Puslinch councillors thanked for support of Fox Run Park trail process

ABERFOYLE – Judith Stoffman, Mary Christidis and Barbara Redmond thanked council at the July 17 session for the work to develop a trail at Fox Run Park.

Christidis said “we as a working group are here to thank council for its commitment to the walking trail established in 2019.

“We understand the timelines were very tight for such a project.”

She added council and staff have managed to keep the project on schedule so far.

“As a community, this resource is so important to the families of Fox Run Estates,” she said.

“Having an accessible walking trail and a park that is maintained is vitally important to all members of our community.

“As you may recall, the survey results from the open house indicated 41 of the 51 homes sought maintained parks as large areas of untended grasses could represent health concerns for pets, children and other residents in the community.

“The community as a whole expressed its desire to keep the area free of ground nesting bees, yellowjackets and ticks for various health reasons.”

She looks forward to “a park we can use for gatherings and events on a daily basis.”

Mayor James Seeley added, “It’s always nice to have someone come in and thank us for our work. It’s always appreciated.”

Later in the meeting council reviewed a letter from Greg Scheifele of GWS Ecological and Forestry Services Inc. about township options for vegetation management at Fox Run.

Scheifele inspected Fox Run Park on June 25 to document existing vegetation conditions in the park and adjacent lands and assess management options.

He also reviewed both local concerns and the recent conceptual accessible trail design prepared by GM Blue Plan.

Based on this information, Scheifele understood scattered plantings of trees were established in the area and a landscape contractor retained by the township periodically mows grassy portions of the site.

He noted “aside from the common ornamental lawn grasses (e.g. Canada bluegrass, perennial rye grass etc.) there was an abundance of weed species established amongst the grass.

“Without periodic mowing these weeds will certainly increase in abundance.”

Scheifele noted in some areas it is difficult to know where the boundary of the park is located.

In some areas there appears to be some homeowner  encroachments into the area.

Scheifele noted several tree species that were either planted in the park or were naturally established.

“Trees observed include black locust, bur oak, black walnut, white and red ash, silver maple, white spruce, tamarack and balsam fir,” he said.

“Three butternut trees were also noted but these trees do not warrant any special protection under the Endangered Species Act because they were planted and are hybrids.”

Scheifele summarized, “Regardless of whether the township decides to construct a recreational trail through the park a decision needs to be made on the following vegetation management options.”

He suggested two options which seemed most reasonable from an ecological and long-term cost standpoint.

The first option would be continue to mow the area but defer the first mowing to July so flowering plants are available to pollinators during the spring.

The second option would be to discontinue mowing and reforest the area with a mix of native coniferous and deciduous trees and shrubs so that they get a head start on the non-native species that will seed into the area.

He said some small patches of meadow could be left unplanted at interior locations to provide habitat diversity for wildlife and visual diversity for park users.

Scheifele also suggested adjacent homeowners should be encouraged to eradicate or at least try to control the abundance of non-native plants on their properties to help limit the spread of undesirable plants into the park.

He explained the reforestation cost will likely exceed the annual cost of mowing but once the trees are established only periodic tending will be needed to maintain good survival and growth.

Council passed a motion to receive the report for information.