November 2014 – The Conservancy received a donation of a neighboring piece of land which increased the size of the Blackburn Lake Nature Reserve from 32.6 acres to 38.4 acres. This was a generous gift from an anonymous donor, made in remembrance of their spouse. This lovely upland forest and wetland area is crucial habitat for the reserve’s thriving population of the Northern Red-Legged Frog, as well as important habitat for other species. What a wonderful turn of events!
March 2015 – The reserve grows again! Through a special agreement with another neighbor, 7 acres were added to the nature reserve, resulting in a total of 45.6 acres. The new area includes lakeshore and the lake’s outgoing stream. The reserve now contains all the streams entering and leaving Blackburn Lake.
History – Farming and Golf Course
From 1850 onwards, the land was used for agriculture. Then it was a 9-hole organic golf course, until it became a nature reserve.
Conservancy Opens New Facility – June 2015
The energy-efficient facility is an incredible gift from a single anonymous donor – for public education, meeting space and offices. We also thank the many volunteers who contributed hundreds of hours to help with construction.
Wetlands Restoration – September 2016
The first wetlands restoration began in 2014. Tom Biebighauser, a restoration expert who has built over 1600 wetlands throughout North America, guided SSIC staff and volunteers in developing a plan for the entire reserve. This plan identified potential wetland restoration projects designed to increase the diversity of the grassy areas where few native species are currently found. These restoration projects will increase habitat for the native plants and animals which are already found on the reserve including the rare Northern Red-legged Frog and Little Brown Bat. Restoration will also help the land to filter water before it reaches the lake, as wetlands allow water to soak into the land and stop the soil from being washed downstream.
The first site chosen used to be a wetland that was probably drained and filled during the creation of the golf course. With funding provided by six different agencies, the first stage of restoration work was completed. The new wetland was dug and the spider web of buried drain pipes was lifted out. The pool was shaped with gradually sloped edges to prevent erosion and create a natural looking depression. The wetland was covered with clay which was compacted to prevent the water from leaking out and all of the excavated topsoil was placed on top of the clay to help native plants grow. Downed logs were placed in the wetland to provide hiding places for frogs and resting sites for dragonflies. A small snag was stood upright at the edge of the wetland to provide a perch for birds. Seeds from native sedges and rushes were collected from plants growing nearby and scattered over the surface followed by heavy layers of barley straw to stop the thistles and other weeds from invading the bare soil. Also, hundreds of native shrubs and flowers were planted by dedicated volunteers.
Based on the experience and success of 2014, a second larger wetland and extension of smaller ponds were completed closer to the lake in 2015. The same careful process was utilized and again many native shrubs were planted by dedicated volunteers.
Our third wetland restoration has begun. Visit our reserve to see the process in action! Thomas Biebighauser returned in October and a week of construction and restoration ensued. Mulching has been completed and wetland planting is planned for late October. Thank-you to all our funders for this wonderful opportunity to better the habitat for our lake friends!