The South March Highlands (SMH) is an urban forest in Kanata North. Despite being home to many species-at-risk, including the Butternut tree, Blanding's Turtle and Least Bittern (a small heron), and adjacent to a designated Provincially Significant Wetland (PSW), it is to be razed for home development. The portion of the SMH immediately north of the Beaver Pond (a picture of which - looking south - has graced the top of this blog from the start) was razed five years ago, and now sits forlorn, like a moonscape. Nevertheless, the developer, KNL, now wants to push on and raze the remaining areas of the original development tract in order to construct a residential development. Before they can do so, KNL must convince Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) that its plan will provide a net benefit to these three species under the Endangered Species Act, even as KNL seeks a permit to:
- Remove up to 120 Butternut trees occurring on the 140 hectare () site as well as damage and destroy the habitat of these trees;
- Kill, harm and harass Blanding’s Turtle as well as destroy up to 124 hectares of Blanding’s Turtle habitat; and
- Kill, harm and harass Least Bittern as well as damage up to 10.9 hectares of Least Bittern habitat.
Citizens from Kanata and across the Ottawa area have been working for years to protect the SMH. Its destruction would also affect many other rare, threatened and endangered species and local streams, and affect storm water management, possibly leading to future local flooding.
The MNR needs to hear from the community at large, so please submit a comment by February 17 to let them know you too want this area protected.
You can find out more about the South March Highlands from these references:
- On the history of the fight to save the South March Highlands, and why there is still time to do the right thing.
- On the habitat, geology and history of the SMH, sometimes called Ottawa's Great Forest.
- On the MNR process, and in particular why the proposal page doesn't actually identify how KNL intends to create a net benefit to these three species.