Tales from Durham: Get to know the Oak Ridges Moraine

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Tales from Durham is a blog series focused on the people and places that make Durham’s Greenbelt great. The series will cover everything from local businesses, to seasonal events, to life on Durham farms. Look out for our upcoming posts to stay up-to-date and informed on exciting going-ons in Durham's Greenbelt. 

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On a sunny Wednesday in May I toured one of Canada’s most breathtaking and ecologically important landforms - the 195,000 hectare Oak Ridges Moraine.

My tour guides? Two Moraine experts - Cindy Sutch, Chairperson of Ontario’s Save the Oak Ridges Moraine Coalition (STORM), and Councillor Heather Stauble, City of Kawartha Lakes Councillor and chairperson of Kawartha Conservation.

My generous guides led me through this Durham Region treasure; it was an eye opening experience.

The Moraine stretches 160 kilometers from the Niagara Escarpment in the west to the Trent River system in the east  - so I obviously couldn't take it all in in one day.  I did, however, get a magnificent view of the Moraine from the Fleetwood Creek Conservation Area lookout

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My awesome Oak Ridges Moraine Tour Guides, Heather Stabler (left) and Cindy Sutch (right)

Looking out over the forests, rolling hills, and the fresh springs of the Moraine I felt engulfed by natural beauty.  

I also felt grateful that the lookout existed at all. What is now the Fleetwood Creek Conservation Area was once destined to become a gravel pit. Fortunately, in 1985, the Ontario Heritage Trust acquired the area through the generous cash donation of Mrs. Hilda Pangman. It's now a destination for hikers, families, and nature lovers.

In fact, many people, and many organizations, have worked hard to make sure that the Oak Ridges Moraine is protected and maintained. Thanks in large part to the work of these Oak Ridges Moraine champions, a land use plan to protect the area, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, was enacted in 2002 by the Ontario Government. 

It’s a good thing! Not only does the Oak Ridges Moraine contain headwaters of 65 rivers and streams, provide habitat for hundreds of wildlife species, and contain nutrient-rich soil for Greenbelt farmers, it also acts as southern Ontario’s water filtration system. The Moraine’s layers of sand and gravel hold onto and purify the water that over 250,000 Ontarians depend on directly! 

I encourage you to grab your hiking shoes and get to know your Moraine! It’s rolling hills, deep valleys, and lush forests are well worth the visit. The Durham East Cross Forest, Ganaraska Forest, Pigeon River Headwaters, and Windy Ridge are some great places to check out. 

Check out greenbelt.ca/walks to start planning your trip and stay tuned for the second round of provincial consultations on Ontario's four land use plans for an opportunity to have your say on the importance of this ecological treasure. 

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LIZZIE CLARKE
--Communications Assistant, Durham Region

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