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History of Humans and Their Relationship to the Oak Ridges Moraine: settlement, exploitation, advocacy, and conservation

Hitoru | 5:42 AM | 0 comments

When the glaciers first retreated 11,000 years ago, leaving the giant ridge of sediment that is the Oak Ridges Moraine, Southern Ontario was a bleak and chilly place. Woolly Mammoths roamed the perimeter of giant lakes, many times larger than our "Great Lakes". People whose lives were dominated by the struggle to survive, visited the Moraine only briefly to hunt caribou and to drink from its many sources of clean water.

A few hundred years later, it was a very different place, as trees began to take hold, providing shelter to more wildlife. Over thousands of years, the forests of the Moraine grew and changed, ultimately evolving into a complex ecosystem that sustained a diversity of wildlife under a towering canopy of oaks, sugar maples, beech, and many other tree species.

In only two hundred years, European settlers, anxious to clear land for farming, mowed much of the Moraine's forests flat. By the 20th century, when these same agricultural lands lay abandoned, the Moraine's streams and rivers clogged with sediment that blew unhindered across a largely empty landscape.

Decades later, when cars could cover distances with ease, and roads had made the Moraine completely accessible, developers raced to accommodate the exploding population of Southern Ontario. In just a few months, housing developments popped-up all over the Moraine, where trees and fields had been.

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