Location: Norfolk County, north of Normandale (near Turkey Point)
Dates of Acquisition: 1961 and 1993
Area: 165 acres (66 hectares)
Factsheet about the Spooky Hollow Nature Sanctuary
Lying within the Norfolk Sand Plain, the Spooky Hollow Nature Sanctuary consists of forested hills and valleys. Fisher’s Creek, a beautifully clear, sandy bottomed cold water stream flows through the sanctuary. The southern upland areas feature magnificent mature hardwood forests, dominated by Red Maple with many Carolinian species present. Low-lying areas along Fisher’s Creek are dominated by stands of Hemlock. The northern part of the sanctuary is a White Pine plantation with pockets of Oak Savanna vegetation, a rare vegetation community.
When HNC members visited what was to become the Spooky Hollow Nature Sanctuary as part of a club camp weekend in May 1961 they were so impressed by this magnificent tract of Carolinian forest that HNC director Marion Shivas sprang into action that very day. She learned that the owner had recently died and Marion went directly to the executors of the estate and negotiated an agreement in principal to purchase the 95 acres for $4,500, before the weekend was over! The deal was completed within two months. A bond purchased by the club in the mid 1950′s and set aside to establish a Nature Sanctuary Fund provided the down-payment and donations from club members and supporters had the mortgage paid off by September 1961. The club developed pedestrian trails at the site and carefully inventoried the flora and fauna present. In 1993, with funding support from the Ontario Heritage Foundation (now the Ontario Heritage Trust) the HNC acquired a further 70 acres located on the northwest side of the original property. This parcel had been logged and farmed in the early 1900s. In the early 1960s it was planted with white pine in plantation rows to help preserve the soil.
The Spooky Hollow Nature Sanctuary is a core area near the centre of a larger natural significant natural area of over 730 acres (333 hectares). Most of these lands and all of the nature sanctuary have been designated as a provincially significant Life Science Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (Spooky Hollow ANSI) in recognition of the diversity and quality of the habitat provided by the river valleys and sand plain uplands of the ANSI and the many rare and unusual species present. American Chestnut, an endangered species, as well as over a dozen provincially rare vascular plants, including remnants of rare sand prairie communities are found within the sanctuary. Rare birds such as the Cerulean Warbler and Red-shouldered Hawk and animals such as the Badger have also been sited. The large size of this natural area provides important interior forest habitat.
Management and Access
The HLT program coordinates ongoing volunteer management and monitoring of the sanctuary following a stewardship plan. This includes upkeep of four trails and associated bridges and boardwalks. The HNC published inventories of the flora and fauna of the sanctuary in the 1980′s. A new bridge was constructed over Fisher’s Creek in 2007.
In the summer of 2003, the HNC partnered with the Long Point Region Conservation Authority in the Long Point Region World Biosphere Reserve Ecological Monitoring Project to establish 21 dispersed permanent monitoring plots in the nature sanctuary. Tree and lichen assessments were undertaken for each plot as well as some benthic invertebrate surveys in Fisher’s Creek. The summary results of this monitoring study show that Spooky contains a high diversity of tree species and the highest diversity of Lichen species in the Long Point region. A number of invertebrate species sensitive to water quality were found, emphasizing the high quality of Fisher’s creek.
In 2012 the HNC conducted a prescribed burn and is undertaking a comprehensive survey of the endangered tree, Eastern Flowering Dogwood at the site.
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 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.