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The Wallaceburg Paw Paw Woods is one of Chatham-Kent’s newest public access nature trails. Just a few minutes walk from downtown Wallaceburg, this small Carolinian woodlot offers the opportunity to provide local natural heritage education and tours in an easily accessible location.


The property had come into the possession of the Municipality of Chatham-Kent through failed-tax-sale. Having the foresight to recognize the potential asset to the community, councillor Sheldon Parsons proactively approached Sydenham Field Naturalists (SFN) to identify any points of interest. While doing the initial assessment, we found a well established Paw Paw thicket. Paw Paw being a small uncommon tree species in Canada, and in the northern part of its range in the Carolinian zone of Ontario. This alone being enough to advocate conservation, the Sydenham Field Naturalists began to develop ideas surrounding ecological restoration, interpretive potential and connectivity to other local features.


In the Fall of 2009, Eric Fields of North Eastern Seed Company volunteered his expertise to create partnerships and develop a management plan with a core group, as a sub-committee of the Sydenham Field Naturalists for the newly named Wallaceburg Paw Paw Woods.


To participate in an “Earth Week” celebration throughout Wallaceburg, Dawne Mudford and Eric Fields hosted a CITO (Cache In Trash Out) event. On April 24, 2010 in partnership with 4-H “Walk on the Wild Side”, Chatham-Kent Geo-Cacher’s, the Wallaceburg Beautification Team, the Municipality of Chatham-Kent and the H.W Burgess – Environmental Club, the SFN event removed more than two dump truck loads of refuse, including tires, old railroad ties, striped wire insulation, even a car bumper and a sofa.


Eric MacDonald arranged a group of volunteers from his management staff at Aecon, as well as, donation of equipment rental from Battlefield Equipment Rentals to re-grade and define the new trails. On July 10, 2010 Aecon and SFN held a work party/ Bar-B-Q at Wallaceburg Paw Paw Woods, with an amazing turn out of support. Volunteers, with Aecon’s invaluable help, were able to re-grade all of the identified primary trails, rid the bush of a myriad of garden debris, install “No Dumping” and “No Motorized Vehicle” signage from the Municipality and fill in some hazardous holes dug by teen BMXer’s.


The secondary entrance did not have signage installed and dumping of garden waste was on-going in this area. This spurred the need to raise duplicate signs at this entrance as well, to inform local residents that this was no longer an acceptable way to depose of yard waste. While installing the signs some native shrubs were planted around the primary entrance to the woodlot.


In the Fall of 2010 through the leadership of Tom Chatterton and Tony Van Eerd a number of native Spicebush shrubs were planted throughout the bush. These plantings will help to increase the diversity of the under story layer and provide great food and habitat for locally adapted wildlife.


The Wallaceburg Paw Paw Woods is still in the initial phases of its re-development and needs volunteers to help with a number of different tasks. New volunteers are always welcomed and encouraged!


For more photos of our work in this project, see our photo gallery.

For photos taken by our club member, Herman Giethoorn, of the species found on this property follow this link to Wallaceburg Paw Paw Woods.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/hgiethoorn/sets/72157626803823764/with/5758834816/

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