Our latest Urban Natural Area (UNA) stewardship project is the Chapman Mills West Woodlot located on Clearbrook Drive near the intersection with Strandherd Drive in Barrhaven. This is a 7 hectare low coniferous upland forest with minor wetland and hardwood elements. The City performed an ecological survey in 2004. Since then major development has occurred and the site has been bisected into two roughly equal areas by the new Clearbrook Drive, creating north and south sections. A new park, Mancini Park, will be built in 2016 abutting the southern end of the forest.
The community partner for this project is École secondaire catholique Pierre-Savard, which is directly to the west of the north section of the forest. The school has over 900 students, who will use the forest for green studies, community service, and exercise. The school has an Eco-School Gold Certification and is working towards its Platinum Certification.
The project has the following objectives:
- maintain and improve the integrity of the natural area
- make the forest more inviting and integral to the community
- create a sense of ownership by the community
- support instruction for specialized skills majors in environment/forestry
- provide access to nature for the students; connect them to nature
- provide an outdoor “green lab”
- provide a cross-country running area
The project began in the fall of 2015 with garbage cleanup and the removal of tons of invasive Common Buckthorn by the students. Over a period of weeks various classes dug out, pulled out, and sawed the buckthorn, creating huge piles to rot down into the forest. Students also mapped existing, informal trails and provided their GPS data to the City to help determine where formal trails should be created.
We have a grant from the Community Foundation of Ottawa to fund the following activities for the students:
- planting of native trees and shrubs in areas cleared of buckthorn,
- developing interpretive signs,
- marking the formal trail system, which will connect to the new Mancini Park to the south and to local streets,
- building bat boxes,
- conducting environmental studies.
Spring 2016 – Bio-Inventory. We conducted a bio-inventory of the forest on 29 May 2016 with help from the Grade 11 biology students and volunteer field naturalists. Experts will continue to rove the forest over the next year and record their findings. Information will be captured in a project on iNaturalist: Chapman Mills West Woodland Project.
Spring 2017 – The students planted 120 trees at five sites in the north and south forests. This included 10 Butternuts from the Butternut Recovery Program run by the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority.
The students marked trails in the forest and provided input to two interpretive signs, which are currently being fabricated. They will be installed in the summer at entrances to the trails on Clearbrook Drive and by Mancini Park.
OSC is taking delivery of bat boxes built by the students this spring. The boxes will be distributed to suitable areas needing mosquito control.