The Hamilton Escarpment study area consists of an 11 km long, east-west segment of the Niagara Escarpment within the City of Hamilton. The escarpment here forms a prominent north-facing slope separating the intensively developed lower and upper sections of the city. Numerous transportation and utility corridors cut through this narrow greenbelt and the remaining natural communities are generally disturbed and degraded. Nevertheless, significant species persist in the area and it continues to serve as an ecological corridor linking other significant natural areas along the Niagara Escarpment.
City of Hamilton Environmentally Significant Area (ESA) Criteria:
• Significant Earth Science Feature
The 90 m high escarpment consists of a steep to sheer slope which forms
a prominent break in the Hamilton urban landscape. A till terrace is
present along the lower escarpment and is best represented in Chedoke
Park at the western end of the study area. Bedrock is exposed along the
escarpment face, most notably in the large road cuts created along the
access roads; these range from the red shale of the Queenston Formation
(locally exposed in a quarry in the lower slope by Gage Park), through
the clastic and carbonate beds of the Clinton and Cataract Groups, to
the Goat Island Member of the Lockport Formation. The stranded shoreline
of glacial Lake Iroquois (ca. 105 m elevation) follows the toe of the
escarpment in the eastern portion of the study area.
Chedoke Creek and discharge along the escarpment face drain north into the Hamilton urban stormwater collection system. Water also exits into Hamilton Harbour and Lake Ontario, in part via Red Hill Creek.
Natural habitats in this study area are restricted to a narrow ribbon of vegetation along the steep slope of the escarpment. Due to the urban setting and numerous cross-cutting transportation and utility corridors, the communities are generally disturbed and contain many invasive non-native species and garden escapees.
Nature Counts surveyors recorded 150 species in 2002. Of these, 56 (37%) are introduced species. In 1991, 91 species were documented, including 38 (42%) introduced species. Two additional species were observed in 1999 including Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica), a locally rare species.
Despite inadequate survey work, in 2002 Nature Counts surveyors recorded 10 species. Of these, one species is locally uncommon and another, Hickory Hairstreak (Satyrium caryaevorum), is a locally uncommon and provincially rare species.
There is no fish habitat in this natural area.
From 1986 to 1989, five species were observed including one locally uncommon species and one locally rare species, Ringneck Snake (Diadophis punctatus).
Nature Counts surveyors recorded 32 species in 2002. Of these, three are locally uncommon and two, Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) and Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii), are locally rare.
The Nature Counts project did not conduct trapping here, but in 2002 three common species were recorded. Five species were observed in 1991. There is also a historical record of a Smoky Shrew present in the area.
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