Thursday, August 31, 2006

Crime in the Don

Log ride bike stunt near DJs

If this post on a mountain biker forum is to be believed, a young boy was robbed of his bike in the Don Valley today. A place at the south edge of Crothers' Woods known to the biking community as DJ's (Dirt Jumps) has been heavily modified with earthen bike jumps and planks nailed on top of logs. The bikers love these stunts and go to great efforts to build elaborate setups.

Since it is often visited by kids and/or lone riders and since it is quite isolated from the rest of the valley, it would be fairly easy to jump someone here and take whatever, in this case an expensive stunt bike. The biking community is understandably upset and having been alerted will keep an eye out for such things so it may be awhile before it reoccurs.

This isn't the first time there have been problems at this location. Last year there was a problem with paintballers. They dug a trench near DJs and would take potshots at passing bikers. Fortunately they seem to have moved on.

Tree at DJ's shows sign of paintball hits

The city and the Task Force choose to ignore this section of the valley because it is in a difficult to access section (between a railway and the river) and because the forest here is mostly exotic trees and filled with invasive species. Still there may come a time in the near future when the city decides that enough is enough and clear this area out. There is a small pond nearby so there is some potential for restoration. The city is working on a management plan for this area so we'll see if anything happens.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Don Mouth ToR: Approved

In the long bureaucratic process known as an Environmental Assessment the Terms of Reference for the Don Mouth EA has been approved (yay!). Now the actual work of the EA can start. If you want more information check out the TRCA's website.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Ecology Walk

Claire Ellenwood discusses prospects for a tall grass prairie ecosystem at the Brick Works.

I went to one of the Evergreen events at the Brick Works. The ecology walk was a tour of the quarry ponds led by Claire Ellenwood. Claire, a botanist by training, was quite knowledgeable about the site and knew more about some of the plants then I did (although she mistakenly called an Equisetum arvense a Cirsium arvense but that's a minor quibble).

Overall the tour was quite informative. About 40 people attended so they are not having any problems with advertising. You can check out the rest of their events on their website.

Bonus picture: a bee sups on a Cup Plant flower (Silphium perfoliatum)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A Year After the Fire

Last year on July 30, 2005, I was in the valley up near the forks of the Don when I noticed smoke billowing nearby. I came across a grass fire underneath a hydro corridor just east of the DVP. It wasn't very dangerous as there was almost no wind and the fire department arrived within 20 minutes to put it out. The fire was noteworthy for me because it inspired me to create the Don Watcher blog. I posted pictures of the fire and of the aftermath.

After the fire

Same place, one year later

I kept this place in mind because I wanted to see what effect it may have had on the vegetation. This year I visited again and took some comparison photos. As you can see the burned area has been replaced with mostly invasives such as Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota). I thought one result may have been to stimulate new pine growth but there is no evidence of that. The existing pine trees that were singed have not recovered very well.

This year there has been a fair amount of rainfall and this has stimulated some new growth. The path underneath the wires was bare last year but now sports several patches of Beggar-ticks (Bidens frondosa). Also there is one small patch of sunflowers (see below) growing at the edge of the burned area that wasn't there last year. So maybe a little bit of good came of the fire.

Common Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)

While the benefit of controlled burns has been demonstrated in High Park, don't expect this technique to be used in the Don. The existence of overhead wires and underground pipelines in the valley makes this unfeasible.

Enbridge doing work on their gas pipeline, near Beechwood Drive.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

August Evergreen Events

Events at the Brick Works

I've been so wrapped up with this summer course that I forgot all about my blogiversary! It was a year ago last Sunday (July 30) that I posted my first Don Watcher article. Oh well, it's only a couple more weeks then back to the usual. Until then you'll have to be content with this post.

In preparation for their move into the Brck Works next year, Evergreen is now holding monthly events at the Brick Works. You can see from the poster that they are hosting events which comprise activities that represent what might take place when they are permanently ensconced.