In the first of our Urban Natural Area stewardship projects, the OSC is working with the City of Ottawa to care for a City-owned 8.9 hectare forest comprising a rare stand of mature cedars in Stittsville with many over 200 years old. Our UNA projects are distinguished by ensuring community commitment to long term and ongoing stewardship of the target site, which had been neglected due to lack of resources and profile.
The Stittsville project has the following goals:
- The forest is to remain a natural area. Site intervention will be minimized.
- Engage the local community in the project and in the long term care of the grove.
- Conduct a bio-inventory to provide site ecological information to the City (completed in June 2014).
- Replant damaged open areas with site-specific native trees and shrubs.
- Engage the local high school in ongoing ecological monitoring using baseline data from the bio-inventory.
- Ensure that the plan for the coming new development to the southeast of the forest is accommodated.
- Provide entrances to the grove to invite people to enjoy its natural beauty.
- Provide interpretive signs at entrances to inform about biology and history of the grove.
We partnered with the adjacent Sacred Heart High School, which will take over long term stewardship of the forest as part of their environmental studies classes.
The project is funded by a $25,000 grant from the Waste Management community project fund. At least $10,000 of this will be provided to the high school for long term stewardship.
June 2014 – Bioinventory. OSC volunteers and experts from the McNamara Field Naturalists Club, the Ottawa Field Naturalists Club, and Vitesse Reskilling Canada catalogued flora and fauna at 10 sample locations in the forest. We wrote a detailed report describing the process and results. This information establishes a baseline for the site, which will be used by the the high school students and the City of Ottawa to monitor changes as new development occurs to the south of the forest. It also informed planting of native, site-specific species in damaged areas.
September 2014 – $25,000. Waste Management awarded us a $25,000 grant from their Community Host Fund to conduct stewardship activities. The grant was awarded on the recommendation of Councillor Shad Qadri.
May 2015 – Tree Planting. Grade 11 students from Sacred Heart High School and their environmental science teacher planted 100 native tree species to help with forest renewal. The hands-on training and experience are part of their environmental science course work. City forester Martha Copestake provided guidance on tree placement.
June 2015 – Commemorative Name Approved. Ottawa City Council approved the commemorative name “Kemp Woodland” for the forest. We submitted the application on behalf of the community. John Kemp (1838-1903) was a prominent 19th century Stittsville tavern keeper, railway contractor, and Goulbourn Township reeve from 1887 to 1894
Kemp’s connection to the forest was discovered due to inquiries made by the OSC as part of its stewardship activities for the forest. Local researchers located historical documents showing Kemp’s ownership of the larger concession lot recorded in 1879 Atlas. Since many of the Eastern White Cedar Trees are over 200 years old, it would seem that there was limited logging of this forest.
September 2015 – Forestry Equipment and Books. Sacred Heart High School received thousands of dollars of forestry equipment and reference books to support its environmental studies program.
October 2015 – Interpretive Signs Installed. Councillor Shad Qadri held an “unveiling” of our three interpretive signs and of the City’s commemorative plaque on the Transcanada Trail. Also in attendance were Glenn Carr from Sacred Heart High School, the Stittsville Village Association, and Waste Management, who provided funding for the project.
The Macnamara Field Naturalists’ Club provided ecological information and photos for two of the signs.
The Goulbourn Township Historical Society provided historical information and a photo of John Kemp for the sign at the southwest end of the Transcanada Trail.
Spring 2016 – Trail Markers. Students installed trail markers along selected informal trails in the woodland.
We have a few remaining tasks to complete for this project:
- Complete installation of the final interpretive sign with landscaping at the southwest corner of the forest near Evelyn Street to connect to the new development’s trail system. This will be done when the development to the south is started.
- Write a final report.
- Formally hand over long term stewardship to Sacred Heart High School along with all remaining funds.
Stories About the Project in the Media
The Stittsville News ran a three page article in its 22 October 2015 edition about our Kemp Woodland project following the sign unveiling:
Stittsville Central article also wrote about the unveiling event in October: http://stittsvillecentral.ca/kemp-woodland-includes…/
Stittsville Central, October 2014: Sacred Heart Students to Help Care for 100 Year Old Forest.
Stittsville News, September 2014: $25,000 For Old Growth Cedar Forest.