Saturday, March 10, 2007

Management Plan for Crothers' Woods

Trail system in Crothers Woods
Red: Existing Ridge Trail
Blue: New beginner loop using existing trail
Green: New trails proposed

The long awaited management plan for Crothers' Woods was presented to the public at a meeting at city hall this week. The meeting was well attended by the environmental community as well as the mountain bikers. There was even a dog walker or two in attendance. The plan was put together by David Leinster from the Planning Partnership. The plan has two main features:

1. Rationalization of the trail network

The plan calls for a reduction in overall trail length of about 1.8 km. This will reduce trail fragmentation which is the main concern for environmentalists. The plan also calls for the creation of the some new trails, especially for beginners (see map).

The plan also called for the closure of the trails in the section known as 'The Flats'. This is a section of the valley between the CN tracks and the river that is only partially accessible. Most of the access is across the tracks at informal crossings which is of particular concern to the city. This proposal caused the most discussion as the bikers are particularly proud of the effort they have put into this section (see my previous post on the subject). The bikers did propose some alternatives such as a bridge or a tunnel but I think these are unlikely. A bridge (or two) will likely run into at least six figures and is not something that the cash strapped city will spring for, especially to get access to such a marginal area.

Another contentious topic was the proposal to remove unsafe stunts. This is a bit of a euphemism because currently there are no safe stunt structure so by definition they are all unsafe. Again the bikers don't want to see their hard work destroyed. They proposed to work on standards for structure which the consultant agreed was a good idea.

2. Invasive species management

As with other parts of the Don Valley, Crothers' Woods is threatened by a number of non-native invasive species such as Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata), Dog-strangling Vine (Cynanchum rossicum), and Creeping Thistle (Cirsium arvense). The consultants concluded that complete removal of these species is unrealistic but their spread can be controlled by concentrating removal efforts in the vicinity of the access points. This should help to limit the spread of seeds which may be carried on clothing of park visitors.

The final version of the plan will be released by mid-April. The city said they needed to spend another year working on an implentation plan so any actual work other than the continuing program of trail improvements won't take place until 2008.

Personally I think the plan is well balanced and will provide the city with a management plan which will improve the health of the are over the long term.


Monado said...

I found you because you posted to Science Notes. I didn't know that Crothers's Woods had a name.

I doubt that limited weeding will control the dog-strangling vine AKA pale swallowwort. The seeds fly like milkweed fluffs so they will soon be all over the city east of the Don Valley. Any vacant lot east of Broadview already has its share. I've seen it growing in people's gardens, lovingly staked (it is a handsome plant; and I saw two women triumphantly carrying home a potted plant that looked like an unusually luxuriant specimen of the weed.

Perhaps we could have a couple of weeding parties against invasive plants when the ground thaws, before the plants get too tough and too deeply rooted.

Anonymous said...

DSV also spreads by its roots, even a tiny fragment of the roots can start a new plant. So be careful with a weeding party as incorrect methods of removing invasive species can often make the problem worse and waste alot of volunteer time.

Donwatcher said...

Thanks for your comments on DSV. I've got seven years experience with this tenacious invader so I know how difficult it is to remove. The recommendation in the plan is to identify the entry points for the park that are used the most. Then try to control invasive species at these places to try and limit humans and dogs from spreading them deeper into the forest.

Anonymous said...

Two of the more despised woody invasives are European Buckthorn and Norway Maple. Why then, on the way into Serena Gundy, does the City maintain(pruning and trimming)what has got to be the largest specimen of Rhamnus cathartica in Toronto?(in front of the log cabin).
Why then, in the same vicinity, does the City plant a Commemorative Tree (Acer platanoides) in the Spring of 2006?

Donwatcher said...

This is more a case of the structure of Parks and Recreation than an invasive species conspiracy. Each park has its own manager. These managers have a lot of latitude as to how their parks are managed and many of them are still "old school", ie. they think Norway Maples are pretty. If you send a picture of these trees I'll post them with a story.


Anonymous said...

It is good that you plan on taking this invasive exotic issue to the next step. Parks maintenance is but part of the problem. Let it be known that commemorative trees and restoration are under forestry; Those from the former can be described as truant, those from the latter as oblivious.

Besides the Buckthorn and Norway Maple growing by the log cabin, nothing is more ridiculous than the signs that read "Natural Regeneration" surrounded by Dog Strangling Vine, Buckthorn and Manitoba Maple.