Kinghurst Forest Area of Natural and Scientific Interest

By Clarke Birchard

July 2006

Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSIs) are areas of land and water containing natural landscapes or features that have been identified by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources as having provincially or regionally significant values related to protection, natural heritage appreciation, scientific study or education.

There are over 150 ANSIs in Grey and Bruce counties, the greatest concentration of any similar sized area in Ontario. A number of years ago the MNR provided SFN with copies of the ANSI reports for Grey and Bruce to assist us in the planning of outings, to increase our understanding and to assist us with the monitoring and protection of special natural features of the area. The writer of this article keeps these reports, sorted by townships. Members may borrow reports for one-month periods by calling 519-363-2719, picking them up at the next regular club meeting and returning them at the following meeting.

The Kinghurst Forest Nature Reserve (KFNR) bequeathed to the Federation of Ontario Naturalists (FON), now Ontario Nature (ON), by Howard Krug in 1997 is included in the Kinghurst Forest Life Science ANSI. The Nature Reserve is just under 283 ha (700 acres) in size. About 142 ha (350 acres) are within the much larger 427 ha (1055 acres) ANSI.

Kinghurst Forest area was identified and studied as a provincially significant ANSI representative of natural vegetation’s response to till moraine uplands associated with the Horseshoe Moraines. The topography is moderately to steeply rolling with kettle depressions holding woodland ponds, open bog, and swamp forest. The forested highland separates drainage into the North Saugeen and Styx Rivers, both tributaries of the Saugeen River.

Most of the ANSI is a large upland forest complex dominated by Sugar Maple and American Beech with White Ash, Basswood, Black Cherry associates. About half of the Krug bequest is mature forest resembling what the forests of Grey County looked like at the time of the arrival of the settlers. Some trees are over 33 meters (100 ft) tall and it is estimated that some are 250 years old. It is one of the largest areas of mature upland forest in southern Ontario.

The forest community supports a diverse, high quality, well-developed herbaceous ground cover with extensive areas of spring wildflowers and a high percentage of the fern species found in Grey and Bruce.

Other natural communities represented in the nature reserve and the ANSI are an open fen complex, coniferous / deciduous forest on wet soils, treed bog, shallow lake and kettle ponds, swamp and two pine plantations.

The Saugeen Field Naturalists Club is fortunate to be the local stewards of the KFNR. We provide  regular monitoring and with the assistance of the Ontario Stewardship Rangers and several Working for Wilderness crews our volunteers have done a great deal of work in the reserve in recent years. Old tires and fence wire have been removed, a dump has been cleaned up, trails cleared and marked, maps prepared and posted and a parking area created and fenced. Best of all we have had the pleasure of numerous outings for our own club and have hosted and lead many outings for visiting groups.

Reference: MNR Fact Sheet, March 1993. Kinghurst Forest Life Science Area of Natural and Scientific Interest.

“Bring nothing but silence

Show nothing but grace

Seek nothing but shelter

From the great human race

Take nothing but pictures

Kill nothing but time

Leave nothing but footprints

To show you came by”

John Kay

(thanks to Gay Marshall for sending along this quotation)

At the last Huron Fringe Birding Festival, I met a birder who confided that that would be her last Spring. I was so moved that I wrote a poem. At the recent festival I learned that she passed away last October. This is what the poem is about. Minerva Cook (July 2006)


I must hear

and see

every bird

that could be,

the bluebird’s colour across the meadow,

the woodthrush’s song made in heaven,

the oriole’s flash of orange among tree tops,

the veery’s notes of haunting beauty.

The yellow warbler knows

to live hour by hour

as he and his mate

fervently hunt

to fill tiny gaping mouths.

He doesn’t worry about

perils ahead or whether

he will return next Spring.

I quietly whisper a farewell

knowing I won’t be back.

High in the sky

the red-tailed hawk

rides air currents

free and buoyant

close to heaven

far from earth.

My soul connects

and covets freedom

from my body failing

much before its time.

Also soaring up high

but drifting closer,

a turkey vulture

dressed in black

searches for carrion.

I shiver and look away.

Swiftly, I drift back

to my present world,

tell my birding friends,

“I’m ready to go”.

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