Short Hills Nature Sanctuary

Hooded warbler at Short Hills Nature Sanctuary

Hooded warbler at Short Hills Nature Sanctuary, Photo Tom Staton

Location: Niagara Region, northwest of Fonthill

Dates of Acquisition: 1967 and 1999

Area: 42 acres (17 hectares)

The Short Hills Nature Sanctuary is located within the Fonthill Kame Morraine, a unique landscape consisting of glacial sands and silts highly dissected by the Twelve Mile Creek and its tributaries. Between the nature sanctuary’s forested hills are the headwaters of Effingham Creek (a tributary of Twelve mile Creek) and associated riparian wetlands. The site contains a rare example of old growth Carolinian forest known as the‚ “Valley of the Big Trees”.

Tulip tree at Short Hills Nature Sanctuary

Tulip tree at Short Hills Nature Sanctuary, Photo Paul O’Hara

The original 23 acres (9.3 hectares) of the Short Hills Nature Sanctuary was purchased by the HNC in 1967 as a centennial project. Soon after, footpaths were established through parts of the sanctuary to facilitate nature study. The nature sanctuary was included in the Niagara Escarpment Plan Area, designated as Escarpment Natural Area and subsequently recognized as a core area of the Niagara Escarpment World Biosphere Reserve. With donated funds and support under the Province of Ontario’s Niagara Escarpment Program, the HNC was able to enlarge the nature sanctuary in 1999 through the purchase of an additional 19 acres (7.7 hectares) from the Upper family.

Ecological Significance:
The Short Hills Nature Sanctuary makes up almost half of the North Pelham Valley Area of Natural and Scientific Interest, a provincially significant earth and life science ANSI. From an earth science perspective the site is significant for its representation of Fonthill Kame features as well as the location of the site in the upper reaches of the physiologically significant Twelve Mile Creek glacial re-entrant valley. The sanctuary’s location at the headwaters of Effingham Creek, a cold water stream, and the many seeps and associated wetland areas present make it hydrologically significant. The Short Hills Nature Sanctuary is noteworthy for its high concentration of significant plants and animals and the diversity of vegetation communities within a relatively small area. The site’s old growth forest, including huge Tulip, Oak and Beech trees is also significant.

Management and Access:
The HLT program coordinates ongoing volunteer management and monitoring of the nature sanctuary following a stewardship plan. Management issues include controlling invasive alien species such as Garlic Mustard and retention of old growth forest habitat. A range of ecological research has been undertaken at the Short Hills Nature Sanctuary, including groundwater monitoring, bird surveys and Chestnut tree census work. The HNC published inventories of the flora and fauna of the sanctuary in the 1980′s. Access to the sanctuary is by permission. All HNC members have permission to enter. Others are invited to contact the HNC Sanctuary Director for permission. Motorized vehicles, bicycles and horses are not permitted, nor is hunting, fishing or the removal of any natural materials form the site. Dogs are permitted only if on leash and all users must stay on the marked trails.

Spring at Short Hills Nature Sanctuary

Spring at Short Hills Nature Sanctuary, Photo Glenn Barrett

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