kelso conservation area: study site investigation

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An environmental report regarding the interaction of the four spheres (atmosphere, biophere, lithosphere, and hydrosphere) at Kelso Conservation Area in Milton, ON.




    E R S 3 1 5 : E n v i r o n m e n t a l G e o l o g y

    P r o f e s s o r J o h n J o h n s t o n

    A P R I L 2 0 1 3


    Kelso Conservation Area was established in 1960 on the Niag-

    ara Escarpment in Milton, Ontario (GPS Coordinates 43.503,

    -79.947). The 397 hectare park is recognized as a Regional

    Environmentally Sensitive Area and includes 16 km of hiking and

    mountain biking trails.1 At Kelso, visitors can enjoy the sites of

    the natural landscape from the geologic formation of the es-

    carpment to the ancient Eastern White Cedars, many up to 700

    years old.2 The conservation area was created to manage water

    resources through flood control. On site, a dam and reservoir

    provide flood protection and regulate the Sixteen Mile Creek.1 In

    addition, a 35-hectare man-made lake draws visitors to the site

    during the summer and offers supervised swimming and kayaking.

    Kelso Conservation Area owns and operates Glen Eden Ski and Snowboard Centre within the park.3 Open seasonally,

    Glen Eden offers 6 ski lifts with access to 14 slopes and a snow-tubing park.3 In addition, the Halton Region Museum Is

    located in Kelso Conservation Area and houses 35,000 artifacts and several exhibits on Haltons local history through

    its 6 heritage buildings located on historic farmland.4


    From 1836-1950 a section of the land was cultivated by four generations of farmers (the Alexanders from Scotland).5

    Two 55 foot stone chimneys remain on site as artifacts of Christie Lime Kilns historic operations from 1903-1929.5

    Stone draw kilns were used to create quicklime by heating limestone to temperatures between 1300 and 1800

    degrees Fahrenheit and speeding the calcination process.6 The lime was utilized by the building industry as a binding

    agent in mortar.6 Milton Quarries further utilized the natural resource of the Niagara Escarpment dolostone at Kelso

    from 1969-2001.6 The company operated on the East side of the conser-

    vation area, extracting aggregate from the escarpment to support urban

    infrastructure in the GTA.6 In 2006, the Milton Limestone Quarry sold

    71.09 hectares of land to Conservation Halton and the area is currently

    undergoing rehabilitation, later to open as the Milton Quarry Park.7

    View from Kelso Conservation Area outcrop looking NW. Taken June 15, 2012.

    Aerial photo of Kelso Park quarry operations. C. 1970s


    View from Kelso Conservation Area outcrop looking NW. Taken June 15, 2012.

    Aerial photo of Kelso Park quarry operations. C. 1970s

    Directions to Kelso Conservation Area from University of Toronto Mississauga. Retrieved via Google Maps February 2013.

    Kelso Conservation Area is currently utilized as a public park for out-

    door activities such as hiking/biking, swimming, skiing/snowboarding,

    kayaking, camping and rock-climbing. Within the park one can access

    educational information on Haltons local history and its diverse



    Kelso Conservation Area is located in close proximity to the city

    of Milton. While there is no direct transit available to the park, the

    Milton GO station is positioned at a 6.3 km distance. Both the Milton

    Fire Station No. 1 and the Milton Home Hardware Building Centre are located 6.4 km from Kelso CA. Additionally, the

    Halton Healthcare Services Milton District Hospital and the 1 District 12 Division Halton Regional Police Service are

    located 8 km away.


    Kelso Conservation area is about 32 km (driving distance) from the University of Toronto Mississauga at Mississauga Road

    just Southwest of the 401 highway. From UTM, head northwest on Mississauga Rd toward Outer Circle Rd. Continue onto

    Queen St S, then onto Mississauga Rd. Turn right onto Mississauga Rd/Regional Road 1 N5 then merge onto ON-401 W via

    the ramp to London. Take exit 320 to merge onto Regional Road 25 N toward Halton Hills/Acton. Turn left onto No. 5 Sid-

    eroad and continue onto Campbellville Rd. Turn

    left onto Tremaine Rd/Regional Road 22. Turn

    right onto Kelso Rd. Follow Kelso Road until

    the main access gates (about 1-2 km). Additional

    access points can be found at Steeles Avenue

    West and Appleby Line.

    Topographic map of Kelso and surrounding area featuring elevations and artificial infrastructure (quarry, buildings, rail and roadways). Natural Resources Canada Atlas of Canada, 2013.

  • 3Biosphere

    Aerial photo of Kelso Park quarry operations. C. 1970s

    Left: view of Eastern white cedar at Kelso CA. Taken June 14, 2012. Right: endangered jefferson salamander. (Public Domain Photo)

    The city of Milton, Ontario is located 17 km Northeast of Kelso Conservation Area and boasts a rapidly growing popula-

    tion of 75,573. 9 There are no residential properties located within conservation area boundaries yet urban development is

    steadily expanding towards the Conservation Halton parks. The vegetation classification of the park includes mixed wood

    plains and Carolinian (deciduous) forest.10 In Halton Region, there are over 150 species of birds, 30 species of reptiles and

    amphibians, 60 species of fish and 800 species of flora.5 Kelso Conservation Area is the home of two unique species - 700

    year old Eastern white cedars and the endangered jefferson salamander.2 Since 2008, Conservation Halton has been working

    to protect endangered species through the development of the Long-Term Environmental Monitoring Program by collecting

    information on species, ecosystems and changes to the environment over time.11 The Species At Risk designation is given to

    plant and animal species that are threatened with extinction, extirpation or endangerment.12 Visitors can help by reporting

    sightings of rare species (as designated by the Species at Risk in Ontario list) online through the Conservation Halton web-

    site. Conservation Halton aims to increase awareness and knowledge of species at risk and encourage stewardship actions

    to protect them.12

  • 4Atmosphere

    Aerial photo of Kelso Park quarry operations. C. 1970s

    Climograph information (temperature left, precipitation right) from Toronto/Pearson Airport ~30 km E of Kelso CA.14

    There are nine meteorology stations within a 25 km radius of Kelso Conservation Area. The closest station is located about

    15 km Northeast at the Georgetown Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP).13 Monthly data is available from 1962-2006

    with initially sparse information and gaps until 1964.13 Daily data is currently available and has been fairly consistently mea-

    sured from 1962-2006.13 Hourly data is unavailable.13 There are no meteorology stations within Kelso Conservation Area.

    The unique topography and environment of the park will offer significant discrepancies from the data collected at George-

    town WWTP. The closest climograph information can be retrieved from Toronto/Pearson Airport Station about 30 km East

    of Kelso CA.14 At this distance, the information is not at all applicable to the conditions of Kelso Conservation Area as the

    interference of Lake Ontario near Pearson will offer much different weather patterns than those of the Niagara Escarpment

    at the park.

  • 5Lithosphere

    Aerial photo of Kelso Park quarry operations. C. 1970s

    Kelso CA with elevation profile (be-low) at Niagara Escarpment cliff and bedrock exposures A) Kelso Quarry Park, B) quarry, C) sand and gravel pit D) dam and reservoir. Retrieved via Google Earth, March 21, 2013

    Kelso CA demonstrates an 85-meter range in elevation with 243 m at the

    shoreline of Kelso Lake and 328 m at the peak of the Niagara Escarpment

    (maximum slope at 29.4%).15 Kelso CA contains soils of the luvisolic order

    with both loamy soil and clay loam.16 Loamy soil features relatively equal

    amounts of sand, silt, and clay; retains moisture and drain water efficiently.17

    Clay loam consists of sand and silt with increased clay content and is imper-

    meable with poor or imperfect draining.17 The bedrock formation beneath

    the park is Phanerozoic in age and of sedimentary classification. Both the

    Clinton-Cataract (sandstone, shale, siltstone) formation and Amabel (dolos-

    tone) formation were formed in the lower Silurian from sedimentary depo-

    sition beneath a warm shallow sea.18 To the East, bedrock consists of the

    Queenston formation of shale, limestone, dolostone, and siltstone from the

    Upper Ordovician.19 To the West, the Salina formation of limestone, dolos-

    tone, shale, sandstone, gypsum, and salt dates back to the Upper Silurian.19 At

    Kelso CA the bedrock is exposed at the Kelso Quarry Park (43305.64N

    795535.29W), a bedrock quarry (433025.23N 795623.58W), a sand

    and gravel pit (433034.81N 795634.81W), the Kelso Lake dam and reser-

    voir (433046.53N 795641.81W) and at the Escarpment Trail which offers

    a scenic lookout within the park.1,19 There is a significant range of surficial

    geology within Kelso Conservation Area. As demonstrated by the above-men-

    tioned exposures, Paleozoic bedrock from the early and middle Silurian (400

    Ma) makes up a considerable amount of the surficial material as part of the

    Niagara Escarpment.20 The park is located on the Milton Outlier, a