Transforming Chase – Stewardship Update

Transforming Chase – The Stewardship Journey.

By: Patricia Wilson, KLT’s Community Conservation & Stewardship Technician

Fall is such a beautiful time of year, one of changing leaves and reflecting on summer experiences. For us at KLT, it’s also a time of wrapping up the field season and assess the work we accomplished over the spring and summer.

A property that stands out from this summer’s work is our John Earle Chase Memorial Park.

This stunning property features forested walking trails, rolling hills and amazing views overlooking Pigeon Lake and has gone through quite the transformation over the past two years.

Last year, KLT staff and volunteers worked to properly mark all trails and close off access to other areas of the property where people had dumped garbage and used the area for recreational ATVing. This year we focused on finishing the installation of cedar rail fencing and gates to prevent prohibited use on the property. We have also engaged many more people on the property in stewardship and educational events!

Here’s a summary of what we accomplished:

Volunteers worked hard to install a new observation platform so that the public can enjoy views of the Provincially Significant Wetland without disturbing the wetland ecosystem.

Volunteers helped to clean up garbage along the roadways surrounding the property, trim the trails to get them ready for the hiking season and removed invasive European Buckthorn.

Fleming College students in the Ecosystem Management Program assisted in the preparation of the Tall Grass Prairie restoration site on the property, helping to till and rake the site for planting.

KLT partnered with two youth camps, ME to WE Camp and Trent Aboriginal Cultural Knowledge & Science (TRACKS) Camp in effort to engage young campers in hands-on stewardship work and educate them on the importance of conservation and restoration work!

KLT had ME to WE campers and staff help plant Grey dogwood shrubs in areas where non-native invasive species had been removed in order to grow native shrub cover and increase biodiversity. Campers also assisted in planting 50 tall grass prairie plugs and other tall grass species (Butterfly milkweed & New Jersey tea). The campers participated in a guided tour of some of the trails providing education on the importance of land conservation, tall grass prairie ecosystems and the threats facing our landscape.

TRACKS campers and camp staff spent a full day helping to plant tall grass prairie plugs (Bluestem & Indian grass) as well as other native tall grass and pollinator species. Campers planted a total of 370 plants and were educated on the importance of Tall Grass Prairie habitat, both culturally and environmentally, connecting it to Indigenous teaching that they have learned about at camp.

KLT staff and volunteers installed another 200 meters of cedar rail fencing along the roadside and installed two gates to block access to unauthorized access.

A designated parking area and trail head has been developed, with trail head interpretive signage to be installed this winter. KLT consulted with Curve Lake First Nations for information to produce culturally appropriate signage for Chase.

Through the work of our dedicated volunteers the landscape of the property has already changed! Areas that were torn up and degraded by ATV use has grown back to allow wildflowers and grasses to flourish! Native species have been given the space to grow in areas once dominated by invasive species, contributingto the overall biodiversity of the property. More people are accessing the trails now that clear signage and a designated parking area have been created.

Even with all this success, the work needed still isn’t over!  A Stewardship Fund still needs to be established in order to ensure the long term protection of this unique property. Based on future activities required long term for Chase and the fair market value of the property, it is estimated that between $500K-1M will need to be raised as a Stewardship Fund. As with all of our properties – we could not protect them without the generous support of our volunteers and donors.

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