Located in the community of Waterdown within the City of Hamilton, Joe Sams Leisure Park is a recreation park where Conservation Halton carried out a restoration project to create wildlife habitat, increase biodiversity and restore the natural features and functions of Grindstone Creek where it runs through the park.
Like much of the surrounding area, Joe Sams Leisure Park used to be an agricultural property. Today, the area provides recreation for the community with sports fields, walking paths, a playground and a dog park. Joe Sams Park also has a number of natural areas, including meadows, wetlands and 2 km section of Grindstone Creek. City of Hamilton has been working to protect and enhance these natural areas at Joe Sams Park, and they have partnered with Conservation Halton to support with restoration to the creek and forest habitat areas.
The restoration at Joe Sams Park has been possible through many grants and partnerships. In addition to partnering with the City of Hamilton, Conservation Halton worked with students from the Ecosystem Restoration program at Niagara College on creek restoration and invasive plant management. Throughout the project, we worked with the Waterdown Lions Club to plant trees, and with a number of corporate partners to plant trees and shrubs, and remove invasive species, like Common Buckthorn.
Grindstone Creek is impacted by a number of issues due to agricultural, residential and industrial development in the surrounding. For instance, a healthy creek should be deep and narrow with a meandering shape and strong banks, and without sediment. The section of Grindstone Creek that runs through Joe Sams Park was altered many decades ago, which has caused it to become too wide and straight, with eroded banks, in that area. In order to correct these alterations, Conservation Halton planted hundreds of trees and shrubs on the creek bank and used discarded Christmas trees to narrow the creek and prevent erosion.
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“Invasive species” are plants, animals or pathogens that are introduced, either intentionally or accidentally, to an area where they are non-native, and have negative environmental effects. These species often spread quickly because it they are able to adapt to a variety of habitat conditions and often lack the natural control of predators.
Conservation Halton identified more than 30 invasive species of plants at Joe Sams Park, including trees, shrubs, wildflowers, and grasses. If they are not managed, these species will continue to spread throughout the natural areas of the park. Conservation Halton is working with the City of Hamilton to reduce the amount of invasive plant species at Joe Sams Park through “integrative vegetation management.” With this approach, invasive plants will be removed by hand, tools and machines. Some of the more stubborn species will be treated by a licensed pesticide applicator. After the invasive species are removed, we will plant native species will and use rocks, logs, mulch and other natural debris to prevent the invasive species from returning.
The Emerald Ash Borer is an invasive wood-boring beetle that has decimated Ash trees across North America. The Ash trees at Joe Sams have succumb to the Ash Borer and dead and dying trees line the creek. The loss of canopy opens the understory to the spread of invasive plants and fallen trees result in debris jams in the creek.
Conservation Halton is working with the City of Hamilton to clear log jams and plant native trees to replace the loss of the Ash. We are also adding trees and shrubs to areas of the park that have been left to naturalize. The floodplains will also benefit from more native wildflowers, grasses and willow and dogwood along the creek banks. A boost in plant diversity will support local wildlife and improve ecological linkages and assist in the successional naturalization of the park.
Conservation Halton has raised funds and organized planting workdays to plant hundreds of native trees and shrubs and spread native seeds along the creek bank.
Conservation Halton is working with landowners in the Grindstone Watershed to assist with habitat improvement projects on their property. If you are a landowner who is interested in a restoration project visit our landowner environmental assistance page