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Wildwood Pit receives OSSGA bronze plaque


September 23, 2014
By OSSGA

wildwoodSeptember 23, 2014, St. Mary’s, Ont.  — The Wildwood Pit within the Wildwood
Conservation Area joins an exclusive group of rehabilitated former gravel pits
awarded with the Ontario Stone, Sand & Gravel Association’s (OSSGA) Bronze
Plaque. The Bronze Plaque is the association’s highest honour; only 20 sites in
Ontario have earned this distinction since it was established in 1975.

September 23, 2014, St. Mary’s, Ont.  — The Wildwood Pit within the Wildwood
Conservation Area joins an exclusive group of rehabilitated former gravel pits
awarded with the Ontario Stone, Sand & Gravel Association’s (OSSGA) Bronze
Plaque. The Bronze Plaque is the association’s highest honour; only 20 sites in
Ontario have earned this distinction since it was established in 1975.

 

“This represents the best of the best among the thousands of
rehabilitated former aggregate extraction sites in the province,” said Ted
Wigdor, Chief Executive Officer of OSSGA. “The diverse ecosystem created here,
with rare plant species and habitat for snakes and turtles is why this site is
so exceptional.”

 

Wigdor pointed to other well-known public spaces that have
earned the OSSGA Bronze Plaque distinction in the past, including the Royal
Botanical Gardens in Hamilton, the Wainfleet Wetlands in Niagara, the Don
Valley Brick Works Park in Toronto and St. Marys Swimming Quarry.

 

“We are very honoured to receive this award and pleased that
the public can explore this rehabilitated gravel pit as part of the Wildwood
Lake Trail,” said Ian Wilcox, General Manager, Upper Thames River Conservation
Authority (UTRCA). “It’s an excellent example of how former pits and quarries
can create natural spaces that complement the surrounding landscape.”

 

The environmental significance of the rehabilitation work
done at the Wildwood Pit is that it created a rare tallgrass prairie
plantation, as well as a thriving fen (type of wetland) and pond that support
native plant species, amphibians and reptiles. Only one per cent of the
original tallgrass ecosystem in North America remains and almost 20% of
Ontario’s rare plant species occur in these communities. The unique assemblage
of natural heritage features at the Wildwood Pit contributes to the
biodiversity of the region and province – one of the key reasons why the Bronze
Plaque was awarded. 

 

The Bronze Plaque was affixed to a large, decorative stone
marker that was installed last week. It was inaugurated at a ceremony this
afternoon. Mayor Margaret Lupton and Councillors Ron Forbes and Marie Keasey
from the Township of Zorra Council were also on hand to celebrate the award.
The site is located in the township. Following the ceremony, the group did an
interpretive walk on the trail and boardwalk to see the fen, pond and tallgrass
habitat at its autumn peak.

 

The Wildwood Pit is situated in the Wildwood Conservation
Area (with a portion of the pit owned by a neighbouring family) and includes
hiking trails through the former gravel pit. Sand and gravel from the Wildwood
Pit was used in many local infrastructure projects in the 1960s, including
construction of the Wildwood Dam which provides flood control in the upper
watershed of the Thames river. Extraction at the site ended prior to 1971, and
rehabilitation of the pit was started by the UTRCA and the Ministry of Natural
Resources in 1996.