Oak Ridges Corridor Conservation Reserve

Activities

The Oak Ridges Corridor Conservation Reserve (ORCCR) is a sanctuary for nature and an essential ecological linkage on the Oak Ridges Moraine. Visitors can learn about ecosystem features and functions, and enjoy activities that are compatible with the natural and cultural values of the park.

Bird watching in oak ridges moraine corridor park


The ORCCR combines two formerly separate properties: Oak Ridges Corridor Park (ORCP) and Oak Ridges Corridor Park East (ORCPE). The two were integrated following the completion of the ORCPE Management Plan in 2011. The property, more than 175 hectares in size, is dominated by forests and wetlands, and consists of many unique and sensitive natural areas.

Trail Planning Projects

Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) is leading two concurrent trail planning projects for the ORCCR:

  • MacLeod Estate Trail Linkage
  • Cycling on Secondary Trails

These two projects are being undertaken under one overarching planning process.

Ecosystem

The Oak Ridges Corridor Conservation Reserve was created to protect the high quality habitats, sensitive plants and wildlife found there. The ORCCR is dominated by mature forests, wetlands, meadows and pristine kettle lakes. Within the site are over 470 types of plants and 81 wildlife species, creating a rich and diverse ecosystem. The ORCCR authorized trail system (see map) has been designed to allow people to enjoy the natural beauty of the area while protecting the integrity of the surrounding ecosystem. Avoiding disturbance to sensitive species while encouraging people to enjoy and appreciate nature is a delicate balance that must be maintained for people to enjoy the trails sustainably for years to come. Careful trail planning, responsible trail user etiquette, and educating others to love and protect the environment is all part of maintaining this balance. Below are just a few of the sensitive species that call the ORCCR home – see if you can spot them next time you are out on the trails, and please take note of how you can avoid disturbing them.

Jefferson Salamander

  • Lives for most of the year in forest habitat, but travels to woodland ponds and wetlands to breed during the spring.
  • This “mole” salamander spends much of its time under fallen leaves, rocks and stumps, or in underground tunnels – informal unauthorized trails can compact soil and destroy these habitats.
  • Endangered in Ontario, their population continues to decline.
Wood Thrush

  • Nests in saplings, trees or shrubs approximately 2 metres from the ground, so people or dogs wandering off-trail can cause these birds to abandon their nests.
  • Call is a loud, flute-clear “oo-oh-lay” song – rival males will answer each other with variations of this song.
  • Forages for food on the forest floor.
  • Species of “Special Concern” in Ontario, populations declining because of residential development pressure around their forest habitats.
Eastern Hemlock

  • These confierous forest giants can live for up to 600 years, and are the longest-living tree species in eastern North America.
  • Can reach heights of 21 metres with trunk diameters of 60-90 centimeters.
  • Seedlings are difficult to grow, but mature trees can slowly regenerate naturally if soil conditions allow.
  • Informal unauthorized trails can compact soil and stop root regeneration.
  • First Nations used eastern hemlock twigs for steam baths and to make tea from the bark for colds, fevers and stomach troubles.

 

Broad-Winged Hawk

  • Nesting pairs spend most of their time beneath the forest canopy, hunting for small prey.
  • Sensitive to human presence and will not nest in areas with high human traffic.
  • Migrates south for the winter in large flocks, numbering in the thousands.
Ovenbird

  • Their nests look like small dutch ovens located on the forest floor.
  • Prefers large forest tracts as their habitat.
  • Sensitive to being flushed from nests by humans or dogs that wander off-trail and get too close.

About the Oak Ridges Moraine

The Oak Ridges Moraine is one of Southern Ontario’s most distinct landform features. It stretches as a ridge of hilly terrain for 160 kilometres — from the Niagara Escarpment in the west to the headwaters of the Trent River in the east. The moraine was created as glaciers receded, depositing layers of sand and gravel separated by clay and till soils. Rainwater collects and is stored in the moraine’s vast underground layers of sand and gravel (known as aquifers), eventually resurfacing as healthy, clean water that feeds the majority of river systems in the Greater Toronto Area.


TRCA oak ridges corridor conservation reserve

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