Friends of the Cawthra Bush
Greater Mississauga Area
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City of Mississauga.
ATTN: John Lohuis, Director of Recreation and Parks.
ATTN: David Main, Project Leader.
RE: [#53] Jan. 29/98 Dr. James P. Bogart salamander talk.
Dear UFMAC: - Jan. 30, 1998 [#53]
Dr. Bogart's lesson on the Blue spotted salamander complex was just what the doctor ordered to heal the wounds Cawthra Bush suffered from human impact. Water is the key if you want to continue to have a salamander population and we have three kinds or bring back the frogs (don't forget the toads). The Cawthra Bush needs to have ponds and needs to be kept damp. Salt maybe a problem but lack of water will cause the extinction of the amphibians in Cawthra Bush. In my talks after his presentation Dr. Bogart questioned if salt was a problem for salamander as he has seen them breeding in ditches and pools beside roads where they would get lots of salt and pollution of all kinds. Using groundwater to flood areas would also help wash out the salt. The City is too preoccupied with trees, in it plans its says no pond if salt affects tree mortality. I can understand why City cares more about trees then the ecology, as the general public would appreciate a recreational walk through a forest and would say what a good park the Councillor created for us. Rather then enjoying a walk through a mosquito infested old-growth ecosystem/swamp forest. By the way mosquitos are not covered by City "ecosystem" plans, they are a part of the equation. But the bottom line is the City is not giving the attention it should to the alternative plans presented by the Friends of the Cawthra Bush (FCB), and history repeats its self, as it did with the deforestation of the easement. Lady Cawthra has provided us with two wells, both for water level monitoring and flooding areas to keep them useful as breeding grounds, lets see what they can do. By the way the water level is up 2' 10" in the one well. Dr. Bogart was asked if the FCB alternative plan of flooding areas with groundwater could work to maintain amphibian breeding grounds and the forest damp. His reply was yes as he knows of another professor who had his salamander pond drained by a pipe being laid too close by and used a fire hydrant to keep his pond full! Waiting till 2002 is unreasonable, the roots of trees will have grown down trying to find the lowered watertable and efforts to restore the hydrology and ecology will cause many tree to die. If we are going to act, it must be now!
The large trees like Beech are needed and the City should not have cut down large old trees. The mature forest with its large deep roots and lots of dead wood is the key to the survival of the noted old-growth ecosystem at Cawthra, anything else will change the forest in to an unnatural thing and will not be constance with stated City goals, "self-sustaining natural ecological processes." the matter of cost to create this all-age forest is an issue as well.
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The forest canopy as a means to keep the moisture in the forest and its benefit to the ecosystem, is a primary concern not noted in City plans. There is an biological relationship and dependence between Maples and Beech trees and the salamander population, that is necessary and not noted in City plans. The Beech maybe dying back from disease but efforts to replant them from one part of the forest to another should be looked into. Even if they only live 50 years before dying, that could be enough for them to make their necessary contribution to the forest ecology and who knows, there could be a treatment found in the next few years. Efforts to change the forest succession, create an all-age forest or favor shade intolerant trees (by creating openings in the canopy), should not be considered in the forest but on the forest edge or easement. One thing is for sure the City says it wants to keep the natural ecology going, the salamanders need the Maple and Beech trees, just as the needs the ponds and dampness.
Dr. Bogart clearly stated the Jefferson salamander is and should be consider rare and threatened, he is also going to submitting a report to C.O.S.E.W.I.C. so they can be federally regarded as endangered. Their habitat requirements alone make them endangered in the GTA area. The City's biggest error was not to follow up on the salamanders reports and their habitat requirements. The Jefferson requires a mature forest/old-growth ecosystem. Which the City has know for years about the salamanders, as noted in its own reports but didn't follow up. Many people did in fact listen to the FCB and write on their questionnaires that they reject City plans for the Cawthra Bush and the FCB represent their interest in the Cawthra Bush. If the City takes Dr. Bogart's, Wayne Weller's and residents (keep it natural) comments on habitat requirement seriously, then City plans have to be complete redrawn. If the City takes Dr. Bogart's, Wayne Weller's and expert opinions (that the presence of a health population of amphibians shows a health forest), concerns about the decline of amphibians and lose of wetlands (talk to CVC about this one), seriously it will listen to the FCB and residents and restore the swamp forest ecology, it is a unique natural heritage site.
Inclosing more can and will be added but enough has been noted for the current City management and implementation plans for the Cawthra Bush to be redrawn, resubmitted to UFMAC and public process. Under no circumstances should they go to City Council for approval. It was most unfortunate that the City didn't invite the FCB to participate last nights event or Mr. Barber to bring his salamanders. I did show up with them and they were the star of the show. This only goes to show there is over whelming proof the City has no intentions of dealing with residents concerns or the residents group representing those concerns seriously. The lack of questions from City staff was also noted. Just to repeat one of the FCB main concerns, the City doesn't know all that lives in the Cawthra Bush and its doesn't fully understand its ecosystem. The City shouldn't base it actions on an incomplete data base. The FCB wants to get through the politics to deal with the issues concerning the survival of the Cawthra Bush and as the methods developed at Cawthra, for forest management will in all likelihood be applied to forested areas through Mississauga, lets get it right, show we can be leaders in environmental responsibly actions and pass on to the next generation some truly high quality environmental significance/natural heritage sites.
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The Friends of the Cawthra Bush will work over this weekend to present some of our main concerns and how we (the City and FCB) should proceed, in upcoming meetings with the FCB and the City, to redrawn the managements plans, as per discussions with D. Main at the Jan. 26 UFMAC meeting.
Sincerely yours - Donald Barber
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