Mount Nemo is also an important breeding area and habitat of the Jefferson salamander. In 2010, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources amended the footprint of the proposed quarry site to reflect the habitat and breeding grounds of the Jefferson Salamander. Despite this move, the amended area still contains parts of the protected wetland complex, which could pose a threat to the Salamander if the extraction takes place.
The Jefferson salamander is a threatened species in Ontario. It received habitat protection under the PPS 1997 and 2005 as well as the Endangered Species Act, 2007. In 2005, MNR documented that the wetland and woodland regions of the Mount Nemo area are habitat for this species, which breeds in the woodland pools that extend onto the southern end of the Nelson property.
In Ontario, populations exist in small and very isolated pockets of a few hundred individuals. Small species populations are always vulnerable and at risk of local extinction. Sudden events such as fires, floods or development may result in the elimination of the entire population in a given area.
Adult Jefferson salamanders have a grey or brown back with possible blue flecks and a lighter underpart. Adults are generally 200 mm in length. This species of salamander requires a mix of deciduous forest and wetland habitats, which exists at the Mount Nemo site. Of greater importance is the existence of vernal pools in the area, which serve as breeding grounds. Vernal pools are temporary ponds which are devoid of fish that form in the spring and dry up by mid summer. Most vernal pools are filled in or removed by residential or industrial developments. The continued existence of these pools is vital to the survival of the species at the Nelson site.
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