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Public Access Grasslands

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Ojibway Prairie Complex

PrairieThe Ojibway Prairie Complex, located in Windsor, is one of Ontario's largest and most important prairie-savanna sites. It consists of five natural areas totaling 334 ha. Four of these areas, Ojibway Park, Tallgrass Prairie Heritage Park, Black Oak Heritage Park, and Spring Garden Natural Area, are administered by the City of Windsor's Ojibway Nature Center. The fifth area, the Ontario Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve, is owned by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. More than 700 flowering plants are found here, some of which are found nowhere else in Ontario. Interesting and rare wildlife include the Massasauga Rattlesnake, Yellow-Breasted Chat, Butler's Garter Snake and over 80 species of butterflies. Information and interpretive programs are available at the Ojibway Nature Centre: 519-966-5852.

Directions: Take Hwy 401 to Windsor and follow the signs to the Ambassador Bridge. The highway becomes Huron Church Road. Turn left (west) onto the EC Row expressway (C.R. 18) and then turn left on Matchette Road. Go 1.3 km to the nature center on the right (west) side of the road.
Photo- Ojibway Prairie - Culvers Root and Tick Trefoil

Dutton-Dunwich Prairie

This prairie grows along and between a set of abandoned railroad tracks in Elgin County near the Town of Dutton in Dunwich Township.  In 1999, members of the West Elgin Nature Club negotiated with the landowner, CSX Railroad, to lease and manage the site. 

The prairie had become overgrown with woody plants since the once frequent railway fires ceased.  A prescribed burn was undertaken in the spring of 2000 to revitalize the site. Blazing Star, Grey-Headed Coneflower, Compass Plant and most of the prairie grasses are found in abundance.

Directions: Take Hwy 401 to Exit 149 and go south 0.8 km on Currie Road.  Turn right (west) on Pioneer Line and travel 3.7 km to Coyne Road.  Turn south (left) and go 0.9 km to the railway track.  The prairie is on the left (east) side of the tracks.

Photo - Compass plant at Dutton-Dunwich Prairie Photo-Pat Deacon

 

Howard Watson Nature Trail

The Howard Watson Nature Trail was established in 1988 on an abandoned Canadian National Railway right-of-way in Sarnia.  Interesting prairie plants that grow here include Wild Lupine, Rough Blazing-Star, Fringed Puccoon, Porcupine Grass, Butterfly Weed and Stiff Goldenrod. The section of trail from Modeland Road to Blackwell Side Road is flanked by Tallgrass Prairie on both sides.  Beyond the prairie is fringe of woodland containing Black Oak, Sassafras and Fragrant Sumac.  The trail, 2.2km in length, is owned by the city and managed by Lambton Wildlife Incorporated.

Directions: From Hwy 402 take Exit 6 and go north onto Modeland Road (Regional Road 27). Go 2.8 km to the parking lot which is on the right (east) side of the road.

Pinery Provincial Park

Pinery Provincial Park's oak savanna is the largest in Ontario and one of the largest surviving in North America. This savanna contains many unique species such as dwarf chinquapin oak, wild lupine, Olympia marblewing (butterfly) and eastern hognose snake. Nearly 800 species of plants and 300 species of birds have been recorded.

To restore and maintain the native habitats in the park, several management projects have been undertaken including the removal of planted pine trees and the reduction of the white-tailed deer population. The park's extensive sandy beach and numerous hiking trails are additional attractions. For information on hikes and interpretation programs, drop by the Visitor Centre or check out their website at https://www.ontarioparks.com/park/pinery or http://www.pinerypark.on.ca

Directions: Located 9 km southwest of Grand Bend on Hwy 21.  Follow the signs.

Photo- Lookout Trail, Pinery Provincial Park


City of Brantford Greenway

This public greenway, also called the Gordon Glaves Memorial Parkway, was established in 1990 on an abandoned Canadian Pacific rail line in the City of Brantford along the Grand River.  A 500 metre section of trail from Hardy Road to Dufferin Avenue is flanked by Tallgrass Prairie on both sides, totaling 5 ha.  A prescribed burn was carried out here in 1998.
There are many interesting plants to look for including Dwarf Chinquapin Oak, Green Milkweed, Porcupine Grass, Round-Headed Bush Clover, and Side Oats Gramma.

Directions:  Take Hwy 403 to Hwy 2 (Paris Road) and travel south to Toll Gate Road. Turn right and travel west to Ava Road, then turn left and go south for 500m to Glenhyrst Gardens.  Park there and walk down to the river bank and rail-trail.

Photos - Brantford Greenway - Dan Stuart

 
Turkey Point Provincial Park

The only provincial park with a golf course, Turkey Point is also a naturalist's paradise. This 300 hectare park on Lake Erie offers visitors a chance to see a classic black oak savanna that is undergoing restoration. 

In 1992, a prescribed burn program was initiated to eliminate the shrubby and herbaceous plants that were filling in the savanna.  The planted pines have also been thinned.

The park contains black oak savanna, oak-pine woodland and prairie openings, habitats that were once common in this region.  Fern-leaved false foxglove, cylindrical blazing-star, green milkweed and bird's-foot violet are just some of the interesting plants found here.

The park is also an excellent place to view a variety of birds including waterfowl, bald eagle, snowy owl and sandhill crane in season.

The wild turkey from which the park derives its name was once extirpated from the area but were reintroduced and are now abundant.

Directions:  From Simcoe, take Hwy 24 south to Regional Road 10 and follow the signs. The park is west of Normandale and east of St. Williams.
Photos - Top: Turkey Point Provincial Park right after prescribed burn and the following summmer (bottom)

High Park

Located within the City of Toronto, High Park's black oak savanna and woodland communities are considered continentally significant by virtue of their northern location, size, and species richness.  Interesting plants include Cup Plant, Wild Lupine, Sassafras and open-grown Black, Red and White oaks.  There are several intact parcels of savanna along the west side of West Road.
 
The public has been very committed to the protection and conservation of this unique habitat.  There are opportunities for public participation in plant propagation, planting, weed removal, monitoring and interpretation.  Contact the Parks Department at (416) 392-1748.  The Nature Centre and trail network make High Park an excellent place to learn about savannas. See here for more information.

Directions: The north entrance is located off Bloor Street West, west of Parkside Drive at High Park Avenue. 

Goodrich Loomis Conservation Area

The Goodrich Loomis Conservation Area, located north of Brighton, contains numerous small prairie remnants and an oak savanna that is presently being restored.  This 179 hectare conservation area is part of a larger area of oak-pine woodland with open prairie habitat on the kames and eskers (mounds of till deposited by glacial streams and waterfalls).  The property was donated in part by Frank Goodrich and Roy Loomis to the Lower Trent Conservation Authority in 1970 to be preserved as a wildlife sanctuary.

Tallgrass plants of interest include Round-head Bush-clover, Prairie Buttercup, Indian Grass, Black Oak and Tick Trefoil.  The conservation area contains a total of 12 km of trails and a Conservation Centre.  For more information or specific directions to the prairie pockets, call the Lower Trent Conservation Authority at (613) 394-4829.

Learn about the prairie restoration work at Goodrich-Loomis.

Directions:  From Brighton, go 12.6km north on Hwy 30 to the junction with County Road 28.  Turn west onto 7th Line of Brighton and go 5.4 km.

Carden Alvar Provincial Park

Carden Alvar Provincial Park is one of Ontario’s newest provincial parks. It contains some of the largest tracts of grasslands in public hands. An alvar is a habitat of thin or absent soil cover on top of a limestone base. One type of alvar is dominated by native grasses and flowering plants and is among the rarest grasslands in the province. 
Visit their website at: http://www.ontarioparks.com/parksblog/carden-alvar-provincial-park-one-of-ontarios-newest-parks/

Rondeau Provincial Park

A wide range of ecosystems can be found within the Park, including: sandy dunes, marshlands, tall-grass prairie, oak savanna and one of Canada’s largest remnant Carolinian forest.  These ecosystems are vital to the survival of many endangered species and are present in an area where tourists come to experience nature and wildlife. Telephone: (519)-674-5405

Cylindrical Blazing Star Meadow at Rondeau Park. Photo - Allen Woodliffe


Directions: Take Exit # 101 from HWY
401 (Kent Bridge Road/CK County Rd 15). Follow Kent Bridge Road/CK County Rd 15 south for 16km.Turn right onto Wildwood Line/CK County Rd 17. Follow Wildwood Line/CK County Rd 17 for 1km to the park entrance.

Prescribed Burn at Rondeau, Photo– Jonathan Wild, MNRF

 



Other Public Sites

Bronte Creek Provincial Park (905-827-6911)

FWR Dickson Conservation Area (Grand River Conservation Authority, 519-621-2761)

Grand River Trail (Grand River Conservation Authority, 519-621-2761)

Holland Landing Prairie (MNR Aurora, 905-713-7400)

Karner Blue Sanctuary (Lambton Wildlife Incorporated), Port Franks

Lambton Park Prairie (City of Toronto, 416-392-1888)

Longpoint Provincial Park (519-586-2133)

Lorne Park Prairie (City of Mississauga, 905-896-5384)

Niagara Gorge (Niagara Parks Commission, 905-371-0254)

Point Pelee National Park (519-322-2365)

St. Williams Tract (MNR Aylmer, 519-773-9241)

South Walsingham (Long Point Region Conservation Authority, 519-428-4623)

Spencer Gorge (Hamilton Region Conservation Authority, 1-888-319-4722)

Wasaga Beach Provincial Park (705-429-2516)

Waterloo-Clyde Road Prairie, Shade Mills CA (Grand River Conservation Authority, 519-621-2761)

Recommended Resources

Wake, Winnifred (ed.). 1997. A Nature Guide to Ontario. University of Toronto Press Incorporated.

University of Waterloo, Ecology Lab: https://uwaterloo.ca/ecology-lab/

Natural Heritage Information Centre newsletter: https://www.ontario.ca/page/natural-heritage-information-centre

For More Information

For more information on tallgrass prairies and savannas and conservation efforts, contact us info@tallgrassontario.org