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Newletter 17

Putting donation amounts in perspective

Raising $531,000 would require donations of:

$100 from 5310 people or

$1000 from 531 people or

$10,000 from 53 people.

Yes, its a tall order, but spread over 5 years its manageable.

In Memoriam

Donations have been made in memory of the following Thicksons Woods supporters:

Bob Cruikshank, George Scott, Dr. J. Murray Speirs and Barbara Wilson.

We join their families and friends in mourning their passing.

Other Friends Who Have Offered to Help

Special thank-you's go out to:

James L. Hodgins, editor of Wildflower Magazine, for donating space for an ad in their fall issue. (Visit them at http://www.wildflowermag.com .)

Brian Morin for an article in Ontario Birding News 661 Champlain Dr. Cornwall ON, 6H6 6H9. (Contact Brian at Brian.Morin2@sympatico.ca or at (613) 983-0089.)

The Toronto Field Naturalists for putting an article in their newsletter.

Barry Kent MacKay for offering to do a painting for an art auction.

The York Heritage Guild for donating a quilt to be raffled off to raise funds.

Ron Stephenson for donating bird photos.

One need only stand on the north edge of the woods on a May morning and watch the warblers and tanagers stream northward to realize just how critical it is to protect this key piece of habitat.

Thanks to the generosity of more than 200 individuals, 3 naturalist clubs and 2 corporations, as of November 15, $73,000 of the $100,000 down payment was in the bank awaiting the closing on February 6.Additional funds promised by the end of December will ensure that sufficient money will be on hand to meet the down payment. The deal will close as scheduled!

Since a deposit of $5000 was submitted with the offer, the amount required to close on February 2 is $95,000. Before we began this fundraising campaign, we had a fund of about $40,000 built up for just such a purpose. However, closing costs will amount to quite a few thousand, so much of that will be required for those purposes, plus taxes, etc.

The bottom line, however, is that we will have the down payment and the deal will close. Now the challenge will be to raise the money to pay off the rest of the $431,000–plus the interest, which alone will amount to more than $30,000 per year. The mortgage is open quarterly, so the faster it is paid down, the less interest will have to be paid.

To date, donations from individuals range from $10 to $10,000, from naturalists clubs $100 to $500, and from corporations $1000 and $5000.

Kudos to Johnson Controls, our neighbour across Thickson Road from the meadow, for planting wildflowers and native shrubs on their property.

Thank You! Thank You!! Thank You!!!

Its extremely gratifying and humbling to realize just how many people are concerned enough about saving Thicksons Woods to make the sacrifices necessary to ensure it remains wild forever. The rewards for these sacrifices come in many forms.

Everyone who has helped must feel a sense of satisfaction in knowing that they have played a part in ensuring the survival of a wild space that would otherwise have been lost. It helps ease the pain a little when other treasured spots disappear. Many of the people who helped have never been to Thicksons Woods, yet theyve made a commitment to its preservation, just as so many have done to help preserve tropical rainforests they will never visit.

For those who do have the opportunity to visit the meadow, other rewards will be more tangible. The contrast to birding in Thicksons Woods itself is immediately evident, especially in autumn. While birds in the woods are often hidden in dense undergrowth or among foliage in the high canopy, those in the meadow are much more easily visible. Watching a ruby-crowned kinglet feeding in a patch of goldenrod beside an orange monarch butterfly and several metallic blue wasps is a whole different experience. Seeing a migrating chickadee perch on the top wire of a rusty fence, reach out to grasp a goldenrod blossom and hold it down with its foot while gleaning a meal from among the faded blooms, makes one appreciate the chance to get better acquainted with a species we think we know well.

Because the whole meadow is visible at once, it seems larger than its 8 1/2 acres. The open expanse and the unimpeded view encourage a less hurried pace, allowing for a deeper appreciation of the true beauty of birds intricate plumages and fascinating habits. The abundant light makes photography a joy.

From the woods, birds passing overhead are more often heard than seen. From the meadow, the full view of the sky means that every passing flock is visible. Hawk watching is outstanding. A harrier coursing low over the grass, a peregrine hunting over Corbett Creek Valley, a kettle of broad-wings circling high overhead or a rough-leg hovering in search of a meadow vole are all clearly in view. This fall the many thousands of blue jays passing in September gave way to flocks of pipits, bluebirds, evening grosbeaks and white-winged crossbills in October.

We truly believe the meadow has the potential to become the Thicksons Woods equivalent of Point Pelees Sparrow Fields or Presquiles Calf Pasture in their heyday. Twenty years ago it was a pasture. Now some sections are still grass with patches of goldenrod, but nannyberry and red-osier dogwood shrubs planted by birds are spreading from the grove along the eastern border, their leaves scarlet and burgundy in the October sun. A few red cedar and white pine seedlings have sprung up, as well as ash saplings and clumps of multiflora and briar roses. Gnarled northern spy and greening apple trees, remnants of an ancient orchard, and bearing scars from countless generations of sapsuckers, still produce fruit for wintering robins and pine grosbeaks.

Hermit thrushes and white-throats haunt the narrow band of white birch, chokecherry and hawthorn separating the southeastern edge of the meadow from the beaver pond on Corbett Creek north of the Waterfront Trail. Farther north, openings afford a view of the now wooded slopes of the valley. Towhees call from the clumps of shrubbery in the middle of the meadow, while catbirds skulk in the denser cover along the margin.

So far the only late-fall flycatchers found have been eastern phoebes, but its only a matter of time until some exotic southern or western visitor appears. Will you be the one to find it?

For Those Who Were Waiting to See if the Deal Would Close

We recognize that many of you wanted to make donations, but were understandably concerned about the fate of your money should we be unsuccessful in raising the down payment. This was a concern shared by members of the TWLT board as well. That is no longer a worry. The deal will close on schedule.

But there is still the matter of the $431,000 mortgage. Interest alone on that amount totals more than $30,000 per year. The mortgage is open quarterly. The faster we pay it off, the less the final cost will be. Will you join the team and make a donation?

Why Is Protecting the Missing Link Meadow So Critical?

Corbett Creek West Valley borders the meadow on the east. It is protected, and has been planted by members of Whitby Scouts, Whitby Parks, Durham Region Field Naturalists and Thickson's Woods Heritage Foundation. Corbett Creek Marsh and Thickson's Woods lie to the south, separated from the meadow by the Waterfront Trail. Intrepid Park to the east of Corbett Creek Marsh has been planted as well. To the west is a broad, 3-kilometre lakeside strip of former farm fields where shrubs, trees and wildflowers have been planted in scattered clumps.

The meadow ties all of these together into a truly natural corridor of tremendous benefit to those who enjoy out-of-doors activities both in Thickson's Woods and along the Waterfront Trail. This complex is also of increasingly critical importance as a wildlife corridor and stopover refuge for migrants in an area where quality wildlife habitat is disappearing faster than almost anywhere else in Canada.

Protecting the meadow means there will be no more loss of natural open space south of Wentworth Street along the east side of Thickson Road.

Who Are Our Donors?

Recent legislation forbids us from naming individuals who have donated unless we have written permission to do so. Since we do not have that at the moment, we cannot publish a list of those who were so generous in supporting the meadow preservation drive. That does not mean that our gratitude is any less, and we are investigating ways to recognize your generosity.

We can say that 46 people gave between $10 and $49; 31 people gave $50 to $99; 90 people gave $100 to $499; 19 people gave $500 to $999; 15 very generous people gave $1000 to $4999; 2 extremely generous people gave $5000 to $9999; and one extraordinarily generous person donated $10,000.

We also recognize that the $10 donated by an unemployed single mom represents a greater sacrifice than that made by many who donated much larger amounts. Thank you! Particularly touching was a letter from a lady who said she was unable to pledge for future years because she has a very low income. Attached to her letter was a cheque for $1000. Our heartfelt thanks to you as well!

Thanks also to the Kawartha Field Naturalists, the Peterborough Field Naturalists and the West Humber Naturalists for their generous donations, and to Willow Beach Naturalists, Pickering Naturalists and Durham Region Field Naturalists for their pledges of future support.

Thank you as well to our neighbour Co-Steel LASCO for their donation of $1000 and for their pledge of an additional $4000. Thanks to Lofthouse Brass for their generous donation of $5000.

The Water Street Extension - It's Not Dead Yet!!!

Whitby Council unanimously favours removal of the Water Street extension from both the Regional and Town Official Plans, a fact that was reaffirmed at their November 12 meeting. Several months ago the Town of Whitby requested that Durham Region remove the Water Street extension west of Thicksons Woods from its Official Plan.

The Region referred the matter to a sub-committee of its transportation department. Regional staff and a consultant's transportation study report both recommend that the extension remain on the Regional official plan. The extra truck traffic generated by such a road, in addition to its devastating effects on the wildlife along the 3-kilometre naturalized trail corridor, would seriously undermine what we are trying to achieve by buying the meadow to buffer the woods. The noise and diesel exhaust pollution right next to Thickson's Woods is exactly what we are trying to avoid.

At some point in the near future this item will come before Regional Council for a decision. It is critically important that you let your Regional representatives know that you strongly oppose any extension of Water Street east of Blair Street South.

Questions You've Asked about the "Missing Link Meadow" Purchase

What will happen to "the meadow" if we don't buy it?

The land is currently zoned for industrial purposes, which means it could be used for a variety of things, including warehousing and manufacturing. Much of the industrial land in the area has been built on over the past couple of years. The parcel on the west side of Thickson Road is the site of a new facility currently under construction by Johnson Controls, a "just-in-time" supplier to General Motors of Canada. Because of the proximity to Highway 401, the CNR terminal and General Motors manufacturing plants in south Oshawa, the area is a favoured location for truck depots and associated warehousing. Such a facility right beside Thickson's Woods would seriously erode the value of the woods to humans and wildlife alike.

Even if the Town of Whitby and the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority wanted to protect the woods by restricting the type of facility that could locate next door, they are limited because of what is allowed by the zoning. Recently, when Whitby has tried to place restrictions on certain developments, they have been overruled by the Ontario Municipal Board.

What if we raise the down payment, but can't raise the money to pay off the mortgage?

The board's thinking on this is that if we can raise $100,000 in the first 6 months of a campaign, we should be able to raise $130,000 per year to cover interest and pay down the mortgage. By then our fund-raising team will be much larger and projects that are longer-term will have time to come to fruition.

One of the members of our board of directors is also on the board of the Nature Conservancy of Canada. We have been told that the Nature Conservancy would consider seriously a request for interim financing, should the need arise.

How can we guarantee the long-term protection of "the meadow," and of Thickson's Woods itself?

We are a charitable organization with a mandate in our charter to maintain the area as a nature reserve "to protect the flora and fauna" in perpetuity.Since donations have been given in good faith for this express purpose, we are legally bound to ensure that the land is maintained in its natural state as outlined in our charter.

As for the long-term future of the property, we have discussed the question many times. A couple of options are: to turn ownership over to some other conservation organization such as the FON, or to maintain ownership, but put what is called a conservation easement on the property, restricting uses so that it can never be anything but a nature sanctuary. As soon as possible we would request a zoning change from the current industrial designation to something more appropriate, whatever would provide the best protection. This may not be possible until the mortgage is paid off, however—another reason to pay it off as quickly as possible.

What do members of the TWLT Board of Directors get as compensation for being on the board?

Board members serve as volunteers with no monetary compensation for doing so. They spend many hours doing whatever needs to be done to preserve and protect Thickson's Woods. TWLT has no paid staff. What do board members get in return for their efforts? The same thing as donors and other non-board volunteers — the satisfaction of knowing that they are helping to protect a vital link in nature's chain, that they are making a difference and leaving a priceless legacy for future generations.

Have board members contributed to the fund to buy the "missing link" meadow?

Members of the TWLT board are committed to the "missing link" project financially as well as emotionally.To date they have contributed nearly $20,000 to the fund out of their own pockets, and have pledged to contribute more. They believe it's one of the best investments they can make in.

Meadow Diary

September 29
The first day of bright sunshine in a week was spectacular in the meadow, showing off the reds of nannyberry, the burgundies of ash and dogwood and the golds of wild grape and goldenrod.

The apple trees in the orchard have quite a bit of fruit. Ladybugs are abundant around any apple that has been damaged. Common green darners patrolled above the shrubbery.

Several juvenile white-crowned sparrows fed in the cleared areas, fleeing to the cover of shrubs when disturbed. Small groups of chickadees hung from goldenrod or dogwood as they searched for food. among the leaves A yellowthroat with a bright yellow patch beneath its chin fed amng the goldenrod as well.

September 30

In the meadow north of the woods were several juvenile white-crowned sparrows, 6 or 8 phoebes and 3 eastern towhees that called frequently, while managing to keep well hidden among the clumps of dogwood and nannyberry.

Chickadees were moving through from east to west, stopping to feed in the patches of goldenrod. Ruby-crowned kinglets were catching insects here as well, while the golden-crowns seemed to keep more to the evergreens along the south side of the meadow.

Cottontail rabbits were abundant and the remains of one or two suggest that the local great horned owls may have feasted here. A late nighthawk, a small flock of rusty blackbirds and a greater yellowlegs flew over, heading westward.

The kinglets and warblers are easier to observe among the low growth here than they are among the tall pines in the woods. Butterflies today were common sulphur 15, orange sulphur 6, monarch 10, pearl crescent 4, northern crescent 2, cabbage white 3, and one very fresh, velvety mourning cloak.

October 13
Golden birch leaves against white trunks with a brilliant blue sky as a background greeted us as we wandered out into the meadow on this warm October afternoon. The spy apples in the old orchard were more brightly coloured than a week ago, and the leaves on the nannyberry glowed scarlet. A few white-throated sparrows sang occasionally, but mostly they communicated by soft "chips.? The few white-crowned sparrows present were  scarcely vocal at all.

From the edge of the meadow there is a clear view of the sky. A juvenile peregrine circled over the east branch of Corbett Creek for a few moments before gliding westward across the meadow in the direction of the Cranberry Marsh Hawk Watch. A little while later we noticed a goshawk flying westward along the south border of the meadow in the same direction.

October 18
The meadow is a great place to watch flocks of migrants moving past overhead. Flying westward in mixed flocks were 24 eastern bluebirds, 8 rusty blackbirds, 8 white-winged crossbill, 20 pine siskins, and 8 evening grosbeaks.

Future Fundraising

Tickets for the quilt raffle will be available in the new year. How many do you think you could sell?

Also, to raise money for Thickson's Woods in the past, many people have gathered sponsors for a month-long birding challenge, what you might call a "May-rathon" of birding. Some have done this in their own yards, or favourite neighbourhood birding spot. Others have tried to see how many birds they can find in Thickson's Woods. Or how about a "Meadow May-rathon" More details in our next newsletter.

Some people have offered services for a fee that would then be donated to TWLT. If you have skills you would like to donate, please let us know.

Seniors Challenge!

Donate "your age" for the meadow Gord Bellerby from Niagara-on-the Lake has issued a challenge to seniors to make a donation equal to their age each year until the mortgage is paid off.

The mayors of all municipalities in Durham Region are members of Regional Council. Letters addressed to "The Mayor and Council" will be distributed to all council members in your municipality.

Letters addressed to "The Regional Chair and Members of Regional Council" should be distributed to all members of Durham Region council.The mailing address is:

P. O. Box 623, 605 Rossland Road East, Whitby, Ontario, L1N 6A

The Regional Chair is Roger Anderson. His e-mail address is:

His phone number is (905) 668-7711 Ext.4235
His Fax is (905) 668-1567.

Other council members are:

Town of Ajax: Steve Parish (Mayor), Scott Crawford, Jim McMaster

Town of Ajax Municipal Office, 65 Harwood Ave. S., Ajax, L1S 2H9
E-mail: council@townofajax.com
P: (905) 686-8352
F: (905) 686-8352

Township of Brock: Terry Clayton(Mayor), Larry O'Connor

Township of Brock Municipal Office, 1 Cameron St. E,. Cannington, L0E 1E0
P: (705) 432-2355
F: (705) 432-3487

Municipality of Clarington: John Mutton (Mayor), Jim Schell, Charlie Trim

Municipality of Clarington Municipal Office, 40 Temperance St., Bowmanville, L1C 3A
E-mail: mayor@municipality.clarington.on.ca
P: (905 623-3379
F: (905) 623-5717

City of Oshawa: Nancy Diamond (Mayor), Clare Aker, Bob Boychyn, Cathy Clarke, John Gray, John Neal, Nester Pidwerbecki, Warren Young

City of Oshawa Municipal Office, 50 Centre St. S., Oshawa, L1H 3Z7
E-mail: infoservices@city.oshawa.on.ca
P: (905) 725-7351
F: (905) 436-5691

City of Pickering: Wayne Arthurs (Mayor), Maurice Brenner, Mark Holland, Rick Johnson

City of Pickering Municipal Office, 1 The Esplanade, Pickering L1V 6K7
E-mail: info@city.pickering.on.ca
P: (905) 420-2222 or (905) 683-2760
F: (905) 420-0515

Township of Scugog: Doug Moffatt (Mayor), Ken Carruthers

Township of Scugog Municipal Office, P.O. Box 780, 181 Perry St., Port Perry, L9L 1A7
P: (905) 985-7346 or (905) 985-7393
F: (905) 985-9914

Township of Uxbridge: Gerri Lynn O'Connor (Mayor), Susan Para

Township of Uxbridge Municipal Office, P.O. Box 190, 51 Toronto St. S., Uxbridge, L9P 1T1
E-mail: uxbridgetwp@interhop.net
P: (905) 852-9181 or (416) 649-1938
F: (905) 852-9674

Town of Whitby: Marcelle Brunelle (Mayor), Joe Drumm, Gerry Emm, Pat Perkins

Town of Whitby Municipal Office, 575 Rossland Rd. E., Whitby, L1N 2M8
E-mail: clerk@town.whitby.on.ca
P: (905) 668-5803
F: (905) 668-7005

Regional councillors from Whitby oppose the Water Street extension, but need your support in carrying that message to the rest of Regional Council. If you live in one of the other municipalities please express your concern to your mayor and council!!

The Durham Region Official Plan is currently under review. Comments should be forwarded to:

Chris Darling 1615 Dundas St. E. 4th Floor Lang Tower, West Building, Whitby L1N 6A3

If no comments in opposition to the Water Street extension are received,there will be no opposition to the staff recommendation that the road be built.


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