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Getting back to nature

Woodstock Sentinel Review
April 26, 2015
John Tapley

Members of the Ingersoll District Nature Club were out doing some spring cleaning at the Lawson Tract nature reserve near Salford on Saturday.

“We try to get out sometime around Earth Day to do our clean up,” said Sheila Fleming, president of the club, which is the steward of the 14.7 hectare nature reserve on McBeath Road.

Donated to Ontario Nature in 1995 by Dr. John Lawson's family, the tract includes two kilometres of trail and is open to the public year round.

On Saturday, nature club members focused on pulling up as much garlic mustard – an invasive species of plant – as they could.

“It uses prime woodland floor and as it spreads it uses up space that all the native species use, like Trout Lilly, Trillium and Jack in the Pulpit,” Fleming said. “I don't think you ever really eradicate it.”

About 10 club members pitched in during Saturday's clean up, and Fleming said she was pleased with the turnout, noting that tract property coordinator Darwin Kent and several other volunteers work at maintaining and improving the reserve on a regular basis.

The group recently constructed a new bridge across a creek in the middle of the property.

It also constructed a new entrance to the reserve that is wide enough to be wheelchair accessible, but narrow enough to block snowmobiles and ATVs.

An outhouse was also rebuilt and resided and new bird boxes, picnic tables and benches were installed.

Fleming said the cost of many of the improvements have been covered through donations from the Township of South West Oxford and TD Canada Trust Friends of the Environment.

“We've been very fortunate with funding,” she said.

Fleming said the nature reserve is enjoyed by many people.

“It's a fabulous place,” she said. “It doesn't matter when I come, somebody's in here. It's well used.”

The nature club is always looking for new supporters, Fleming said.

Among the newer members of the club, Colleen Fuss said she joined in January because she wanted to get involved with a group focused on nature.

“I just think conservation of natural spaces benefits everyone and everything,” she said. “And I wanted to be involved in that.”

Fuss said the Ingersoll District Nature Club has a long history in the area and also has a wide variety of activities, from educational activities to hikes.

“It's one of the best groups I've ever worked with,” she said. “Very open, friendly and welcoming.”

Serving as the club's website and social media editor, Fuss said she is enjoying helping get the club's message out.

As for the Lawson Nature Reserve, Fuss described it as “serene and spectacular.”

“Before joining the club, I didn't even know the Lawson Tract Nature Reserve existed,” she said. “I can't believe we have such an amazing piece of nature so close to Ingersoll.”

More information about the club is available on the Internet at:

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