An area of fallow farmland, the size of 3 football fields is the site of an ecological restoration project in Rouge National Urban Park.

The Petticoat Creek Headwaters Project, a collaborative initiative between Parks Canada, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and park farmers and local residents, will help to manage seasonal flooding and restore overall stream health and wetland habitat.

The project, taking place in the Markham area of the park on a stream that flows into Petticoat Creek, involves removing natural barriers to fish passage and restoring approximately 400 m of waterway using natural design techniques to increase aquatic connectivity. This important restoration work will help to address altered water flow, stabilize eroded streambanks and improve in-stream habitat for aquatic life. The half-hectare streambank area will be further enhanced by creating floodplain wetlands (2.2 hectares in size!) – to capture and filter agricultural drainage – and by planting native trees and shrubs.

Rouge National Urban Park is the first federally protected area in Canada to safeguard agriculture alongside natural and cultural heritage. The park’s large tracts of fertile Class 1 farmland – the richest, rarest and most fertile soil in Canada and the highest quality for growing crops – occupy approximately 50 per cent of the park area, primarily in the northern section.

Collaborative ecological and farmland protection and restoration projects, which include improving ecological connectivity, farm drainage, soil health and water quality, are key objectives of Rouge National Urban Park’s Management Plan . Parks Canada’s close collaboration with park farmers and the TRCA, as well as numerous other partners, has resulted in the completion of restoration projects that have generated ecological and agricultural gains throughout the Rouge.

Parks Canada and the TRCA are committed to the safeguarding and enhancement of the health and well-being of the Petticoat Creek, Duffins Creek and Rouge River watersheds through the protection and restoration of the natural environment and the ecological services the environment provides.

The first phase of the project began in late November 2020 and will finish in early 2021. The second phase will take place in the summer of 2021, with plantings taking place in the fall of 2021.