A Commentary by John Bacher
Posted October 31st, 2017 on Niagara At Large
Niagara, Ontario – Since 1993, one of the worst crime against our natural heritage in Niagara has been the various assaults on the Thundering Waters Forest.
Thundering Waters is a refuge for a bewildering number of rare species, perhaps the last refuge in Canada for the Nine Lined Lady Beetle. Rare species such as the Black Gum, Acadian Flycatcher, four types of Endangered Bats, and the most recently discovered Dense Blazing Star find a refuge here.
In 1993, Thundering Waters was hit by a 35 acre clear cut. It was hit by another a seven acre cut in 2014. and varied cuts for a golf course-residential development.
Protests since 2015, however, have held the line at Oldfield Road.
Now a new assault is planned on the 483 acre refuge. This dagger in the heart is a 121 acre scheme called the Riverfront Community Private Official Plan Amendment.
Over the past nine years, there have been two major victories to protect the Thundering Waters Forest.
The first was the designation of the Niagara Falls Slough Forest provincially significant wetland in 2010 (this was followed, possibly not just coincidentally, by the firing of staff at the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority).
The second took place in October 2016, and involved the expansion of this protected provincial wetland in the Thundering Waters Forest area.
The Riverfront Community proposal, released to me by the Niagara Falls Planning Department late this October, represents an effort to pave over all of Thundering Waters which is not a protected wetland or a buffer area around a protected wetland.
From all my years of being involved in the efforts to protect Thundering Waters Forest, I know that the habitat which is targeted for destruction is significant.
The abandoned Ramsey Road which runs through the heart of the threatened landscape, is alive much of the year with toads, frogs and salamanders in its ruts. Here are often seen Snapping Turtles.
Near the road are refuges for the Milk Snake. I discovered a regionally rare and quite beautifully wildflower the Butterfly Milkweed, an important food source for Monarch Butterflies. During a sit-in protest at the Thundering Waters site this past summer, my friend, Daniel Nardone, discovered a Threatened Wildflower, the Dense Blazing Star.
It is important to stop the Riverfront Community.
Please share this message with your friends and associates and, most importantly of all, send it to the Niagara Falls Planning Department and to the city’s elected councillors.
This commentary was written by Dr. John Bacher, a long-time conservation activist in Niagara, Ontario, a Greenbelt Campaign leader at Sierra Club Ontario, and a member of the Preservation of Agricultural Lands Society (PALS) (link is external).
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