April 04, 2012

Pancake event celebrates spring at Terra Cotta

As published in The Erin Advocate

The arrival of spring is an opportunity to enjoy outdoor education activities at Terra Cotta Conservation Area.

Families came out to the Spring in the Park Festival on March 17 to join a scavenger hunt, check out a wildlife identification display, make their own bird feeders out of pine cones and have a pancake breakfast – served all day.

(Dave Orr of Credit Valley Conservation serves up pancakes and sausages to hungry visitors.)

At the neighbouring Jack Smythe Field Centre, there were maple syrup demonstrations. By next year, Terra Cotta should have its own maple syrup program, since they are planning to build an educational sugar shack this year.

Saturday's event was the first of the spring Landscapes for Learning events at the Watershed Learning Centre at Terra Cotta, which is located on Winston Churchill Boulevard, 1.6 km south of Erin.

Get Your Gardening On!, planned for April 14, has been cancelled, but you can register for the Birding for Beginners event, to be held Saturday, May 12, 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Discover the basics of bird watching, learn tips for locating and identifying them and get a complimentary birdhouse for your backyard.

Register and get more details about these events on-line at www.creditvalleyca.ca/education, or call the Stewardship Hotline at 905-670-1615. The cost for non-members is $10/adult, $7/child or senior, and for members, $5/adult, $4/child or senior.

There are other programs at Terra Cotta, such as a Bat Box Building Workshop on Wednesday, April 18 at 7:30 p.m., and a free workshop to help rural landowners care for their land and water, at 6 p.m. on April 25.

Terra Cotta Conservation Area (just north of the village of Terra Cotta) is 408 acres of protected forest and wetlands, with a network of trails (including the Bruce Trail), plus Spring Pond, Muskrat Pond and Wolf Lake. People can take advantage of picnic areas/pavilions, barbecue rentals, fishing areas, community meeting space and a new visitor centre with a store and washrooms. In winter, there are groomed cross-country ski trails (with ski rentals), a skating rink (ice conditions permitting) and snowshoe rentals.

An amphitheater is being planned for a sloped area of land near Wolf Lake, which could be used for education of school groups, musical entertainment or even weddings.

Regular admission to Terra Cotta is $5/adult and $3/child, but you can get a one-year family membership for $100 that will admit up to six people to all 10 areas operated by Credit Valley Conservation (CVC), including Island Lake in Orangeville, Belfountain Conservation Area and Limehouse Conservation Area.

Fans of Terra Cotta may want to check out a unique photography exhibition being held at the Williams Mill Visual Arts Centre, 515 Main Street in Glen Williams, March 21 to April 22. Local photographer Manny Martins visited the conservation area once a week for one year, and has produced a series of 52 large-format images called Terra Cotta Journey.

There are also volunteer opportunities for those wanting to make a difference at Terra Cotta. People who could help out with environmental projects or events on one Saturday morning or afternoon per month are urged to call Annabel Krupp at CVC, 905-670-1615, ext. 446.

Teens can earn community service hours as a regular volunteer or with the Conservation Youth Corps, which offers a one-week summer term of work and environmental education. Registration is now open – call coordinator Shawn Verge at 905-670-1615 ext. 441.

Volunteers are also needed for the Friends of Terra Cotta, a group that meets monthly to discuss new developments at the conservation area and help plan and carry out various fundraising and educational activities. They will be heavily involved with the Haunted Forest event in October, just before Halloween.

To find out more about the Friends, contact Julie McManus, Conservation Areas Partnership Coordinator, 905-670-1615 ext. 247.

The public can also get involved with activities of the CVC Foundation, which contributes at least $1 million per year to CVC projects. The Seventh Annual Conservation Gala is planned for Wednesday, May 9, including dinner, entertainment and philanthropy, at Rattlesnake Golf & Country Club in Milton. Tickets are $125 per person, or $1,200 for a table of ten – call Terri LeRoux at 905-670-1615, ext. 424.