The Sawyer Preservation Woodlot Association was established in 1989 and acts as a "trustee and
guardian" for a 28.61 acre wooded tract located in rural southwestern Ontario. The mandate is to manage the property so
as to maintain
the richness and diversity of the species within its boundaries and to encourage and promote stewardship of the declining wooded areas of this country. In so doing, the property is maintained as a demonstration woodlot and conservation area where the public is welcome.
Eastern Screech Owl Photo credit: Harold Burgin
The woodlot often hosts organized visits ranging from school children to the "Back Road Tours". Abundant
flora and fauna attracts a broad spectrum of individuals -- conservation specialists -- the serious nature
lover -- those simply wishing solitude. Each visit will provide a new experience. Every day is different -- each season
presents its own offering. Wildlife abounds. Residents and transients; common and rare. Each encounter provides that tingle
of excitement as one takes in what nature has to offer.
Spring Update 2017
April 14, 2017
An early season inspection of the woodlot provided a very encouraging portal. Visitation day was sunny, 20C, light winds — very positive when you look back at the ups & downs of the previous 4+ months.
There was considerable wildlife activity — ducks, squirrels, lots of small birds, and even some orange butterflies. The most notable were the large red-capped pileated woodpeckers. At least 6 were counted with 2 nesting sites identified — one in a willow by the stream, and the other in the northeast corner of the woodlot. After being casual visitors for the past couple of years, perhaps they are going to become permanent residents. There was no evidence of wild turkey but a few deer tracks were present. And yes, some gnats and a few files put in an appearance, but you can still leave the insect repellant at home for a few more weeks.
In 2014, 30 trees were planted in the mid-section of the woodlot. The white pines have been thriving. Several of them produced 18"-24" of new growth over last season. The winter snow load did impact them and some could benefit from guy-strings to bring them back to vertical.
|April 14, 2017
||April 21, 2014
As for the hemlocks, they have wintered well and also have shown good growth over 3 years, but not as dramatic as the pines. A few have encountered issues with their leaders probably as a result of snow/ice damage in a previous winter — but they are healthy and thriving. As for the tamaracks, they do not put their best face forward at this time of the year, but are budding and will provide a better image in a few weeks. They too are thriving and have more than doubled their height. Of the 30 trees planted, the mortality count appears to be 2.
The perimeter trails (Highland, Ash & Brookside) are clear and in good condition with only a few minor wet spots. As is typical at this time of the year, the Lowland trail is not passable due to flooding. In a couple of locations the trail is blocked by fallen debris that will be removed once drying occurs. Hillside 1 & 2 trails both have wet-to-flooded sections.
As for fallen trees, no major occurrences, but numerous smaller dead ash trees have left the vertical. A number of them have tipped into other stands and need to be brought to the ground for the benefit of the other trees. In general, it looks like our tree casualty rate has declined dramatically. Perhaps we can now focus more on the living rather than the dying. We will still have ongoing tree pruning for woodlot safety and tree health.
The years following the hickory and ash die-off will produce dramatic changes. A younger tree population now exists and much more light is getting in. We will see species take hold that have been dormant for years. Mother Nature will set the course. Your association will hold her hand moving forward.
New Woodlot Threat
Dog Strangling Vine — Black Swallowwort and Pale Swallowwort
In the mid-1800's, these two look-alike members of the milkweed family were introduced to the northeastern United States for use in gardens. Recent years have seen the species propagate rapidly and now pose a major threat to areas in southern and central Ontario, as well as the northeastern United States.
The plants form large communities and collectively over-run and choke out native vegetation along fence lines, stream banks, roadsides and wooded areas. Due to their similarity to milkweed, the Monarch Butterfly will lay their eggs on the plant, but these eggs will not survive — thus having a highly negative effect on the Monarch population.
The local hot spot is the Thames River Valley in and around St. Marys which means that it will soon (if not already) be in our woodlot. It is spread easily by the wind, but more significantly by human contact -- such as attaching to boots, clothing, ATV's etc. It also sends up new shoots from roots and damaged areas. Although chemicals such as Roundup are fairly effective, the plants locations do cause control challenges.
For more information, download the Dog Strangling Vine Factsheet.(2 pages — 681 kbytes)