Fort Creek Conservation Area
|Location:||Sault Ste. Marie Ontario|
|Character:||Flood Control Resevoir|
Fort Creek Conservation Area
By Sault Ste. Marie Region Conservation Authority
The Fort Creek Conservation Area is owned by the Sault Ste. Marie Region Conservation Authority and was purchased to address flood control concerns experienced by businesses and residents living downstream. The Fort Creek Dam was constructed between 1968 and 1971 and has a reservoir of approximately 3.24 hectares (8 acres).
In addition to its primary purpose of flood control the Fort Creek Conservation Area also provides the ancillary benefit of green space, recreational oppotunities and wildlife habitat. In the summer the hikers can enjoy the diversity of scenary and trail difficulty level or have lunch under the sheltered picnic area. Offering a delightful diversion in the winter visitors can go snow shoeing, tobogganing or cross country skiing. This conservation area covers approximately 77 hectares (191 acres) and is situated off Second Line, east of Peoples Road creating a sense of tranquility in the heart of the city and is a small example of the beautiful Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Forest and wetlands.
The Sault Ste. Marie Region Conservation Authority (SSMRCA), completed the Fort Creek dam and reservoir in 1970 to prevent frequent flooding of the city’s west end. The SSMRCA also purchased land around the reservoir to control development and protect forest and vegetation in the area. Forests are a natural flood control measure slowing the melting of snow in the spring, allowing water to penetrate the soil and to recharge groundwater.
Along the hiking trails, you may spot beavers, skunks, hares, and various mice and moles. You may also notice tracks from the more shy mink or fox. Birds include the ruffed grouse, woodpeckers, ducks, great blue herons and ravens. Native songbirds to the area are the yellow shafted flicker, red-winged blackbird, black-capped chickadee and the American robin. By the reservoir you may see cormorants and raccoons. Water inhabitants are minnows, catfish (not native), painted and snapping turtles, insects and leopard frogs.
Reforestation has been undertaken in the Fort Creek Conservation Area which lost many trees to logging and natural impacts such as fire, wind, disease and beavers. Local Boy Scout groups and school children have in the past planted trees in the Spring. Usually pine, cedar and spruce have been planted, although trees native to the area also include balsam fir, poplar, aspen, white birch, yellow birch, red maple and sugar maple. Some of the plants that can be found in the area are fireweed, twin flower, wild lily of the valley, common buttercup, starflower, white sweet clover and American vetch.
An Outdoor Classroom
The SSMRCA encourages schools and other groups to make use of the Conservation Area to teach children about nature. Besides the reservoir, there are two ponds in the early stages of growth. Children can see how pond life develops and how the surrounding vegetation turns bare ground, overtime, into mature forest.