In addition to providing fish, bird, and wildlife habitat, wetlands retain rainwater, the only source of water renewal on the Milton Outlier, and slowly release that water to creek systems, ensuring their sustained flow even in dry periods. One anticipated effect of the proposed Burlington Quarry expansion is reduced water supply to wetlands, resulting in early drying in the spring, delayed filling in the fall, and reduced water supply to downstream creeks. More than two-thirds of natural Great Lakes wetlands have already been filled in or drained for agriculture, urban uses, shoreline development, recreation and resource extraction (such as quarrying). The loss of wetlands threatens hydrological processes and water quality as their natural storage and cleansing functions are removed from the ecosystem.
The Milton Outlier supports an extensive and ecologically significant network of wetlands. As a result of a wetland evaluation conducted in 2006 by PERL, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources designated the wetlands on and near Nelson’s property as the “Provincially Significant Grindstone Creek Headwaters Wetland Complex”. This complex contains 17 linked wetlands, two of which are located on the proposed expansion site. In designating the Complex, the MNR found that the system was vital to water storage, wildlife movement, and breeding habitats, including for the Jefferson salamander, a threatened species.
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