Former gravel pit in Otonabee-South Monaghan Township now a conservation area

A former gravel pit in Otonabee-South Monaghan Township is now a conservation and recreational area, Otonabee Conservation has announced, and may soon be open to the public.

The gravel pit licence for the pit property near Crowley Line and Rosa Landing Road in the township, about 12 kilometres south of the city, was recently surrendered by the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Natural Resources and Forestry, and the land is now being managed by Otonabee Conservation, which has owned it since 1977.

“We look forward to protecting the natural habitats, diverse species, and surrounding sensitive ecological features of this property,” stated Jessie James, manager of conservation lands at Otonabee Conservation, in a press release Wednesday.

“We will be managing this site for conservation purposes and recreational pursuits such as hiking and birdwatching,” she said.

The main purpose of the 1977 acquisition by Otonabee Conservation was to conserve a section of wetland shoreline on the Otonabee River and to provide a site to develop a conservation area after the aggregate was depleted from the pit on the property.

Aggregate extraction has been inactive in the licensed pit since the late 1990s and, since then, the area has naturally regenerated with many biophysical features including functional wetlands that provide homes to a variety of flora and fauna, said the release.

Recently, the Ontario government decided that the property in its current state provides ecological value for the adjacent Otonabee Midriver Complex Provincially Significant Wetland and as a species-at-risk habitat, in particular for nesting turtles.

Further rehabilitation work will not be necessary because most of the licensed area of the property has naturally regenerated over time. This has been an objective of many past Otonabee Conservation boards, according to the release.

There are plans to open the area to visitors, with more information becoming available in the coming months.

Otonabee Conservation covers eight municipalities located either entirely, or partly, within the Otonabee Region watershed: the City of Peterborough, parts of the City of Kawartha Lakes along with Selwyn, Cavan Monaghan, Asphodel-Norwood, Douro-Dummer, Otonabee-South Monaghan and Trent Hills townships.

Its mandate is to protect, restore and manage the natural resources within its regional watershed, which it does by protecting drinking water sources, warning about flooding, conserving lands and natural resources, and providing spaces for camping, canoeing, caving, fishing and hiking.

Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.

Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner