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May 31, 2002
The Task Force to Bring Back the Don and Transportation Services launch the second summer of naturalizing Don Valley lands along the DVP
  
The Task Force to Bring Back the Don and Works and Emergency Services,
Transportation Services Division are launching the second summer program to
naturalize a major part of the public land adjacent to the Don Valley Parkway
while maintaining strict safety standards to ensure clear sight-lines for
motorists.

John Wilson, Chair of the Task Force to Bring Back the Don, said recently, "We
are delighted with the on-going co-operation and support of many people in the
City's Transportation Services. Together we are creating improved habitat for
birds, butterflies and other wild things. We really can make the Don Valley
cleaner and greener!"

This naturalization plan has many benefits:
· Unmowed areas will become a major expansion of the beautiful, naturalized
portions of the Don Valley, with a greater diversity of plants, including
flowering herbs and colourful, fall-foliage trees.
· The City will save money in future years because of reduced mowing.
· Unmowed areas will provide food and habitat for a greater variety of birds
and other small wildlife by promoting the growth of trees, shrubs and other
plants.
· Naturally diverse areas have no need for fertilizers and pesticides, which
means less cost and less polluted run-off into the Don River.
· Diverse, uncut plants absorb more precipitation than mowed plants, helping to
control flash flooding during rainstorms.

Unmowed areas will eventually have a variety of trees, shrubs and other plants.

Areas of limited mowing will become naturalized grassland. In some areas, fall
mowing will control the growth of woody plants while not interfering with the
reproduction of perennial, herbaceous plants or butterfly life cycles. In other
areas, limited mowing earlier in the season will control the spread of the
invasive black swallowwort (a.k.a. 'dog-strangling vine'), a non-native species
that smothers native grasses and flowering plants.

Regular mowing, called framing cuts, usually two metres or less, will occur
along every edge for the entire length of the parkway. Regular mowing will also
continue in places where safety is an issue, such as areas adjacent to merging
traffic lanes.

Litter will be picked up in all areas regularly by the contractor.

Q and A Backgrounder:
Task Force to Bring Back the Don

What is the area affected by this program?

This program covers lands immediately adjacent to the Don Valley Parkway from
Lakeshore Boulevard to the York Mills interchange.

What areas are targeted for continued frequent mowing as in past years?

Regular mowing will continue in a two-metre strip along every edge of the
Parkway and access ramps. Regular mowing will also continue on median strips
and next to merging lanes at access ramps where sight lines for drivers must be
preserved.

How wide is the area affected by this program?

The width of land involved varies dramatically from one section of the DVP to
another, e.g. very narrow south of Gerrard Street and very wide in some areas
north of Wynford Drive.

How often will litter be picked up?

Litter will be picked up regularly in all areas by the contractor.

How will this program save the city money?

In future years cost reductions are expected for mowing, since less mowing will
be required. The size of these savings is still to be determined.

Why will some areas be mowed once?

To promote grassland habitats:
A healthy ecosystem provides a variety of habitats to which different species
of wildlife are adapted. In a setting with no human impact, grasslands would
exist in areas where naturally occurring forest fires or floods eliminated
forest cover. Since both fires and floods are now controlled in the Don Valley,
mowing certain areas in the fall to eliminate woody plants will help restore a
more natural ratio of forest to grassland allowing wildflowers to finish
blooming and setting seed.

To control invasive species:
While several invasive species have been introduced inadvertently to the Don
Valley, the areas affected by this plan are most often threatened by black
swallowwort, otherwise known as 'dog-strangling vine'. In areas where it grows
unchecked, black swallowwort often completely chokes out virtually all other
species of plants. Mowing these areas once in July before the swallowwort's
seed pods have matured will help control the spread of this invasive plant.

How was this plan developed?

With technical assistance from Transportation Services staff, two Bring Back
the Don volunteers with a total of over 30 years experience in ecological
restoration projects visually inspected the entire length of the Parkway. They
developed the overall framework for the plan and a detailed mowing proposal,
which was then reviewed by Transportation Services staff and the mowing
contractor. Staff and the contractor made adjustments based on their experience
with safety, operational and aesthetic concerns. These adjustments were
reviewed and agreed to by Bring Back the Don and became the final plan.

Won't this plan mean more insect pests?

This plan should encourage the proliferation of many types of wildlife in the
Don Valley, including insects. Many of these insects, like butterflies,
damselflies, etc. are generally enjoyed by people. Insect pests, like
mosquitoes, are unlikely to travel the long distances from the Don Valley to
residential neighbourhoods. Most frequently, when these pests invade
residential areas, they are breeding nearby, in places like clogged downspouts
and other local standing water. In the Don Valley, insects attract more birds.

Won't this plan create more allergy-causing pollens?

Many of the plants that are likely to be encouraged by this plan such as
goldenrod, asters and staghorn sumac, are rarely, if ever, allergy-causing.
Ragweed, a very common allergy-causing plant, should actually decrease as other
plants take its place. Less mowing actually decreases the dissemination of
grass pollen through the air.

Will this plan be reviewed in the future?

Yes. Bring Back the Don and Transportation Services are both committed to
reviewing this plan in future years and identifying necessary and desirable
changes. All comments from the public on this plan are welcome.


Media Contact
Media contacts:
Susan Bookbinder, Coordinator, Task Force to Bring Back the Don,
416-392-8575
Robert Orpin, Manager, Road Operations, District 1,
416-392-0285

 

 

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