Protection and Management Plan for the Millbrook Marsh Nature Center

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Management Zones

The purpose of establishing management zones is to advance the goals noted above- through the application of policies and management interventions within generally contiguous areas of the site. For each of the three zones (Map 7) a rationale and location is given, as well as policies that serve to:

• direct activities by type and level of intensity to appropriate areas of the site;

• outline basic management programs (ecological restoration, monitoring, habitat creation, etc.) for areas or features on site;

• suggest type and extent of structural installations (boardwalks, paths, parking lots, buildings, etc.) which advance educational and recreational objectives while respecting site values.

Wetland-Riparian Zone 

Basis and Landscape Position

This zone represents the core area of the Millbrook Marsh holdings. Diverse hydrologic and wetland ecological functions provide a range of important values, some of them unique to the Centre Region. Since many of these functions are highly sensitive to human-induced impacts, preservation and conservation over the long term are of paramount importance.

The position of this zone is a reflection of wetland vegetation, hydric soils, and hydrology (e.g., flooding limits, stream meanders). Taken together, these features and processes delineate a large central core. Within this core is a smaller, regionally unparalleled ecosystem - the fen - currently in private ownership. The wetland area in the northwesterly portion of Farm 12 and Bathgate Spring Run extending to Puddintown Road are also designated within the Wetland-Riparian Zone.

Intent. The values represented in this zone are both fragile and rich. Correspondingly, the mandates of this zone are: 1) to conserve and enhance ecological and hydrologic functions; and 2) to provide opportunities to learn about these functions and appreciate the beauty of the wetland ecosystem.

Activities and Facilities. Appropriate activities include nature education and appreciation, angling and hiking, and discreet scientific research that promotes the integrity and understanding of the wetland system. These activities are facilitated through the intentional and careful siting of paths, boardwalks and pedestrian bridges, viewing structures and educational stations. On-going monitoring of activities, facilities and ecological responses will help ensure the long-term viability of the wetland-riparian complex. Low-intrusion research installations (e.g., monitoring wells and vegetation transects) are appropriate, if consistent with the above-noted intent.

(Potential Preservation Sub-Zone. This zone is proposed for the fen ecosystem - currently in private ownership - if the property becomes available. Prospective activities and structures would be extremely limited, with the emphasis on ecological preservation to ensure the perpetual integrity of the fen. Boardwalks, paths and all other structural intrusions would not be permitted. Very carefully crafted and controlled scientific research and monitoring may be permitted, if consistent with the primary objective of ecological preservation. To accommodate distinctive educational opportunities, visual access may be achieved through discreetly placed, boardwalk-accessed viewing structures set in the adjacent Wetland-Riparian Zone.

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Transition-Buffer Zone

Basis and Landscape Position

This zone recognizes the urban influences encircling the site. Traffic noise, visual intrusions, disturbed soil regimes, surface runoff and invasive non-indigenous species are some of the more significant impacts present throughout this peripheral area. Fostered by fertile upland soil conditions and proximity to adjacent cultural features and roads, this is also the setting for a variety of on-site human activities, including access trails and outdoor group activities.

Intent. The Transition-Buffer Zone is decidedly more accommodating and resilient than adjacent and lower wetland areas. Essentially ringing Millbrook Marsh, this zone promotes ecological buffering and serves as a transitionary space between uplands and the more sensitive lowlands.

Activities and Facilities. Appropriate activities include nature education and appreciation, access for anglers and walkers, and controlled research functions. Primary management activities include the control of invasive plant species and the restoration of native species. Native vegetation should be planted in some currently open field areas to provide animal habitat, serve as ecological corridors and buffers, and define naturalistic outdoor activity spaces.

Pathways and other non-intrusive infrastructure are permitted, providing they are carefully integrated and consistent with the goals and principles of the property. Any future stormwater management installations must ensure that wetland and stream functions (both ecological and hydrologic) are not compromised.

Structures will be limited to those that advance education and interpretive objectives; these could include a nature center building, sun shelters, defining fence rows, storage sheds for education purposes, and other installations that accommodate appropriate site activities.

Cultural Zone

Basis and Landscape Position

The Cultural Zone is applied to areas where intensive human activities are present or anticipated in settings up-gradient of the Transition-Buffer Zone. Heavily utilized agricultural landscapes and areas such as the Farm 12 barnyard complex and the Quonset hut are valid uses that complement the aforementioned management zones. In accommodating education and appreciation of both cultural heritage and natural history, this zone celebrates the synergies that can be achieved when human and non-human communities find a more sustainable balance.

Intent. The intent of this zone is to provide a program- and facilities-intensive land base that meet the primary educational objectives of the Millbrook Marsh Nature Center. It is intended that this zone complement the general mission of protection of the adjacent Millbrook Marsh system, while demonstrating a heightened level of sustainable land use in its own right. Agricultural activities should celebrate and interpret the site’s heyday as a dairy farm and a landmark along Puddintown Road.

Activities and Facilities. A myriad of activities may take place within the Cultural Zone, providing they are consistent with the overall mission and goal of the Center. Both indoor and outdoor activities should focus on the natural and cultural heritage of the wetland, Farm 12, Bathgate and their watershed context. Low-intensity pasturing and forage cropping may be appropriate in the fields fronting Puddintown Road, providing they are managed in a sustainable manner. Large group activities and general gatherings should be confined specifically to this zone.

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Facilities should reflect the agricultural heritage of the farmstead, including adaptive re-use of Farm 12 structures, a possible four-season nature center building, outdoor shelters and information kiosk, a porous parking lot and access lanes, defining fence rows, discreet signage and lighting, native plantings and interpretive nodes.

On to Monitoring Protocol