Dingman Creek Watershed Project
Dingman Creek lies within the Thames River watershed in Southwestern Ontario, and includes areas of the City of London and the Municipalities of Middlesex Centre and Thames Centre. The Dingman Creek watershed is 176 km2 in size.
Land use consists of 64% agriculture and 21% urban (City of London), and the remainder is wooded. The dominant soil types include silty clay loam, silt loam and very fine and sandy loam. This watershed acts as a natural corridor between Komoka Provincial Park and the Dorchester Swamp.
Watershed features include:
• Fish: 21 fish species including the rare Greenside Darter
• Rare aquatic-based reptiles: Spotted Turtle and Spiny Softshell Turtle
• Mussels: 12 species including the endangered Rainbow Mussel
• Plants: American Chestnut, Blue Ash, Broad Beech Fern, False Hop Sedge
The Friends of Dingman Creek was established in 2001. The Friends include representatives from the Lambeth Community Association, City of London, Rotary Club, Thames Talbot Land Trust, Upper Thames River Conservation Authority, watershed residents, and concerned citizens. The group is working together to improve the health of the Dingman Creek watershed by involving the community in restoration and naturalization projects.
Local goals for the watershed include:
• planting native trees and shrubs, and improving the quality of natural areas;
• creating demonstration projects by planting of native wildflowers and grasses;
• restoring riparian areas to expand wildlife habitat and improve water quality;
• creating demonstration projects such as pits and mounds;
• involving students and community volunteers;
• watershed education and awareness.
The local community is very concerned about natural areas, water quality, flooding, erosion and development impacts on the health of Dingman Creek. The Friends are involved in projects that help improve water quality and aquatic health. These projects also demonstrate to the community how to take action and make a difference. Funding for these projects is provided by private donations as well as municipal, provincial and federal sources.
The Friends of Dingman Creek hold annual Creek Clean-Up Days in the spring to help clean up the litter along the creek.
Involving the community is an essential part of the success of the Friends, and involving youth is key for our efforts to continue. School children spend half a day in the field with UTRCA staff to learn about native trees and shrubs, and get down and dirty while planting them. These fun field trips help our leaders of tomorrow gain a better sense of environmental stewardship.
The first project will be on White Oak Road on industrial property owned by ICorr. Trees planted along the Dingman Creek in this area will create a riparian buffer. At the Delaware Sportsmen Club, a natural wildlife corridor will be created by planting trees to connect two woodlots. Trees will also be planted at the two pits and mounds sites once the pits and mounds have been formed.
Students and volunteers will plant 2,200 trees and shrubs and 52 pounds of wildflower and grass seed within the next two years. Nesting boxes will also be installed in these areas creating habitat for bluebirds.
Pits and Mounds
Two pits and mounds projects are underway on privately owned property in the Dingman Creek watershed. This naturalization technique accelerates the natural succession of forests. In old forests that have never been cleared for agriculture or heavily grazed by cattle, pits and mounds are naturally created over time as trees are uprooted by storms and other disturbances. Their raised roots form mounds, and the holes where the roots had been form pits. Fields where pits and mounds have been created stay moist well into the summer, which is long enough for newly germinated seedlings to survive. This topography supports a more diverse selection of tree, shrub and plant species than flat ground.
• The Friends of Dingman Creek and local school children planted native trees and shrubs along the creek at Circle R Ranch to help stabilize the banks where they are badly eroding. Planting tree and shrub buffers along creeks reduces the amount of sediment entering the creek and provides shade to keep the water cooler, improving both water quality and habitat for aquatic species.
• Many industrial lands have been cleared of vegetation. The Friends of Dingman Creek took upon themselves to help replant native species in some of these areas. Quixtar, on Exeter Road, is a great example of naturalization on industrial land.
Why is this Work Important?
In the 2001 Upper Thames River Watershed Report Cards, the Dingman Creek subwatershed ranked the lowest of the 28 subwatersheds in the Upper Thames watershed in terms of water quality. Planting buffers of grasses, shrubs and trees along creeks, rivers and open drains in this area will prevent soil, nutrients and pesticides from being washed into the waterways. Shade from the buffers will also decrease the water temperature and, thus, make it more favourable for fish and invertebrates living in the water.
79% of the watershed’s woodlots are under 10 hectares (25 acres) in size. When woodlots are this small, animals and birds that live in them are more vulnerable to predators. In addition, alien (non-native) plants can move in more easily and take over an area, thus leaving no room for native plants. The trees themselves are prone to stress from sun and wind. Expanding existing woodlots by planting trees and shrubs will reduce these impacts. Planting native trees, shrubs, wildflowers and grasses on public and private properties in the Dingman Creek watershed provides food and habitat for wildlife. By connecting woodlots with these plantings, natural corridors are created for wildlife.
What are NATIVE PLANTS and why are they used?
Native or indigenous trees, shrubs and other plants naturally occur in this region (i.e. people did not bring them here from other regions or continents) and have grown here for hundreds of years. These plants are adapted to our climate and weather conditions and so require less (if any) fertilizer, pesticides, and watering. Native wildlife know these species and require them for food and shelter.
What is NATURALIZATION?
Naturalization is when the land is returned to its natural state by planting native trees, shrubs, grasses, and wildflowers. Naturalizing an area reduces maintenance requirements, and creates habitat for wildlife and opportunities for passive recreation such as hiking and birdwatching.
Project Partners and Sponsors
The Dingman Creek Watershed Project requires the involvement of many community partners including:
• City of London Parks & Planning
• Environment Canada EcoAction Community Funding Program
• Lambeth Community Association
• McIIwraith Field Naturalists of London, Inc.
• Municipality of Thames Centre
• Municipality of Middlesex Centre
• Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters
• Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
• Ontario Ministry of the Environment
• Thames Talbot Land Trust
• University of Western Ontario Department of Zoology
• Upper Thames River Conservation Authority
• The Royal Canadian Legion
• Byron Southwood Public School
• Westmount Public School
• Jean Vanier Separate School
• Our Lady of Lourdes Separate School
• many landowners and interested citizens
For more information
If you would like more information, a presentation made to your organization or club, to get involved, or to sponsor an aspect of the Dingman Creek Watershed Project, please contact: Julie Welker, Community Partnership Specialist.