2017 was a banner year at John E. Pearce Provincial Park. Not only did the park celebrate its 60th anniversary, but it was also the grand opening of a multi-year wetland restoration project and the Wetland “Storey Trail.”
Here’s the before shot:
And here’s the after:
What a change!
This project was very special because wetlands play a very important role in our landscape and are a vital part of any healthy ecosystem. These dynamic systems constantly change from year to year depending on water levels, spring snowmelt, and precipitation.
Wetlands provide us (and the many species that depend on them) a variety of different resources and functions, such as providing food, habitat, water filtration, and flood protection.
Wetlands are also helping in our battle against climate change by sequestering carbon; Carbon dioxide can become trapped and stored within a wetland if left undisturbed for a long period of time. And, because wetlands are extremely sensitive to changes in their environment, they need our protection and understanding.
When initial planning for the restoration of the John E. Pearce Wetland began in 2015, it involved local stakeholders and volunteers, adjacent landowners, numerous supporters, as well as staff from Ontario Parks, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and the local Conservation Authority. It became very clear, very quickly, that being part of the creation of something so valuable was important to everyone involved.
In 2016, the process of restoring 8 ha (20 acres) of former farmland really began to take off. That spring, the local Conservation Authority planted 2,000 seedlings at the site while field preparation was underway.
Once planting was completed, construction of three wetland cells followed in the fall of 2016.
Construction of wetlands 1 and 3 (fall 2016)
Not long after, two blocks of white pine plantations on the property were thinned to aid species diversification. In spring 2017, the Conservation Authority continued planting another 6,000 trees and, around the same time, Ontario NativeScape and the Rural Lambton Stewardship Network planted 3.5 ha (8 acres) of native pollinator and tallgrass prairie habitat throughout the place.
From there a 1.5 km trail was created and finished with a smooth surface of chips and dust. As the trail winds through the restoration site, visitors can enjoy 15 bilingual interpretive panels that discuss the ecology and history of the area.
An accessible viewing platform was also erected in the first wetland cell, providing a better vantage point for visitors to appreciate the wetlands.
Final sign mounted on the observation deck (February 2018)
Loaf logs will be placed within the wetland cells to provide aquatic structure and a variety of specialist habitat features, including bird, duck and bat boxes, as well as a snake hibernaculum, will further complement this incredible project.
There are also plans for a prescribed burn to be conducted this spring in the area immediately north of the restoration site, with additional planting of tallgrass prairie immediately following the burn.
Previous efforts to remove invasive plant species found within the site will also continue.
Thank you very much to everyone who made this project possible!
This incredible project was only possible with the support and funding of our many partners and contributors.
We had wet weather for our grand opening (November 2017)
We would like to extend our thanks and sincere thanks to:
- Tyrconnell Heritage Society and the Backus-Page House Museum
- Government of Canada Grant/Canada 150
- TD Friends of the Environment Foundation
- Ontario Government
- Ontario NativeScape and the Lambton Rural Management Network
- Elgin Board of Directors
- Kettle Creek Conservation Authority
- Forests Ontario and the 50 million trees program
- Elgin Clean Water Program
- Dutton/Dunwich Township
- Littlejohn Farms and Darrell Dick Digging
Everyone involved in this project should be very proud!
Where is the park?
For those who may not know about this unique gem of a park, John E. Pearce Provincial Park is a day-use only park located just south of Wallacetown on the shores of Lake Erie.
Here is wetland cell #3 in summer 2017
The park is named after the gentleman who generously donated the land in the 1950s and this property had been in his family since it was first settled in 1809. Steeped in history and located in the heart of the Talbot settlement, a Restored Georgian style from the 1850s. The house (Backus Page House Museum) is located on the property and is operated by Tyrconnell Heritage Society.
Backus Page Farm
Visitors can step back in time with informative tours of the house, which tell the stories of the Backus family, or experience a variety of other interesting events hosted by the Society on site.
For more information about Backus Page House, Tyrconnell Heritage Society and their events, visit http://backuspagehouse.ca/.
Hiking and natural beauty.
The park also offers the Spicer Trail, where ample bird watching opportunities and a beautiful 2 km hike through mature hardwood forests await.
A look at the forest during spring: a great time to see wildflowers!
Fifteen interpretive stops are described in the trail guide and 30 trees are identified along this trail.
A small picnic area situated on 30 m bluffs along the lake shore offers visitors a beautiful view of Lake Erie.
John E. Pearce Provincial Park overlooking Lake Erie