BERWICK – With wood-chipped trails to a new cedar wetland viewing platform, South National Conservation (SNC) officially unveiled its trail improvements Friday at the Warwick Forest Conservation Area.
The 1,600 acre forest on County Road 9, east of Berwick, is a mix of land owned by South Nation Conservation, the United Counties and the Province of Ontario. It’s one of the biggest blocks of contiguous forest SNC manages.
Warwick Forest is roughly 30 per cent pine, 40 per cent spruce and a balance of other species. There are roughly 8,600 acres of SNC managed forest in SD&G.
Officials and reporters climbed aboard a truck and trailer for a guided tour. The improvements include an interpretative trail with markings along the way as the tour wound its way through the first kilometer of the trail.
“And if you see right there, sign number two – Fire Pond – as part of the trail improvements we have updated the interpretation of some of this trail and there are nine points of interest and that just occurs on the south part of the Warwick Forest,” said Jim Hendry, SNC forestry team leader.
Fire Pond was built in 1950.
The beginnings of the Warwick Forest date back to the 1920s when the province would assist municipalities and conservation authorities by selling delinquent lands at 25 or 50 cents on the dollar.
The conservation area is on a shallow base of rubicon sand, which is great for growing trees but not for cash crops or other agriculture use, Hendry explained.
A little over a kilometer into the six kilometer loop, officials used hammers to drive the ceremonial last spike in a new cedar viewing platform, overlooking a wetland, complete with wood duck nesting boxes.
“South Nation staff built this – Phil (Duncan) and Mike (Michel Leger) – start to finish. What they started with was just an old little platform … and created this, which is very accessible for a lot of users,” Hendry said.
He added there may be plans for a pond at the wetland area but some beaver activity downstream may actually create it for them.
There’s also a bridge being built on a north section of the trail and barriers to prevent trucks from destroying the trail.
Forest management is also part of the ongoing work at the conservation area.
The SDG section of the Warwick Forest Conservation Area has a stand of old-growth red pine. Hendry said roughly half of the trees will be harvested.
“When we do forest management we manage in groups of five. So the next five year operating plan is coming up and this site will be part of that harvest plan,” he said.
Harvesting is a revenue generator too with a banner year this year of $50,000 through forest management. A typical year is around $10,000, Hendry said.
“SD&G is thrilled to continue such a great partnership with South Nation Conservation. As you know this a popular recreational attraction for hikers, bird enthusiasts, geocachers and horseback riding. We are happy to offer these users a safe and improved trail system,” said Jamie MacDonald, incoming warden for SD&G.
Click on a photo below to open a gallery of photos from the tour.