Art Teasel Wildlife Refuge

Garden Clippings for Jan 11, 2020

A walk in the woods is not a guaranteed cure for the winter blues but it sure helps.

In January, many of us who are employed lament the fact that we drive to work in the dark and drive home in the dark.  January also gives us few days of sunshine, contributing to many of us feeling down in the dumps.

Early supper was on the agenda on Sunday, the day of writing this column.  Temperatures hovered around the zero mark and snow was falling.  Once dishes were cleaned up, I strapped on my boots and headed for the Art Teasel Wildlife Refuge.  I wouldn’t be gone long, I told Cheryl, because darkness was closing in.

The Art Teasel Wildlife Refuge is a little used, little managed, little known trailed woodlot owned by you and me as taxpayers.  Its’ name honours Art Teasel who was one of the original founders of the Sarnia Urban Wildlife Committee.

Art was an avid naturalist who worked tirelessly to preserve local parks and wildlife areas.  His legacy lives on as the Sarnia Urban Wildlife Committee continues to be the leading conservation and environmental group in Lambton County.  In addition to the Art Teasel Wildlife Refuge, the group provides input on the Logan Pond, Dennis Rupert Prairie Reserve and the Bright’s Grove Sewage Lagoons, all part of the Bluewater Trails Network.

At one time the Art Teasel Wildlife Refuge was home to the City of Sarnia’s own tree nursery, which explains why there are remnants in rows of leftover Shademaster Locust and Crimson King Maples, both non-native once popular boulevard trees.

When the municipality quit growing its own trees, they walked away from the nursery, allowing native plants and trees to take over.

Today, the Art Teasel Wildlife Refuge is a 3- or 4-acre parcel containing a mix of native and non-native plants.  Unfortunately, Phragmites is invading a few areas of the park, mostly adjacent to two small ponds, which at one time were gravel pits.  Of interest in the park are a few rusty farm implements and a corn crib reported to be over 100 years old.

On the evening of my visit to the Art Teasel Wildlife Refuge I got partway through and did a U-turn because a huge dead Ash had fallen across the path near the lot’s South East corner.  I hope the City has the wherewithal to move the stump.  Too big for me to handle.

Despite frozen toes, snow drenched hair and a wet ski jacket, the walk invigorated me.

Access to the Art Teasel Wildlife Refuge is off Blackwell Road about 10 houses east of Modeland Rd.  There is on site parking for only a few cars.  Two other woodlots that I recommend walking are the Perch Creek Habitat Management Area on Churchill Rd and Camp Saradaca at the corner of Telfer Road and Blackwell Rd.  Be prepared for solitude because these gems rarely see visitors.