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Showing posts from 2017

Coldspring Valley explorers: a photo gallery!

What do all these people have in common? They've taken the guided tour of west campus with Restore Cootes! Be like them and come out Friday at 12:30 PM to tour the remnants of Coldspring Valley Nature Sanctuary, McMaster Parking Lot M depaved, Ancaster/Coldwater Creek, and other sites of historical and research interest. Register here:

Coldspring Valley History Hike: Water Innovation Week

We're heading back out to share the history of this former floodplain/nature sanctuary, and take a look at the rehabilitated future of this contested site in McMaster's west campus. Can we really depave Paradise? It's happening! Register on Eventbrite:  (by donation)

Slow Sign and Turtle Time

THEY SAY: Information Report: April 3, 2017 SUBJECT/REPORT NO: Rare Turtle Recovery, Wildlife Corridor Issues and Roads of Issue at Cootes Paradise (PW16024a) - (City Wide) Traffic Issues on Cootes Drive Traffic Operations & Engineering has been working with the Ward 13 Councillor on traffic signage along Cootes Drive. Four (4) traffic signs (with flashing lights) operating during turtle migration season will be installed in the spring of 2017. The migration period for turtles is generally around the months of June, early July and September but can vary due to weather conditions. The traffic signs are useful in alerting motorists of potential turtle crossings on that roadway. RESTORE COOTES SAYS: Is it working? Is there any evidence that it is helping turtles or even slowing vehicles? We're betting it has little to no impact - the light is always flashing, if turtles are present or not, the road is built for speed and it makes it dangerous to slow down. We hope

Poor Spencer Creek

Poor Spencer Creek. Every so often  some sort of catastrophe befalls the creek and undoes previous good work to create a healthier ecosystem. Maybe it's time to do a safety audit along the creek to determine where the next problem might be lurking? Citizen action resulted in a response to this latest - construction related - incident that released sediment to muddy the waters. See the twitter timeline below: Spencer Creek - Curated tweets by dundastard NEWS SOURCE:

Counting On Cootes

Thinking about the other evening, tabling at Supercrawl. I set up for 6pm, and closed up at 10pm: so that's four (4) hours. Someone with a counter at the front door clicked in 1000 people. So, average 250 people per hour. (It honestly didn't feel like that many, but I have no doubt about the veracity of the reported number). I had 22 people stop and sign the actual pledge. That would average 5 people per hour signing the pledge. What's that, 12 minutes per pledge on average? 22/1000 is: 2.20% So just over 2% of attendees actually stopped and took an action. Maybe that's pretty good? I felt quite happy with the pace and the results. It's something to build on anyway, with almost all those pledgers also agreeing to join our mailing list. Before the event I had nobody on the list, now I am up over 20.

Three reasons we want you to avoid driving on Cootes

This time of year, these baby snappers are trying to get places. They have a rough time as it is, being small and snackable for some predators, and subject to road kill on Cootes Drive and Olympic. You probably wouldn't notice these when you are travelling in your vehicle at 80 km/h. Yet that's the speed limit on Cootes, which is precisely where so much wildlife lives in the adjacent marsh. So we encourage you to take our pledge, and limit your drive-time on these roads that cut through a nature preserve. Do it for the kids. Link to Pledge form: It only takes a minute to do the pledge, and it will generally only add a minute to your drive between Dundas and Hamilton to follow through on the pledge. Take another look at the baby turtles: there are your three good reasons. Thanks for your support.

How to help a snapping turtle cross the road (and keep all your fingers!)

Everything you need to know here!

Got a minute to save a (wild) life?

Can you spare one minute for the turtles? TAKE OUR PLEDGE TO AVOID COOTES DRIVE A minute here; a minute there,  time to save lives!  The other night I had a chat with someone who presented a more complicated routing issue between Dundas and Hamilton. Someone living in the Hopkins Court section of town would pay a higher price in time to avoid Cootes and Olympic (6 more minutes given Cootes would take 8 minutes vs 14 minutes using the York/Osler combo.) But this is the exceptional circumstance. If drivers took alternatives at least for some journeys, it's going to help overall, right? What do you think? Can you spare a minute or five?

Coldspring Valley Revisited

After I made the time-lapse video and linked to an earlier (prior to de-pave) video I found another way to show the changes visually. I didn't realize this was possible on Google Maps but I guess I wasn't paying attention: you can use street view to time travel a location back to see its changes over time ! This is useful for our purposes in Lot M/Coldspring Valley: In Google Maps there are 2007, 2011 and 2015 views of McMaster Parking Lot M that show the parking lot before and after the de-pave to create a naturalized buffer between the parking and Ancaster Creek. If you are curious about this here's what you need to know: How to view : Open your google maps app Locate the McMaster campus parking (Lot M) Select street view (drag human figure onto map to activate) Choose a perspective (see example below which gives a good vantage point from above) In the top left corner of the map there is a small timer icon: you can use this to change views to different y

For the rain it raineth... some smart people talking about water (and pints)

Less turtle traffic - outreach report from Supercrawl!

Restore Cootes' founder Randy Kay tabling at Supercrawl Our table inside the dry and warm confines of Evergreen's Collaboration Station Once we packed up, steps away we caught some Pup at Supercrawl Thanks to the wonderful staff and volunteers at the Evergreen (Hamilton) Collaboration Station at 294 James Street North we had a great time tabling and meeting people from Hamilton and beyond here for the annual Supercrawl. 22 people kindly filled-out our Pledge to avoid driving on Cootes Drive in order to give the area turtles a fighting chance at surviving; having a four lane, 80km/h divided highway running directly through prime turtle habitat in the protected Cootes Paradise nature sanctuary has got several species of turtles close to extirpation. It's a terrible place for a road, and daily death for wildlife is a reality as a result. Shout out to Evergreen staff Jay and Allison and the many volunteers for being such generous hosts to so many great

Small minority will aim to kill reptiles on road

If you were looking for a measure of human depravity, 2.7% might be a useful number. In a study of drivers at the Long Point causeway in southern Ontario, they found that just under 3% of drivers  intentionally swerved their motor vehicle to run over a snake or a turtle (not real ones, but replicas used by the researchers). Welcome to the bottom of the barrel of human behaviour! "We observed 3,015 cars pass by our treatments, of which 66% (n = 2,000) met our spacing requirements. Composition of drivers was 1,592 males and 408 females. Log-linear analysis indicated a 3-way interaction (χ2 = 2376.17, df = 8, p =  < 0.0001) between treatment, gender and fate. Reptile treatments were hit at higher frequencies than either the cup or control. Male drivers (n = 803) hit reptile decoys more often (n = 50) than female drivers (n = 197, 3 )."  I'm not a scientist, so I'm going to check in with my more data-aware collaborators to get a clearer understanding of the re

Taking a different direction to protect turtles in Cootes

Here's an easy thing you can do that will benefit at local risk-turtles immediately. It's as simple as taking a different route to bypass Cootes and Olympic Drive. This small choice will mean turtles and other wildlife in Cootes Paradise will have a better chance of surviving from being crushed under your vehicle tires. Take the pledge:   Often you might not even be aware you've hit a young turtle, or a snake, for example, yet in the case of turtles, each death means this at-risk group is one death closer to extirpation. Turtles take a long time to reach maturity, and most hatchlings never make it to adulthood so you can see the dilemma. Please take a minute to pledge your commitment to use an alternate route, and help Restore Cootes and other groups do their part to protect our reptile friends. A previous survey showed that 70% of respondents would do this for the turtles. Hopefully you will join them! Thanks in advance for yo

Taking Turtles to Supercrawl

Restore Cootes will have an info table at this Friday's Supercrawl , tucked in the warm and welcoming Evergreen Community Collaboration Space at 294 James Street North in Hamilton. We will have Restore Cootes buttons for sale and pledge forms for people who are interested in helping protect at-risk turtles and other species subject to road mortality along Cootes and Olympic Drive in Dundas Ontario. 70% of respondents said they would use an alternative route to protect turtles Together we can make a difference. In an earlier poll , 70% of respondents said they would use an alternative route to protect turtles, and we want to help you do it! A biodiversity hotspot, Cootes Paradise is teeming with all kinds of wildlife. The problem is human activity, namely roads and parking lots , creates a hostile and deadly environment for the marsh inhabitants. I hope you get the chance to drop in and say hello Friday night between sets!

The True Cost of Parking: Obliterated landscapes, ruined cities.

Why we have so much parking and what we need to do to reduce excessive parking areas from the author of the classic The High Cost of Free Parking . This short video explains the dilemma and offers simple solutions. Thanks to Alex and Reyna from Turtles of Cootes working group for the link!

Road killed

Driving a car shields vehicle occupants from the visceral experience of death and destruction they wreak. Maybe that sounds hyperbolic, but let me tell you: I'll bet you didn't even see the animal you ran over.  It's different when you are on foot, or in my case, on a bike, the results are all too - graphically - apparent. There's the dead body, protective shell crushed, guts exposed, the smear of blood like a crime scene, telling a story of a violent end of life.  On my short journey between McMaster and the Urquhart Butterfly Garden I encountered 2 dead turtles crushed on Olympic Drive, and one snake, splattered at McMaster parking access. If you missed it, I've got the photographic evidence here for you.  It's no secret that Cootes and Olympic Drive, and McMaster parking, are all built in and through a biodiverse area, much of which is protected as a nature sanctuary. The presence of vehicles slicing through the middle of the natur

Cleaning the planet near you! Creek Cleanup this weekend in Cootes

Volunteers make the world go around, and these folks get right into making sure the spinning globe has some clean and tidy sections: The Stewards of Cootes do weekly clean ups and invite you to volunteer to make a difference . This session offers a chance to get right in the stream which isn't always an option due to the lifecycle of the fish. Here are the (wet or dry) details of their upcoming session in Cootes: Sunday August 27th from 9:00 am to noon Stewards of Cootes will be meeting  in the back lot on the left side as you face 64 Hatt Street.    Cootes Paradise, photo by Randy Kay Volunteers who wish will be in the streams around Dundas. We will be continuing our sweeps upstream in Spencer, Ancaster and Spring creeks. Due to our short window of opportunity for in water work things are rather urgent as we are trying to finish our stream sweep before fish hatcheries force us back onto the land for the rest of the year.  Gentle Moderate and Rugged Terrain will be av

When politics of parking gives way to science: Video with Reyna Matties

Once McMaster agreed to depave a section of their parking lot in west campus lot "M" the space quickly transformed into an outdoor science lab with researchers and undergrads taking on projects in the area once known as Coldspring Valley Nature Sanctuary. Reyna talks about her place in Hamilton and her role in the research in lot M in this McMaster produced video:

Another look at McMaster Parking Lot M after the depaving (video)

I went back to the same spot to grab a time-lapse of Lot M, post asphalt removal to create the 30m minimum required buffer between the parking lot and Ancaster Creek, a cold water creek that was moved to allow more parking in the 1960s. There's hope for the future of this space, which formerly was a Royal Botanical Gardens nature sanctuary known as Coldspring Valley. We will have some updates to announce soon! With your help, we can keep moving forward to see more of this area returned to nature. Please sign-up to keep informed about developments and campaigns from Restore Cootes!

Turtle ecology, conservation and what you can do to help our at risk turtles!

Seven of Ontario's eight turtle species are at risk. Road mortality poses a major threat. Let's talk turtle ecology, conservation and what you can do to help ! Morgan Piezak (McMaster MSc Candidate Biology) and Sarah Richer (RBG) For more info: Time: Wednesday, August 2, 5:30pm Location: Ye Old Squire 875 Main Street West, Hamilton.  website  

Butterfly and Birds guided walk at Urquhart Butterfly Garden Saturday

Butterfly and Bird Identification is fun, and something that can be enjoyed by young and old.  Learn all about it on a guided walk led by experienced naturalist Matt Mills on Saturday, July 29th from 11 am to  12 noon at the  Urquhart Butterfly Garden , Centennial Park, Dundas.  The walk will be cancelled if it rains. On the last guided walk participants were lucky enough to see the Buckeye Butterfly which is uncommon in Ontario and a rare visitor to this area.  Lots of other butterflies were nectaring in the sunshine as well. The recent rain has brought out the birds who are nesting in the foliage, and can be seem flitting back and forth to feed their young.  Matt knows them all and will point them out. You are requested to wear a hat and bring a chair. Lots of free parking available, transit stop nearby, and adjacent to the Cootes Drive bicycle path. The Summer Series will be held every Saturday until September 2.  For more information please visit urquhartbutterfly.c

Our Youtube Playlist

Every so often I shoot some video to illustrate events going on in our area of interest, geographically speaking, in and around Cootes Paradise. A series of (currently nine) short videos touching on changes in McMaster parking lot M, turtles crossing Cootes Drive, Spencer Creek Trail, and McMaster artists contributions to the cause, are all in the playlist on my Youtube channel. I hope you can check some of them out, and if you have any questions or advice I'd love to hear from you! Randy

Lost Nature Trail at McMaster Video

The longest remaining intact trail fragment from the former Coldspring Valley Nature Sanctuary of the Royal Botanical Gardens (1958-1963) lies just out of sight behind a sign directing cars to parking lots in west campus - the former nature sanctuary long buried beneath asphalt since McMaster University bought the property from the RBG for cheap parking, built later that decade (1968), and persists today. Known as Maria's Walk on old RBG trail maps, it was one of the several trails that weaved through diverse habitat and across the (former) floodplain: the shortest trail of the former system, now the longest remaining footpath. In fact, it's still, a nice trail used by people moving between campus and parking, and other destinations. I hope you stay connected with us at Restore Cootes as we try to get McMaster to improve trail access, and recognize this lovely footpath for its historical role in the area's natural and human history. HISTORY HIKES Restore Cootes

Cootes at Half Capacity

Watching the flashing "Turtle Crossing" warning signs on Cootes, I remain skeptical about the effect on traffic speed. The only thing I've seen that actually slowed traffic along here was when the lanes are reduced to half capacity, and moved to one side of the centre median (see video). This temporary road engineering creates conditions that strongly discourage speeding, and I think it would be a much-needed safety improvement on the regular divided highway layout. Such a roard treatement would also have the added benefit - if we truly want to help turtles survive - of decreasing the crossing distance for wildlife by well over half the current road width. The best solution likely remains temporary road closures during turtle nesting times, as the city of Burlington does for Jefferson Salamanders on King Road. As long as the closure is well advertised in advance, drivers could adjust their trips accordingly. We will watch to see what emerges as an effe

Urquhart Butterfly Garden Summer Series 2017

The free Summer series at the Urquhart Butterfly Garden kicks off on Saturday July 15 with Matt Mills leading a Guided Butterfly & Bird Identification Walk. Matt is an experienced naturalist, with a vast store of knowledge and an engaging manner. Photo: The Garden is humming with life, “I am never disappointed by what I see at the Urquhart Butterfly Garden”, Matt said recently. If there are rare butterflies to be seen Matt will find them, as well as locating all the bird life hiding in the bushes or flitting among the trees. The Guided Walk takes about an hour and begins at 11 am on Saturday, July 15. You are requested to wear a sun hat and bring a chair. “I am never disappointed by what I see at the Urquhart Butterfly Garden” - Matt Mills If it rains the walk will be cancelled. The Summer Programme will be held every Saturday until September 2. The Urquhart Butterfly Garden is located at the end of Centennial Park in Dundas. All ages are wel

Urquhart Butterfly Garden Photo Contest 2017

The Monarch butterflies are already arriving, and when the sun shines there are quite a number many species butterflies to be seen at the Urquhart Butterfly Garden, plus lots of other wildlife action. This year Photo Contest began a month earlier than usual, and continue until after Labour Day in September. Photographers of all ages are eligible for both cash and certificate awards in four categories: Butterflies and Moths Insects, Spiders and Bugs Birds and other wildlife Plants and Flowers Fancy camera equipment is not needed, some great photos have been taken on cell phones. What is required is patience and a good eye for an interesting shot. The Photo Contest opened on Monday, June 5 and ends on Tuesday, September 5. Entry information & rules can be picked up at the Urquhart Butterfly Garden or can be viewed on the UBG website. The Urquhart Butterfly Garden is located at the end of the Desjardins Canal. Parking is available on King Street East, close to the Ai

The Social Sciences Take on Lot M!

Guest Blogger: Carly Stephens  S ince its inception, Parking to Paradise has been a platform for interdisciplinary collaboration. Many readers are familiar with the Ancaster Creek riparian buffer and restoration work along the Northwest border of the parking lot. Interested parties across many faculties and disciplines have worked together to restore this ecosystem and raise awareness about the impacts urbanization on the natural environment. Nurtured by the time, commitment and hard work donated by volunteers and students, the land has grown into a site of green infrastructure, ecosystem restoration, and sustainable development. Read about Reyna Matties' Master’s work on retrofitting storm water management systems on the lot in the December 7, 2015 post below . Now, it’s the social sciences turn to learn where green infrastructure developments - as with the case of Lot M - fits into our social world. Students build turtle habitat on buffer My research involves exploring

New book explores Coldspring Valley, Cootes Paradise

I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on this book by Daniel Coleman. Daniel has been a great supporter of the work to reclaim parts of the former RBG property known as Coldspring Valley, now Lot M of McMaster parking. Maybe see some of you at The Staircase on May 19th for a reading by Daniel!

Community Engaged Narrative event: "Stories from the More-than-human world"

I've been invited to join a panel discussion “Stories of the ‘More-than-human’ World” on Thursday, February 2, from 3-5pm at the McMaster Centre for Continuing Education. You can register for the event here: The sponsor of the panel is the Centre for Community Engaged Narrative Arts ( CCENA ) and this is only their second Long Table Gathering of the Year. So, yes, honored to be invited! I'll be excitedly chatting about Lot M/Coldspring Valley with some cool people, and engaging in an open discussion, so I get to learn while I'm there too! Hope you can make it out, and share your experience too! If you ever want a tour, grab 3 friends and I'll set you up to visit the site!

Subterranean Hamilton: Ghost Rivers

CBC Hamilton brings attention to the buried creeks in the city, and talks to some Restore Cootes allies about the work they are doing in Lot M. McMaster Biology's Reyna Matties and Geography and Earth Sciences' Dr. Mike Waddington are featured in the article by CBC Hamilton 's Samantha Craggs. Mike was one of the first professors to really get behind Restore Cootes' project to have McMaster depave the parking lot and look for ways to enhance and protect the health of the adjacent Ancaster Creek. Link to CBC Hamilton article: Restore Cootes and McMaster Biology leading a history and science tour at Parking Lot M after the de-paving (note, commenters on the CBC article rightly point out the problem with this sentence: "Centuries ago, Hamilton was a blanket of lush green space. Then along came humans, who wanted more space to build." - of course there were already people here who