LSNT Blazers works to provide safe and accessible hiking trails in Lambton Shores & Vicinity. We help landowners be good stewards and protect some of the most environmentally sensitive areas in Southwestern Ontario while offering the public an ability to connect with nature.
A lot of our forests are under constant threat from outside influences. Thankfully, organizations like the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority help to protect these lands from further development. However, there is a constant threat from fragmentation and misuse of the land.
Trails in these sensitive areas are an important source of recreation but their presence and use can have a negative affect on the ecology of the forest. Keeping large portions of the forests, wetlands and dune lands undisturbed is very important. The introduction of too many trails or blazed in the wrong places can affect wildlife, facilitate the spread of pests and disease, and increase soil erosion and the contamination of rivers and wetlands. This is called fragmentation and it affects the overall health of the forest.
The management of these few remaining forested lands becomes extremely important. LSNT seeks to minimize the creation of informal trails by clearly marking existing trails through the use of trailhead signs and trail blazes. At the same time, closing side trails and undesired access points is needed to help prevent further degradation of the forest. It is important for everyone to adhere to the usage rules and understand the negative effects of fragmentation. Please report any misuse of these lands to the appropriate authorities and enjoy the trails, they are there for you. Always remember, "Discoveries are Waiting"
The information listed below is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. If you feel you have been infected with Lyme disease, please consult your doctor immediately.
Lyme disease is serious and you need to take it seriously! It is a bacterial infection that is spread by black-legged ticks (sometimes called deer ticks). These ticks are typically about the size of a sesame seed.
People get Lyme disease when they are bitten by an infected tick. Ticks live in areas with a lot of plant life, such as wooded areas or fields and thus people who spend time in outdoor areas where ticks are common are at higher risk of getting tick-borne diseases.
Ticks can attach to any part of your body. They are usually found in hard-to-see areas, including the armpits, groin, or scalp. An infected tick needs to be attached to your skin for 36 to 48 hours before it passes the bacteria on to you.
Unless a Lyme disease infection is caught immediately, even several weeks of antibiotics often will not kill the infection. If Lyme disease is not diagnosed and treated early, the Lyme spirochete can spread, and can go into hiding in the body, causing health problems months or even years after the infection occurs.
Early symptoms (3 to 30 days after tick bite) include fever, chills, headache, fatigue, joint and muscle aches and rash. Please consult your doctor if you feel you show symptoms of Lyme disease.
The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to avoid being bitten by ticks. When you are outdoors, follow these guidelines:
If you find a tick on my skin, don’t panic. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. Pull up with steady, even pressure. Be careful not to squeeze or twist the tick body. Sometimes parts of the tick remain in the skin. You can leave them alone or carefully remove them the same way you would a splinter. Do not use heat (such as a lit match), petroleum jelly, or other methods to try to make the tick “back out” on its own. These methods are not effective. Wash the area where the tick was attached thoroughly with soap and water. Keep an eye on the area for a few weeks and note any changes. Call your doctor if you develop a rash around the area where the tick was attached. Be sure to tell your doctor that you were bitten by a tick and when it happened.
Last Words of Advice
Check for ticks! If you have spent time outdoors, check for ticks on your body. Early detection can prevent the spread of Lyme disease. Also educate yourself. There is a lot of inaccurate information to be sorted through, especially on the internet. Ask your doctor if you have questions. Track your symptoms including your sleep patterns, eating habits, exercise routines, and how you’re feeling. You or your doctor may be able to make connections between them. Lastly, take care of yourself. Eat a healthy diet, exercise as regularly as you can and get plenty of rest.
Check out this great video. People with Lyme disease can suffer debilitating pain, robbing them of the life they had before they were bitten by a tick. W5 investigates Canada's problem with a disease that comes from a tiny parasite.
Travelling down a road in a vehicle, your eyes are focussed on the road ahead and the side of the road is a blur. To the naked eye, not much stands out in the ditch except the odd piece of garbage that is big enough or bright enough to catch your attention. The roadside looks beautiful with its tall grasses, reeds and water in the ditch.
However, if you slow down and walk beside the road, it is amazing, actually disgusting, what you will find. It doesn’t take much effort to fill a large garbage bag in just 2 kilometres of picking up trash!
Beyond the coffee cups and water bottles you can find just about anything. The only solace that can be found is the articles that have some personal value including the beer bottles and beer cans - consider it your tip for doing such a noble job!
In an attempt to raise public awareness, Earth Day was created in 1970 and is now the largest environmental event in the world. It occurs each year on April 22nd and is a day for citizens to participate in picking up trash in communities across Canada.
Unfortunately, trash is not just restricted to the roadside; you can also find it on the trails. A wrapper, a plastic bottle, a half-eaten bag of chips! It makes you wonder what people are thinking; they are obviously unaware of the hiking adage, “Take only pictures, leave only footprints.” And if you do find some trash on the trails, please take the time to pick it up and dispose of it properly.
Other environmental efforts include hazardous material disposal days, recycle & reuse, and the Adopt A Road programs amongst others. The idea is to raise the awareness of the problems that plagues our society and to instill a sense environmental responsibility in people.
Lambton Shores Nature Trails believes in being socially responsible and makes a point of keeping the trails we maintain clean of trash and debris. We are also a proud member of the County of Lambton’s Adopt-A-Road program; clearing Bog Line from Northville Road to the county boundary.
In October 2017, LSNT was approached by Sharon Callan who had read a book by Doug Tallamy called Bringing Nature Home. She noted comments he made about walnuts. “The juglone is quite aggressive in attacking cultivars, newcomers to the plant scene. What if juglone could control phragmites, itself an aggressive newcomer?”. She sent us the following note:
“I have a bag full on black walnut pods in my car. They were originally destined for the University of Guelph to use in a study there. But, if we could convince Lambton Shores to let us plant them at the rear of the Legacy Centre, we would have ample material to test on phragmite infestations in Port Franks. Perhaps just the crushed walnut husks, scattered on phragmite beds, would do the trick. Perhaps the walnut trees themselves would form the long term solution. I just know that the present form of control is too costly as a long term fix.”
The idea sounded interesting considering the old adage “nothing grows under a walnut tree”. Although it was outside the realm of our trails maintenance expertise, LSNT would take on the challenge against this invasive species once a suitable property could be found to host the experiment.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Forested Dunes Nature Reserve in Port Franks was identified as a potential site because of the abundance of phragmites. LSNT applied to NCC in January 2018 and was granted permission to perform the experiment for three years (Permit Number AG-ON-2018-152409).
We proposed the experiment to be conducted on three 10 ft x 10 ft sections in close proximity to each other. Plot 1 will be left alone, untreated and have no further clear cutting during the 3 year test. Plot 2 will be treated with walnut husks once in the spring and once in the fall. No further clear cutting will occur during the 3 year test. Plot 3 will be treated with walnut husks once in the spring and once in the fall. The phragmites will be cleared each spring prior to the walnut application. Counts would be recorded of the phragmites re-growth for each plot.
On April 22, 2018, six volunteers spent four hours preparing the three test plots. The ground was damp but there was no standing water. The initial stock count varied from 10-20 per square foot (1000-2000 per plot). We added chicken wire around the two plots that had walnuts husks applied to ensure they didn’t float away in case of standing water. We also erected a sign which stated the permit number, landowner’s name and a brief description outlining the experiment for visitors to the site who may be curious about what was being done.
On October 21, 2018, six volunteers hiked into the experiment site with the intension of performing the counts, clearing the third plot and applying walnut husks onto plots 2 and 3. To our dismay, the entire experiment area was covered in more than 1 foot of water which prevented us from going anywhere near the plots; negating the ability for us to at least get a count of the regrowth. The water level of Mud Creek was higher than its banks and it was decided that the experiment should be changed to only apply the walnut husks once per year, in the spring, as opposed to semi-annually.
A follow up site visit was done on December 16, 2018. The water level was down enough to allow us to get to the edge of the test plots. Through visual observation, the three plots clearly had less phragmites growth than the surrounding area and we obtained the following counts:
On March 20, 2019, a visit to the site found pockets of snow and ice in the general area including the test plots. Outside of these pockets, the open ground was muddy, similar to what we came across the previous year when the experiment was launched.
On May 12, 2019, three volunteers hiked into the experiment site to perform the regrowth counts, clearing of the third plot and applying walnut husks to plots 2 and 3. Unfortunately, the entire experiment area was again covered in more than 1 foot of water. Having brought our rubber boots, we were at able to get to the edge of the plots and observe the regrowth. It was visually obvious that the test areas still had less phragmites than the surrounding, untreated area. However, with the unexpected high water levels at this time of the year and the expected high water levels in the fall, it was decided to conclude the experiment after just one year.
Comparing the initial number of phragmites to the first post-start count, the phragmites regrowth was lesser. Interestingly, the plot with the least phragmites regrowth was also the plot that had no walnut husks applied. One hypothesis is that the juglone was ineffective due to limited volume of application or possible dilution from high water levels and that other factors were at play. There was one correlation that could be made. The plots with the least regrowth were those that were in deeper water at the December 2018 count. It is a known fact that phragmites growth can be controlled by cutting stalks below water the level and thus drowning them.
As was noted at the March 2019 visit, the regrowth was still noticeably lesser than the initial counts. Considering that the area had received a double dose of flooding over a 12 month period, the conclusion is that the drowning had a greater effect than anything that the juglone may have done. If the volume of walnut husks were increased, the effects of the juglone might be more recognizable. That also assumes that the juglone has an opportunity to work long enough and not get diluted by annual flooding. There is also a possibility that an alternate method of applying the juglone might be more effective than simply spreading the husks on the ground. Potentially the juglone could be extracted from the husks and applied to the phragmites area as a spray of some kind. Unfortunately, this process would be very time consuming and expensive to produce.
Considering the high water levels of the Great Lakes over the past number of years, the flooding of Mud Creek and the phragmites area may become a common occurrence. For this reason, it was decided to cease the experiment after the first of three years. The narrow time frame for which the test area would be dry would not afford the time to let the juglone to be effective.
LSNT would like to take this opportunity to thank Sharon Callaan for thinking “outside the box” and bringing this idea to us. Thank you to the Nature Conservancy of Canada for being receptive to idea and letting us utilize the Port Frank’s Forest Dunes Nature Reserve property for this experiment. Last but not least, thanks to the volunteers who showed enthusiasm at the opportunity of being involved in the fight against this invasive species. Their dedication to helping us implement this experiment is truly appreciated!
While researching information on whistle posts, a long forgotten story of a tragic event was uncovered.
The railroad has long since left the Town of Forest; it was originally part of the Grand Trunk Railway line from Stratford to Sarnia. Forest got its name in the 1800’s because of a stop the steam engine trains would make in the middle of the “forest” for wood and to fill up with water from Hickory Creek.
The Forest Fall Fair also originated in the 1800’s and will be celebrating its pandemic delayed 150th anniversary in 2022. Back in the old days, the fair was held on Tuesday and Wednesday at the “Forest Pleasure Park”, located off Park Lane, south of the railroad tracks. A local farmer from Warwick, Joseph McKay along with his wife and two very young boys, drove their horse and buggy to attend the fair on Wednesday October 9, 1901.
After visiting the fair that day, they ended up at a hotel on King Street, likely for a bite to eat before heading home. Since it was early October, the sun set around 5:30 and with the last light of day, bad weather settled in. They were most certainly anxious to get going before the weather got worse for the 10 mile (16 km) journey.
Shortly after 6 pm and with the onset of threatening rain, Mr. McKay gathered his family, put up the sides of the covered buggy, and proceeded down King Street before turning onto Main Street to the railroad crossing.
The 6:20 express train was 10 minutes late that night when it came into town from the east at 20 mph. The steam engine blew its whistle at the whistle post, 1/4 mile from the crossing, then proceeded to ring its bell continuously for 8-10 rods (132-165 ft).
Several people including a watchman tried in vain to stop Mr. McKay but he did not appear to hear them and certainly did not heed their warnings; nor did he hear the approaching train and the ringing of its bell.
The resulting collision left Mr. McKay severely injured but even worse, killed his wife, two boys; his horse and buggy destroyed. The tracks that crossed Main Street were not protected by any gate or by an official watchman; although on this day, one was hired by the town and stationed at this crossing owing to the number of people who would likely cross to attend the fair.
As a result of this tragic accident, a court case against the Grand Trunk Railway was held in Sarnia in April 1902. The result found in favour of Mr. McKay, awarding him $1300 ($800 for his wife, $400 for his injuries and $100 for the horse and buggy). The decision was upheld when the Grand Trunk Railway appealed to the Ontario Court of Appeal. Not satisfied with the decision, the Grand Trunk Railway appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada where the decision was overturned leaving Mr. McKay with nothing more than the memory of his family and this tragic event.
Mrs. McKay and the boys were buried in a single coffin; in an unmarked grave at the Beechwood Cemetery in Forest. Mr. McKay never remarried and lived until 1939 and is buried in the Warwick Community Cemetery.
A small 2 km stretch of the rail line still exists today, heading west from Forest and is called the Grand Trunk Trail. It is frequented by locals and visitors alike and still has an original whistle post, albeit to the west of Main Street, exactly 1/4 mile from the old crossing.
I would like to thank the local historians & researchers, railroad enthusiasts and elders for their help uncovering the details of a time and story long since forgotten.
Lambton Shores Nature Trails