On Saturday afternoon of November 7 an enthusiastic group of naturalists met Jo-Anne Harbinson and Jim Penner of Saugeen Conservation at the Allen Park Management Unit for an outing that had been rained out in September and rescheduled.
Jo-Anne led us to the tall grass prairie plot that was created under the Hydro One Bruce to Milton Biodiversity Initiative. She explained that in 2011 the Lambton Stewardship Council seeded the 2- acre plot with a variety of grasses and flower species typical of tall grass prairie. In 2015 Lands and Forests Consulting conducted a controlled burn to reduce the biomass and assist with getting rid of invasive species. Intermittent fires are a natural part of the ecology of prairies. We were amazed to see what has emerged from the char. Spectacular shoulder-high stands of big bluestem, little bluestem, Canada wild rye grass, Indian grass and switch grass were but a few that we were able to identify in their autumn finery. Among the dominant grasses we could see the ripe seed heads and remains of sunflower, goldenrod, milkweed and other species. This plot deserves future visits in spring and summer.
Jim Penner led us along a narrow seldom-used side road to the south portion of the MU and assured us that we would not get stuck. Naturalists get excited when we pass signs that say “No Maintenance”. On the way to our destination we were impressed by the rugged terrain and ecological diversity of the area. Jim pointed out the results of forest management techniques that had been applied to plantations and hardwood stands at various times in the past. He explained the goals, processes, history and possible future management of each area. As the old say goes “a good time was had by all”.