Conserving the Bighead River

The Bighead River in Grey County flows from the Niagara Escarpment through Chatsworth and into Nottawasaga Bay at Meaford. Springs originate on the Niagara Escarpment, flowing through tributaries and, eventually, connecting to the Bighead River. This river provides habitat suitable for several trout species and salmon.


Left: Niagara Escarpment features on the Van Horne Property. Right: Waterfall on the Van Horne Property

EBC has many protected areas in Grey County and has recently added another one to the list! We have completed the donation of a Conservation Agreement on a 175-acre property. Through Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Ecological Gifts Program, EBC has helped Doug Van Horne successfully protect his property on the Niagara Escarpment in perpetuity. This property includes a headwater area for the Bighead River, natural springs, Niagara Escarpment features and forested areas that connect to a large forest network. The waterfalls and smaller tributary provide spawning habitat for rainbow, brown and speckled trout.

There is a snowmobile trail network that runs south of the Property. This trail leads to surrounding Grey Sauble Conservation Authority (GSCA) Conservation Areas and County Forests. Many of these trails are accessible by both hikers and snowmobilers, others are only accessible for hiking. The property contributes to a large network of natural areas including ten GSCA Conservation Areas and three County Forests.


Hay fields on the VanHorne property create perfect habitat for grassland birds like the Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark.

The hay field on the property provides habitat for the Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorous). Due to significant population declines, the Bobolink is a grassland bird that has been listed as Threatened by both the Ontario Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The farming practices and trail maintenance described in the Conservation Agreement limit the time of mowing so that these activities do not interfere with the breeding seasons of grassland birds at risk.

The Conservation Agreement will limit future owners with regard to severing, timber harvesting, farm practices and restricted residential development. There are several natural springs on the property and the Conservation Agreement prohibits water taking for commercial use. These restrictions will protect the ecological integrity of this property for future generations.

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