DEC 5 2007



Several thousand years ago, a drop of water made its way through the soil down to the first layer of dolostone and combined with carbon dioxide it began to dissolve the rock on which it landed.  Thus began the formation of the Eramosa Karst.  Over thousands of years the slow process of dissolution of the rock by water and carbon dioxide resulted in both subtle and stark karst formations, which are now a part of the Eramosa Karst Conservation Area. 

            The karst lands are still a work in progress.  Nature is not finished its sculpting of the stone and the landscape nor is it finished its role of providing shelter and food for numerous animal species.  In order to continue on its course the creeks flowing into the karst lands need to be naturalized, to continue providing the flow of water necessary to maintain the function of the karst features.  This natural work of art is at risk of being irreparably damaged as a result of proposed development of the lands containing the “feeder creeks”.

            The Province, which so insightfully handed over the lands containing the obvious karst features to the Hamilton Conservation Authority in 2006, still owns the lands with the feeder creeks.  The Ontario Realty Corporation, the branch of government which deals with lands owned by the Province, claims that development of these lands will not negatively affect the ANSI (Area of Natural and Scientific Interest) which now forms part of the Conservation Area.  This position is disputed by the very scientist who wrote the original report which resulted in the land transfer to the Conservation Authority in the first place.  It is also disputed by other hydrogeologists and scientists.

            Common sense also disputes this position.  Why preserve an area as “natural” and then condemn the very source of its formation to development? 

            Development was already completed in part of this area prior to the “discovery” of the karst.  The result of that was the partial collapse of one cave due to blasting and the filling in of other karst features with concrete and fill.  What excuse is there now to proceed with development in such a sensitive area?  To allow continued development of the adjacent lands only threatens to collapse the caves and rechannel the underground streams and water flow.  These effects cannot be mitigated with certainty and the results may not be obvious until water suddenly appears somewhere where it may not have been expected and almost certainly where it will not be welcome.

            We live in a time where the public’s awareness and concern about the environment is based on more and more scientific evidence of the need to tread more softly on the earth.  We have an opportunity before us the save the integrity of the karst system, which will in turn provide a range of habitat for wildlife and native plant life as well as fabulous teaching and learning opportunities for scientists, students and citizens in our community.  The naturalization of the feeder areas will add much needed green space to improve air quality in our car-dependent suburb.  The beauty of the expanded Conservation Area in a sea of suburban development will be valued for generations of people and the creatures who will inhabit it.  A refuge both literally and figuratively for all creatures, great and small.

            The Friends of the Eramosa Karst is a group of citizens who’s goal is to have these feeder creeks included in the Conservation Area.  Having rallied support from numerous citizens, the group has launched a website to offer information and encouragement to citizens, organizations and politicians to get on board and help achieve this goal.  Those interested in knowing more about this area and getting involved should visit http://www.friendsoferamosakarst.org

Rita Giulietti
Communications Coordinator

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