants and don't allow them to go to seed. This type of mowing does not negatively affect the native species that were planted, they are busy establishing their roots which can take several years. To ensure we have not disrupted any nesting birds during the process, a breeding bird survey was completed prior to any cutting. Our grassland contractor completed a high mow in July 2022 to try and slow the growth of the invasive plants.
Will there be any more spraying or seeding?
We are monitoring the area now and some hand pulling and spot treatments of non-native species may also be required this fall. This will all help improve the meadow habitat. Signs will be posted at the site in advance of any spraying.
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 determine if/when additional seeding is required.
We may complete a prescribed burn next year
As we know, native meadows take time to establish. This project will continue into 2023 and beyond. In the future, we may even try a prescribed burn which is a deliberately set and carefully controlled low fire that consumes the previous year's stems and leaves. These burns are an effective tool in the management of grassland habitat and the suppression of invasive species and will ultimately further enhance the meadow.
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.