Eramosa Karst Master Plan - Hamilton Conservation Authority



Eramosa Karst Master Plan - Hamilton Conservation Authority
Table of Contents
Page No.
Executive Summary
Public Participation
1.3.1 General Public
1.3.2 Steering Committee and Advisory Board
Issues, Opportunities, and Constraints
Goal and Objectives
Values of the Eramosa Karst Conservation Area
Master Plan
Conservation Area Classification
Conservation Area Zoning
Public Use Program Options
Carrying Capacity/Monitoring
Master Plan Concept
Management Plan and Implementation Guidelines
5.6.1 The Natural Zone
5.6.2 Resource Management Zone
5.6.3 Development Zone
5.6.4 Cultural Heritage Zone
5.6.5 Developed Area of the Eramosa Karst ANSI
5.6.6 Feeder Area of the Eramosa Karst ANSI
5.6.7 EKCA Connection to Olmsted Cave
Liability and Risk Management
Estimates of Cost
Funding Sources
Development Phasing
Boundary of Eramosa Karst ANSI
Eramosa Karst Management Zones
Eramosa Karst Master Plan Concept
Executive Summary
The Hamilton Conservation Authority develops master plans for all its land holdings.
Careful consideration is given to the wise management of the land’s natural and cultural
resources, and opportunities for people to enjoy the land are explored.
The 78 hectares (192.7 acres) of the Eramosa Karst Conservation Area (EKCA) is a
unique landscape in Ontario. Karst is a landscape in which the topography is chiefly
formed by the dissolving of rock and which may be characterized by sinkholes (dolines),
sinking streams, caves, and subterranean drainage, as well as surface drainage. These
features found within the EKCA present exceptional opportunities for environmental
education.. This land holding will also provide a much needed passive recreational park
for the east end of Hamilton, provided the sensitive nature of the karst landscape and its
associated ecology are conserved.
The EKCA Master Plan proposes a visitor kiosk to interpret the karst landscape, site
ecology, and cultural heritage features. From the visitor kiosk and associated parking
area, a system of trails will guide park patrons to a wide range of identified site features.
The estimated cost of implementing the recommendations contained in the EKCA Master
Plan is $ 750,000.
1.0 Background
1.1 Purpose
The purpose of the Eramosa Karst Conservation Area Master Plan is to provide a
document that will guide the Hamilton Conservation Authority in the
development and management of this conservation area. Although this master
plan presents a vision for the ultimate design and use of the site it is important to
review the plan periodically to ensure, through site monitoring, that the goal and
objectives are still being met.
1.2 Preamble
Karst is a landscape, generally underlain by limestone or dolomite, in which the
topography is chiefly formed by the dissolving of rock and which may be
characterized by dolines, sinking streams, caves, and subterranean drainage.
The Eramosa Karst ANSI *(Area of Natural and Scientific Interest) is located in
the City of Hamilton just south of the Niagara Escarpment in the former City of
Stoney Creek. It is largely bounded by Highland, Rymal, and Upper Mount
Albion roads and Second Road West. A small portion of “developed area”
extends north of Highland Road and a larger portion of the “feeder area” (karst
headwaters) lies south of Rymal Road. Refer to Figure # 2.
* Buck, M. J., Worthington, S.R.H., Ford, D.C., Earth Science Inventory and
Evaluation of the Eramosa Karst Area of Natural and Scientific Interest, Ontario
Ministry of Natural Resources, April 2003
The Eramosa Karst sits on the Eramosa Escarpment south of the Niagara
Escarpment as noted above. The smaller Eramosa Escarpment is shaped with a
steep north-facing scarp slope and a slighter south-facing slope. It is composed of
dolostone of the Eramosa member, which is the top portion of the Lockport
Formation. The Niagara Escarpment is also capped by dolostone giving it a
similar morphology. Close to the crest of both the Niagara and Eramosa
Escarpments the overburden is thinner and bedrock is exposed in places. Surface
runoff flowing over the bedrock and down fractures has produced solution
features. Small-scale solution features are common along the crest of the Niagara
Escarpment however, at this ANSI site the solutional enlargement of the bedrock
fractures has proceeded to the stage where several surface creeks disappear into
sinkholes in the bedrock. These creeks flow along underground conduits for up to
several hundred metres before emerging at springs at the base of the Eramosa
The Eramosa Karst Conservation Area (EKCA) is comprised of the 78 hectares
(192.7 acres) of land containing the ANSI “core area”, “buffer area”, and much of
the “feeder area” north of Rymal Road. In October 2006, 73 hectares (180.5
acres) this tract of land was
conveyed to the Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) by the Ontario Realty
Corporation under the direction of the provincial government. In April, 2007, the
Ontario Government announced that an additional 3.1 hectares (7.7 acres) of
adjacent land at the corner of Upper Mount Albion Road and Highland Road
would be transferred to the HCA . In June, 2007, the City of Hamilton agreed to
transfer approximately 1.6 hectares (3.9 acres) to the HCA
The Eramosa Karst was confirmed as a provincially significant earth science
ANSI in February 2003 by the Province of Ontario. Features justifying this
designation include: Soil pipes, a high concentration of dolines (sinkholes) and
sinking streams, overflow sinks, dry valleys, and a postglacial stream cave of
significant length (i.e. 344 metres). Each of these features is considered the best
example of its type in Ontario.
Furthermore, a natural areas inventory was conducted during 2000 and 2001
identifying a variety of vascular plants, reptiles, amphibians, nesting birds,
mammals, and butterflies. Archaeological assessments in 2002 and 2005
identified 2 sites of archaeological interest. There are also several old stone
foundations related to past homestead activities on the property.
The City of Hamilton plans to designate the Eramosa Karst ANSI lands as an
Environmentally Significant Area (ESA) in the future for the following reasons:
• Significant Earth Science Feature - includes provincially significant earth
science features.
• Significant Hydrologic Function – the caves, underground streams and
sinkholes serve an important hydrological function.
1.3 Public Participation
General Public
On November 6, 2006 a Public Open House was held at the Winterberry
Heights Church on Winterberry Drive, Stoney Creek. It was presented in
a drop-in format with a presentation of the draft master plan. Generally,
comments in written and verbal form were positive regarding the proposed
development and management of the Eramosa Karst Conservation Area.
In addition the preparation of the master plan was advertised in the local
paper and on the HCA’s website.
Steering Committee and Conservation Areas Advisory Board
A Steering Committee was struck to oversee the development of the
EKCA Master Plan. Members of the Conservation Areas Advisory Board
(CAAB) and key HCA staff comprised this committee. Additional input
was sought from the Ontario Realty Corporation and the City of Hamilton.
The CAAB is an appointed group of volunteers along with a few
representatives of the HCA Board of Directors that meets bi-monthly to
review staff plans and recommendations. This advisory board has also
provided direction for the EKCA project throughout the planning process.
CAAB recommendations are approved by the HCA Board of Directors.
Issues, Opportunities, and Constraints
The Eramosa Karst Conservation Area encompasses a unique landscape underlain
by dolostone bedrock supporting underground drainage with many caves and
conduits caused by dissolving rock. The Eramosa Karst contains examples of 16
distinct karst features. Although there are examples of all these elsewhere in
Ontario, seven of the feature types were evaluated by the MNR to be the best
examples known in the province. Furthermore, some of these features are not
well represented elsewhere within Ontario’s system of parks and conservation
The Eramosa Karst Conservation Area is also home to some uncommon plant
and animal species. Archaeological investigations, have identified two sites in the
western section of the property. One site consists of a mid-19th century EuroCanadian homestead and a pre-contact campsite and the other is a pre-contact
campsite. In addition, there are three stone foundations that remain from former
farm buildings on a former homestead on the property.
Public education, nature/culture appreciation, scientific research, and
recreational opportunities are substantial for the many citizens that will
surround the subject site over the next few years as urban development
continues to engulf the area. The site’s close proximity for many residents
will provide a much needed passive recreational park for this east end of
The Karst will be linked to Felker’s Falls and Mount Albion Conservation
Areas, city parkland, and the Bruce Trail by a new 10 kilometre East
Mountain Loop Trail.
The potential exists to provide other pedestrian links from adjacent
properties; e.g. neighbourhood access at various points and access to the
City of Hamilton park containing the Olmsted Cave, approximately 300
metres from the Conservation Area.
Many elementary and secondary schools will be afforded the advantage of
its earth science, cultural, and botanical/zoological resources. Nine
universities are located within 2 hours driving distance, consequently, the
potential is great for scientific learning, monitoring, and research.
The suburban location has some disadvantages. Encroachment is apparent
at several points around the perimeter of the site. Some residences have
extended their rear yards into the site, others have mowed extensive trails
into the recently abandoned farm fields, and a few refuse dump sites have
been found. Vandals have also spray-painted the dolostone walls of the
City’s Olmsted Cave. Management techniques should address these
In December, 2004, a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment was conducted for
the Eramosa Karst ANSI lands involving a records review, site inspection,
interviews, and a thorough assessment of collected data. No actual or potential
site contamination was identified.
Carrying capacity has been defined as the ability for something to absorb outside
influence and still retain its essence. Carrying capacity is achieving a balance
whereby the environmental/cultural essence or quality of a particular place is
preserved while a certain level of use is met. Carrying capacity is an integral
component in the development and implementation of the Eramosa Karst
Conservation Area Master Plan and thus this site’s role in education, recreation,
and tourism must be balanced. As a matter of policy the HCA will ensure that
any developments proposed in the plan adhere to federal, provincial, and
municipal legislation and regulations.
Within the 2000/2001 natural areas inventory, 24 of the 94 vascular plant species
recorded were non-native. Examples include Common Buckthorn and Garlic
Mustard along with the native Ragweed which are highlighted as nuisance plants.
Consideration should be given to developing a management strategy that will
reduce the spread of these invasive species.
Goal and Objectives
3.1 Goal
The goal is to develop and manage the Eramosa Karst Conservation Area in
a manner that will protect the karst landscape, its associated flora and fauna,
and cultural heritage features while providing the public with learning and
passive outdoor recreational opportunities.
3.2 Objectives
To realize this goal the following objectives have been adopted:
A. To protect and enhance the site’s geomorphological and ecological
environments. This will involve upstream storm water management, landform
rehabilitation, and the utilization of landscape ecological principles to enhance
vegetative re-establishment and wildlife habitat.
B. To provide interpretive facilities to assist environmental learning at various
levels – from elementary school children to university students.
C. To provide passive outdoor recreational and nature appreciation opportunities
in concert with site conservation and education.
D. To monitor the karst landscape and natural environment to ensure the
sustainability of the site features and its programs of use.
E. To protect and conserve the cultural heritage features for their inherent value
and depiction of the long-term human use of the area.
Values of the Eramosa Karst Conservation Area
The EKCA is a unique landscape in Ontario and consists of a topography formed
in dolostone, comprising depressions and holes, with underground drainage as
well as surface streams. The EKCA is therefore, composed of 2 landscapes
interconnected through a series of structures and dynamic processes. One of the
landscapes is relatively accessible, the visible surface landscape and the other is
the subsurface cave landscape, the majority of which is unexplored or
inaccessible. While the surface streams have readily defined drainage
catchments, most of these streams are pirated underground as they flow across the
karst. The streams typically sink into caves and dolines, then follow caves and
conduits in the subsurface to where they resurge at springs. Each of these springs
has its own drainage catchment, and these catchments can only be determined
through tracer studies. Often, their catchments deviate significantly from their
apparent surface catchments as defined by topography. As such, the subsurface
streams may cross surface drainage divides and flow in the opposite direction to
the general topographic slope. The EKCA’s geomorphology has created
distinctive microclimates, flora and fauna, and patterns of hydrology, all of which
are interesting as specific elements but more so as interconnected biotic and
abiotic systems.
Below is a chart noting the “desired outcomes” from a list of identified “values”
for the Eramosa Karst. These outcomes are consistent with the master plan
recommendations that follow.
-A healthy karst environment.
-All educational and recreational activities
are undertaken on the basis of environmental
monitoring and review.
-Program viability through visitor
-Effective communication and action
between all stakeholders.
Karst diversity
-Karst diversity conserved and managed.
-Sound understanding of karst through
identified research and informed decisionmaking.
Ecological integrity
-Biological diversity is maintained.
-Noxious and/or invasive weeds and pests
are contained and infested areas managed
and/or rehabilitated.
-Underground cave systems and terrestrial
and aquatic flora and fauna protected
through maintenance of hydrological
processes and water quality.
Visitor satisfaction
-A product that attracts optimal visitation.
-Visitors are completely satisfied with their
experience and will pass on positive
-Sound understanding of the karst
environment through interpretive displays.
-Best practice safety standards applied to
enhance visitor experience.
Cultural heritage
-Sound understanding of indigenous and
non-indigenous heritage through identified
-Heritage interpreted and communicated to
Educational asset
-All visitors leave with an enhanced
understanding of the karst.
-The opportunity for every child to learn.
-A range of learning, communication, and
awareness opportunities available for
diverse audiences.
-The visual amenity of both the natural and
built environment is of high quality.
Master Plan
5.1 Conservation Area Classification
Since the Eramosa Karst Conservation Area is in close proximity to but not within
the Niagara Escarpment Plan limits and many of the HCA conservation areas are
situated within these limits, similiar park classification and zoning polices have
been applied. This will also lend some consistency and comparability with other
HCA master plans.
The unique geomorphology (karst landscape) and the important educational value
of the EKCA suggest a park classification of “Natural Environment”. As defined
within the Niagara Escarpment Plan, “These lands are characterized by the variety
and combination of outstanding natural features, historical resources … and
provide opportunities for high quality recreation and for protection of important
natural and cultural features.”
The above description reflects the intent envisioned within this Master Plan.
5.2 Conservation Area Zoning
The purpose of conservation area zoning is to ensure orderly planning,
development, and management. Zoning assigns uses to lands within the
conservation area based on their significance for protection or potential use for
Four (4) zones have been recognized within the EKCA. These zones are:
• Natural Zone
• Resource Management Zone
• Development Zone
• Cultural Heritage Zone
The Natural Zone is largely the “core area” of the Eramosa Karst as delineated by
Buck et al and designated as the “core area” of the ANSI in 2003 by the Ministry
of Natural Resources. The significant karst features within the HCA- owned
property are contained within this zone. It will require careful management to
ensure the long-term protection of surface and subsurface karst features.
The Natural Zone will support a carefully designed access trail system, limited
orientation/interpretive signage, and landscape rehabilitation as required.
Vegetative succession will generally be left to natural regeneration with the
exception of the two managed grassland areas.
The Resource Management Zone is comprised of the Buck et al 2003 report
“buffer” and “feeder” areas on the south and east perimeter of the conservation
area as well as some of the adjacent “core” area . Much of this land is currently
regenerating farmland in early stages of herbaceous vegetative succession.
These lands will also support trails and associated signage provided the hydrology
and geomorphology of the site is not compromised. Underground karst features
throughout the site are very extensive and their location in some areas difficult to
determine. As karst develops over time surface karst features will become more
numerous especially within this zone.
Landscape rehabilitation will be more extensive in this zone since it is an area that
has been re-graded to a greater degree than the Natural Zone and cleared for
farming. To accelerate vegetative succession extensive plantings are planned
using proven landscape ecological principles.
The Development Zone will provide the main access to the conservation area as
well as car and bus parking, washrooms, and an information kiosk with
interpretive panels. A segment of the East Mountain Loop Trail will also be
accommodated within this zone.
The two Cultural Heritage Zones include historical and archaeological sites
documented during a Stage 1-2 Archaeological Assessment in 2005. The sites
include a multi-component site consisting of a mid-19th century Euro-Canadian
homestead and a pre-contact campsite. A Stage 3 archaeological investigation
has been undertaken in the Spring of 2007 to identify the specific site dimensions
and determine the level of significance. There are also old foundations within this
zone which were part of a farm operation and built with stone that was probably
quarried on site. All these cultural heritage features will be interpreted to add
interest to the overall story of this unique earth science ANSI.
5.3 Public Use Program Options
Meeting the goal for the EKCA will require the wise use of this distinctive
landscape classified as a Natural Environment conservation area. The value
inherent within the karst features, cultural heritage sites, and flora and fauna will
be maintained and even enhanced as part of the management envisioned for the
site. Therefore, significant site development will be restricted to the relatively
small Development Zone. Vehicular site access, parking, a portion of the
community trail, and an interpretive kiosk with washrooms will be accommodated
within this zone.
The other zones, Cultural Heritage, Natural, and Resource Management, will be
accessible only by carefully designed trails to facilitate passive recreational access
to designated features.
Due to the sensitive nature of the site, both ecologically and geomorphologically,
and because of the safety issue the random karst features present, the uses within
this site must be carefully considered. Motorized vehicles (with the exception of
motorized wheelchairs and HCA park vehicles) will not be permitted. Cyclists
must stay on the trails provided and off-trail “mountain” biking will not be
allowed. For safety reasons orienteering would not be appropriate however,
geocaching would not be detrimental to the site provided activities were confined
to the trails. “Cavers” wishing to access the underground karst features will be
equipped with information regarding the sensitive nature of this landscape and the
necessary safety precautions as part of the EKCA’s interpretive kiosk found at the
main entrance. Cross-country skiing on the trails would be appropriate in season,
along with other non-destructive uses which would be considered on an individual
5.4 Carrying Capacity/Monitoring
Karst areas, in general, are sensitive and require special management to minimize
adverse effects and preserve their special character. The EKCA also includes
distinctive soils, microclimates, flora and fauna, and patterns of hydrology.
Carrying capacity has been defined previously as the ability for an ecosystem to
absorb outside influence and still remain in its essence. Managing the EKCA for
its carrying capacity will be partly accomplished through sound planning and
design as described in sections 5.5 “Master Plan Concept” and 5.6 “Management
Plan and Implementation Guidelines”.
Also important with respect to carrying capacity is minimizing destructive
behaviour within the conservation area, avoiding conflict among various users,
ensuring the durability of interpretive sites and trails, and providing sufficient
opportunities for visitor enjoyment.
An integral part of successful plan implementation is the monitoring of the karst
features, flora and fauna, and site facilities combined with communication with
park visitors and adjacent landowners. HCA staff must work cooperatively with
conservation area visitors and adjacent landowners to monitor the condition of the
karst features and associated environments and facilities. To this end, the
establishment of a “Friends of the Eramosa Karst” should be considered.
On-going communication with park visitors and adjacent landowners regarding
the use of the EKCA can only increase awareness regarding staying on marked
trails, respecting private property, and most importantly, respecting and enhancing
the natural environment within the conservation area.
Master Plan Concept
The development concept for the 78 hectare (192.7 acre) EKCA is basically
comprised of an access point from Upper Mount Albion Road, a visitors kiosk
with interpretive facilities, washrooms, and a trail system guiding visitors to a
number of the key karst features, an amphitheatre near the old quarry, and several
plant community monitoring areas. A short section of the proposed 10 kilometre
East Mountain Loop Trail also passes through the conservation area. These
components of the master plan will be described in more detail below.
• Upper Mount Albion Road provides the Main Access to the EKCA
in the northwest corner of the site.
• Vehicle parking will accommodate 1 bus (40 persons) and 20 cars
(40 persons assuming an average of 2 people per car) which will
act as a limiting factor to the number of visitors at one time.
Together with neighbouring pedestrians (assuming 40 persons)
utilizing the site, a maximum approaching 120 visitors at one time
would be anticipated. 20 additional parking spaces have been
delineated in the plan and parking could be expanded subject to
use experience and site monitoring results.
• The visitor kiosk is a canopied interpretive nodal area based on
displays with text, drawings, and photographs. The sheltered area
will accommodate a group of 40 people (25 students plus 15
parents/teachers) as temporary refuge during inclement weather or
for a briefing prior to and/or after touring the karst stations and
other features.
• Washroom facilities are also included in the access facilities.
• It is intended that the main interpretive area provide a complete
overview of all the site’s assets including, of course, karst.
Information pertaining to appropriate site uses, site feature
sensitivity, and safety precautions will be provided. It is also
suggested that a compact “leaflet” be provided with basic feature
information on one side and a self-guiding trail layout on the other.
• Starting from the Visitor Kiosk within the Development Zone, the
trail system basically forms 3 loops.
• The two inner loops are confined to the Natural Zone once leaving
the Visitor Centre and provide access to the karst stations,
amphitheatre, Grassland areas, Maple-Oak forest, and the
archaeological/heritage features.
• The outer loop lies dominantly within the Resource Management
Zone. It is provided within the area as an alternative hiking trail.
Along this outer loop however, 2 monitoring areas of vegetative
progression have been identified. One within the Natural Zone
will monitor the various seral stages of natural vegetative
regeneration and the other within the Resource Management Zone
will monitor vegetative development aided by plantings located
according to landscape ecological principles.
• In conjunction with the information leaflet, trail directional signage
will be provided to help orient visitors.
• Karst Stations have been identified to provide the visitor with an
explanation of the complete range of karst features found on the
• Each Karst Station will be identified on one of the bollards
forming the fence-like barrier separating the trail from the karst
features. Refer to section 5.6.1 for more detail regarding the insitu interpretive karst stations.
• Small, durable interpretive panels are envisioned at each station to
present basic information. Other pertinent information will be
found on the information leaflet supplied to participants at the
Visitor Kiosk.
• An outdoor seating area near the old quarry is located along the
inner trail loop approximately 300 metres (985 feet) from the
Visitor Kiosk.
• The Amphitheatre area will include lengths of stone or timber seats
may be added for an audience and perhaps a large stone lectern for
• The Potruff Spring and Potruff Cave are close to the Amphitheatre
thus providing convenient examples of karst features.
• The main trail system will tour through the Maple-Oak forest and
proposed Grassland feature facilitating their interpretation.
• Basic ecosystem data will be presented on the information leaflet.
Separate, periodic supplemental reports respecting the on-going
monitoring of the changing vegetative conditions of each plant
community will be provided at the Visitor Kiosk.
• Location identification along the trail system for each plant
community will take the form of simple bollards.
• As noted earlier two sites have been delineated for monitoring of
vegetative regeneration.
• The site within the Natural Zone is an area of natural vegetative
regeneration without intervention. The site within the Resource
Management Zone is an area which will experience native
plantings to accelerate vegetative seral stage advancement.
• These two sites will be generally described on the information
leaflet however, periodic updates on vegetative development will
be supplied to interested visitors within a separate handout
distributed at the Visitor Kiosk.
• Accommodate a relatively small portion of the 10 km East
Mountain Trail which will link this park to Mount Albion
Conservation Area and Felker’s Falls. It also links to the Niagara
Escarpment, Bruce Trail and the Red Hill Valley Trail. The
EKCA will provide an access point for the Trail Loop.
• A trail connection to the Visitor Kiosk from the East Mountain
Trail will encourage visitors to become familiar with the sensitive
nature of the conservation area.
• Pedestrian Access should be provided from the site to the City of
Hamilton-owned Olmsted Cave. This will probably require a
crossing of a new collector road planned for the east boundary of
the Karst property.
• Other Pedestrian Access points are also logical from existing and
future residential areas adjacent to the EKCA. If these access
points are not provided, it is inevitable that unauthorized access
will be made. Potential exists at the north end of the former City
of Hamilton road allowance and at a convenient location to the
southeast to be identified during subdivision planning.
• The City of Hamilton is currently developing the Trinity
Neighbourhood Plan and all services including sanitary sewers,
water, electrical power, and communications are anticipated in
proximity to the proposed site access and the visitor
centre/washrooms. Electrical power, water, and telephone services
are currently found along Upper Mount Albion Road.
• The location and timing of the proposed site services is not known
at the time of the preparation of this master plan.
• Decisions respecting the provision of an alternative on-site,
sanitary treatment system will necessarily be made as the Trinity
Neighbourhood plans progress. Alternative sanitary treatment
could involve a peat-based biofiltration system and/or a
constructed wetland system.
Management Plan and Implementation Guidelines
Management principles are dominantly oriented to karst protection however, this
has been accomplished without negating the importance and interconnection of
the conservation area’s other natural, cultural, and recreational resources.
In support of the “values” outlined in section 4.0 and to facilitate the “desired
outcomes”, it will be necessary to fence specific areas of the site’s perimeter. The
fencing should visually “fit” within the context of existing neighbouring property
fences and will be requested as part of future residential subdivisions that abut the
EKCA. Fencing will be a requirement of proposed developments within the area.
The invasion of ragweed into the abandoned farm fields raised neighbourhood
allergy concerns initially in 2003. Fortunately, over the last few years the
ragweed is being crowded out by other species such as goldenrod, Canada thistle,
chicory, and Queen Anne’s lace. Caution will necessarily be taken when the
ground is disturbed for re-grading operations or planting to avoid ragweed
invasion again.
Public access to the conservation area will be provided to take advantage of
educational opportunities afforded by the provincially significant karst and
preservation will not preclude recreational opportunities provided they do not
have undesirable impacts to the karst. In this regard, the annual monitoring of the
general condition of caves, surface karst features, trails, vegetation, and wildlife
will be undertaken by the Caving Community to alert HCA staff for the need for
further detailed inventory/analysis and response.
Other management recommendations appropriate for the 4 conservation area
zones and adjacent ANSI lands follow;
The Natural Zone
As noted earlier, the Natural Zone contains all of the significant karst
features that are seen on the ground. These are the karst features that
require protection and many will be subject to interpretation by visitors via
trails and interpretive signage.
The sensitivity of the site suggests the geology, geomorphology, and
hydrogeology of this entire area be preserved in as natural state as
possible. Therefore, the karst features and their surface landforms should
be rehabilitated to their more natural condition, that is, their state prior to
being subjected to farming practices. Management directives are listed
• Removal of fencing throughout the area.
• Removal of garbage, fieldstones, and artificial fill in sinkholes,
caves and drainage ways will be carried out in a carefully
supervised way. Some of the “garbage” has archaeological value
because of its age so this will require input from an archaeologist.
At very least, any cultural materials removed should be collected
for inspection by an archaeologist. Along the same lines, a karst
specialist should oversee excavations of fill to ensure that
restoration activities do not have a negative impact on the karst
• Restore original grades at old farm roads and along fence lines
where they impact original natural drainage patterns.
The interpretive karst stations will be accessed by a limestone
screenings trail system wide enough for an emergency vehicle,
when required. Typically HCA will utilize small pickup truck or
golf cart sized vehicles for routine maintenance. A low, barrier
structure (fence) will control the general pedestrian flow along the
karst features to keep foot traffic away from the features and help
maintain their natural appearance. The barrier will separate the
trail from the karst features at the karst stations. Since the Nexus
and Pottruff Cave openings are a potential danger to visitors that
may stray from the trail system, these areas will be designed to
create safe access to those wishing to view or enter the caves. The
barrier will be simple and designed to allow visitors the
opportunity to see the karst features. Selective clearing of
individual plants and/or limbs of plants will be carefully
undertaken to present opportunities for views and photographs of
key karst features at each station.
To reduce erosion rates and restore the natural surface drainage
runoff rates to a more natural state, the regeneration of native
vegetation will be encouraged. Much of the Natural Zone is
wooded or recently farmed land adjacent to woodlots and
hedgerows where abundant seed sources and/or rhizomes are
nearby to facilitate the establishment of native vegetation. The
various seral stages of vegetative development will be monitored
within a selected natural regeneration area of this Natural Zone for
educational purposes.
Hazard trees/branches along the trail system will be monitored and
removed, as required. They will be retained on site for wildlife
and eventually soil nutrients.
Apart from the natural vegetative regeneration plan and limited
native plantings, an area of grassland is proposed within the
Natural Zone in association with the Phoenix and Stewart Creek
stations. This grassland will also be monitored for vegetative
succession. The herbaceous cover will control erosion, slow the
runoff rate, and facilitate viewing of the dry valley in this area. An
additional grassland is proposed in this same zone between the
Potruff and Nexus systems.
The Maple-Oak Deciduous forest within this zone will be the
subject of interpretation as noted above. This woodlot has not
been greatly disturbed since the 1800’s and will be studied further
regarding its species mix and then managed as a natural native
ecosystem. It is also identified as a monitoring area for vegetative
succession. Non-native species will be eradicated and any species
found missing but highly probable will be introduced. Fortunately,
Garlic Mustard and Common Buckthorn, 2 non-native invasive
vascular plants that have inundated other parts of the EKCA have
not gained a strong foothold within this woodlot.
Resource Management Zone
The Resource Management Zone consists of the area outside the surface
karst features in the upper reaches of their surface watershed. This zone is
dominated by recently abandoned farmland but contains valuable
watershed for the streams that feed the provincially significant karst
systems in the Natural Zone. The Resource Management Zone includes a
portion of each of the feeder creeks. The boundary of the Conservation
Area was extended to include these feeder creeks to a point where the
overburden reaches a thickness of 3.0 metres, including 50-metre setbacks
on either side. These are the areas where new dolines are most likely to
occur as the karst continues to expand in time. The continued function of
the karst in a natural condition is dependent upon the maintenance of
surface flows from the Resource Management Zone. Management
directives for this zone are listed below;
• Removal of fencing throughout the area.
• Removal of garbage, fieldstones, and artificial fill in drainage
ways. There are also several examples where human activity has
caused the streams to deposit alluvial silt, usually where sinkpoints
have been plugged with garbage or fieldstones. Some of these
should be restored (e.g., McGill Creek has a bedrock channel
extending 20 metres upstream from its sinkpoint and this was
buried during tilling of agricultural lands making it an excellent
choice for restoration. However, others may be best left alone,
such as at the Nexus Creek sinkpoints.
• Restore original grades at old farm roads and along fence lines,
especially where they impact original natural drainage patterns.
• A recreational trail will be constructed through this zone as an
opportunity for nature appreciation in an area regenerating from
farm fields. To reduce habitat fragmentation that this zone
exhibits, landscape ecological principles will be applied in a
vegetation plan. Plantings will involve “colonization”, “stepping
stone connectivity”, and “edge structural diversity”. A monitoring
area in this zone will also be identified to study vegetative
succession utilizing the suggested planting schemes.
• Hazard trees/branches along the trail system will be monitored and
removed, as required. They will be retained on site for wildlife
and eventually soil nutrients.
Development Zone
The Development Zone is outside of the Eramosa Karst ANSI as
designated by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and thus karst
specific management is not as critical. However, this zone contains a
creek with 30 metre buffers on both sides and a 50 metre buffer for the
ANSI “core area” which it abuts. Environmental impact studies may be
required for certain types of development within these buffers.
As noted earlier, this zone will provide the main access to the EKCA that
will include interpretive facilities, washrooms, and accommodate a section
of the community loop trail. The necessary infrastructure and
buildings/structures will be constructed in an environmentally respectful
manner. The use of porous paving materials for parking, driveways, and
trails will reduce storm water runoff and encourage percolation into the
native soil. Roof drains will be directed to soil infiltration areas as well.
Green technologies should be used for the washroom building facilities.
Cultural Heritage Zone
The Cultural Heritage Zone locations are near the main access point off
Upper Mount Albion Road, one within the Development Zone and the
other nearby within the Natural Zone. Since implementation plans will
involve potential further archaeological investigation and minor
construction disturbance, management direction is simply to ensure
drainage is not negatively altered, especially within the cultural site that
lies within the Natural Zone. The actual archaeological sites will be
managed as directed by the recommendations in the Archaeological
Assessments and follow Ministry of Culture requirements.
Developed Area of the Eramosa Karst ANSI
Although outside of the EKCA proper, there are karst features in the
Developed Area of the ANSI (refer to Figure # 2) that are important to the
continued hydrological functioning and evolution of the karst landscape.
Since most of these karst features are within parks owned and operated by
the City of Hamilton they will be protected from destruction. There are a
series of recommendations within the Buck et al report concerning the
rehabilitation of karst features and the safeguard of their geomorphology
and hydrology. HCA staff will liaise with appropriate City representatives
to facilitate this result.
There are two key karst features that are not contained within parkland in
the Developed Area: a portion of the Nexus dry valley, and Nexus Spring.
These can be protected through municipal zoning bylaws and
communications with the affected landowners.
Another option, in combination with the above, is the HCA’s
“Development, Interference with Wetlands and Alterations to Shorelines
and Watercourses Regulation” (HCA Regulation 161/06), which gives
HCA staff a valuable tool to protect the karst resources as a regulated
“hazardous site”.
Feeder Area of the Eramosa Karst ANSI
Figure # 2 illustrates the Feeder Area land located outside of the EKCA.
This area is dominantly south of Rymal Road but also includes karst
watershed land north of Rymal and a smaller portion east of Second Road
The Buck et al report recommends the integrity of the water quality and
quantity within the karst stream watersheds be protected as much as
possible given the disposition of the land. City staff will necessarily be
diligent in this regard and can use land use zoning to assist in their efforts
to maintain karst watershed hydrology and reduce the risk of water
contamination, e.g. gas spills and road salt. In this regard, HCA staff are
working closely with City staff on the development of the Trinity
Neighbourhood Plan and the associated Collector Road Environmental
Assessment. HCA staff have also included this area within the control of
their HCA Regulation 161/06 and thus has regulatory powers to help
protect the karst.
EKCA Connection to Olmsted Cave
The City of Hamilton owns the parkland containing the Olmsted Cave
located to the northeast of the EKCA. It has been suggested that a trail
connection be provided between the EKCA and the Olmsted Cave to
facilitate karst tours and neighbourhood recreation. Care will be given to
maintain karst drainage during the design and construction of the
connecting trail. The City has indicated an interest to manage and
interpret the Olmstead Cave in a similar manner to the sites within the
5.7 Liability and Risk Management
The HCA as the landowner and manager of the Eramosa Karst
Conservation Area is subject to the provisions of the Occupier’s Liability
Act and similar legislation. The HCA takes every care to provide safe
facilities and trails within all conservation areas. Due recognition must be
given to the nature of the EKCA such that users understand that they are
participating in activities within a “natural environment” setting.
The Authority’s risk management program utilized for all conservation
areas should be implemented for the EKCA to assist in defending against
claims that may arise by demonstrating that the management of the area
has fulfilled the duty to take reasonable care for the safety of all users.
To address vandalism and other potential neighbourhood issues and
opportunities, consideration should be given to striking a “Friends of the
Eramosa Karst” group or perhaps work through an existing neighbourhood
association. As an example the Dundas Valley Volunteer Patrol is an
organization that has been very successful in assisting the HCA with the
management of the Dundas Valley Conservation Area.
6.0 Estimates of Cost
The costs listed below are “ball park” estimates only and are expressed in 2006
dollars and include a 10 percent design contingency in each item.
Capital Items
Cost (Can. $)
• Site clean-up…………………………………………………15,000.
• Perimeter Fencing……………………………………………20,000.
Main Site Access;
• Driveway, parking (1 bus, 20 cars)…………………………..60,000.
• Additional parking for 20 cars.……………………………....22,000.
Visitor Kiosk;
• Washrooms, interpretive displays, site furniture……...……250,000.
Trail System;
• 2 inner trail loops (2,400 l.m.)…………………………… 100,000.
• Outer trail loop (1,400 l.m.) ……………...………………… 39,000.
Karst Stations; …………………………………………...……...… 65,000.
Amphitheatre; …………………………...…………………………. 15,000.
Cultural Heritage Sites (2), Stage 3 Assessment; ………………...…20,000.
Maple-Oak Deciduous Forest; …………………………………...… 10,000.
Grassland; ………………………………………………………....... .5,000.
Vegetative Regeneration Sites (2), identification; …………….……. .3,000.
Plantings for Resource Management Zone;…………………………55,000.
Pedestrian Access points (3 locations); ………………………………4,500.
Services (a lump sum is approximated, refer to section 5.5); ………66,000.
Total…………………………………………………………..…$ 750,000.
Therefore, the cost to implement the Eramosa Karst Conservation Area Master
Plan totals $ 750,000.00 which includes a 10 percent design fee within the
itemized components of the plan. This total does not include the estimated
$100,000. for construction of the Eramosa Karst component of the proposed East
Mountain Multi-Use Trail Loop.
7.0 Funding Sources
Funding for the EKCA master plation was a target 50th Anniversary project of the
Hamilton Conservation Foundation which is the fund-raising arm of the HCA.
The full development costs of $750,000. have been generously donated by
Heritage Green Community Trust as well as additional $750,000. to be used to
sustain operations and programming at the area for the foreseeable future.
8.0 Development Phasing
The EKCA project will be implemented in 2007 and 2008 to accommodate a
grand opening celebration in 2008 as part of the HCA’s 50th Anniversary.
9.0 Glossary
Abiotic; of or pertaining to the non-living.
Biotic; of or relating to living organisms.
Bollard; a short vertical post of varying materials/size depending on the
intended use.
Doline; a topographically closed depression or sinkhole in the landscape,
commonly circular or oval in plan view.
Dolostone; a sedimentary carbonate rock that contains a high percentage
of the mineral dolomite which consists of calcium magnesium carbonate.
Ecology; the study of relationships between living organisms and their
Geocaching; an outdoor treasure-hunting game in which participants use a
Global Positioning System (GPS) to hide and seek containers called
caches or geocaches.
Geomorphology; the study of landforms, including their origin and
evolution, and the processes that shape them.
Hydrology; the study of the movement and distribution of water
throughout the landscape.
Karst; a landscape, generally underlain by limestone or dolomite, in which
the topography is chiefly formed by the dissolving of rock and which may
be characterized by dolines, sinking streams, caves, and subterranean
Landscape ecological principles; the use of ecosystem-based, native
planting schemes to assist with the revegetation of a landscape.
Pre-contact; prior to contact by European explorers.
Re-grading; the alteration of the ground surface elevations or topography.
Seral stage; may also be referred to as successional stage, any stage of
development of an ecosystem from a disturbed, unvegetated state to a
climax plant community.
Soil pipes; a tubular cavity formed by water drainage into the soil
overburden, down from the surface to the karst bedrock below: these pipes
are typically a few millimeters to a few centimeters in diameter.
Solution feature; a feature that has been or is in the state of being
Vascular plant; a plant which possesses a well developed system of
conducting tissue to transport water, mineral salts, and sugars.