The Spring Garden Natural Area, an Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI) within the Detroit River watershed, underwent a significant transformation last month, aimed at restoring and improving its outstanding habitat values. “Spring Garden has been identified as provincially, regionally, and locally significant because it is an outstanding example of remnant prairie, savannah and oak woodland vegetation,” explains Karen Cedar, City of Windsor Park Naturalist. “It offers very rare and important habitat values, but these values are presently at risk due to invasive species such as the Autumn Olive, which is threatening the area’s biodiversity.” Cedar notes that this invasive, woody shrub can negatively impact the many provincially rare flora and fauna species, including a number of species at risk.
A collaborative effort between the Essex Region Conservation Authority, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and the City of Windsor has started to restore the habitat values of the Spring Garden area. “A comprehensive restoration plan [was] drafted by a team of professional biologists and gives significant consideration to the protective measures to be taken for each of the species that inhabit this sensitive area,” explains Kevin Money, Director of Conservation Services for the Essex Region Conservation Authority and project lead.
As part of permits received for construction of the Rt. Hon. Herb Gray Parkway, MTO is required to restore habitat for species at risk. Upon completion of this work, over 130 hectares of land will have been restored or enhanced for both Eastern Foxsnake and Butler’s Gartersnake, as well a host of other prairie and savannah species.
A prescribed burn is planned within the next year to further regenerate the prairie and savannah habitats. Additional information will be circulated on these phases of the project. “We are most excited about the ultimate impact this restoration project will have for these endangered ecosystems,” Cedar concludes.
April 13, 2016: 7:30 p.m. – A representative from the Nature Conservancy of Canada will be at the Ojibway Nature Centre and will speak about NCC in southwestern Ontario. She will provide an overview of how NCC works and how NCC focuses its efforts, highlighting a few key areas and current projects, including Pelee Island and Essex County mainland. The Nature Conservancy of Canada’s approach to ecological restoration, properties to visit and volunteer opportunities will be profiled.