DEER RUN NATURE PARK -Walking time: 18 minutes This nature park represents a small portion of land which has been designated as an Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) within Point Clark. One feature of Deer Run Nature Park that contributes to the ESA status is the Clark's Creek Floodplain. It provides a passage for wildlife such as deer and enables their free movement along the creek. Vegetation within this park which are important for food sources for wildlife include Black and Wild Red Raspberry, White Ash, Sugar Maple, Dogwood, Birch and Chokecherry trees.
(1) As you walk along this path leading to Deer Run forest community, observe the great number of weed species that have invaded the right-of-way of the park. The clearing of vegetation for residential development creates an "edge effect": a loss of wildlife habitat due to openings in the vegetation layers along the edges of adjacent natural areas. It is the vigorous and highly adaptive species of plants such as weeds and herbaceous perennials that rapidly colonize the bare areas and prevent seedlings of woody plants from establishing. If disturbed forest areas are left to regenerate, weed species are eventually replaced by woody successors, thus re-establishing themselves as the forest dominants.
(2) Deer Run Nature Park has the most diverse fern community of all the nature parks at Point Clark, possessing eight different species in total. Note the similar growth form of Bracken Fern and Wild Sarsaparilla in the immediate area of this station. Both plants possess compound leaves which branch out in three directions from their main stem in an umbrella-like fashion. In addition to Bracken Fern, Boott's and Rattlesnake Ferns, Marginal and Evergreen Woodferns can be found in the vicinity. The next segment of this trail runs parallel to Clark's Creek. This creek's floodplain provides a wildlife corridor for the passage of deer and it is a habitat for a variety of avian species such as Ruffed Grouse, Baltimore Oriole and Rose Breasted Grosbeak.
(3) Tall, feather Ostrich Ferns and shorter lobed Sensitive Ferns can be seen growing on both sides of the trail. A canopy of White Ash and Cedar provides the shade necessary for prosperous colonial fern growth.
(4) The great diversity of the vegetation in this park is highlighted at this interpretive point. Among the Ash and Cedar trees are Willow, Hawthorn, Alternate-Leaved and Red Osier Dogwood shrubs. The ground cover consists of many woodland species with colourful Robert, Mayapple, Jewelweed, Goldenrod, Wild Strawberry, Red Raspberry, Jack-in-the-Pulpit and Small White Aster.
(5) Large gaps in the canopy and the dominance of Goldenrod (an aggressive colonizer) in the open spaces are signs of human disturbance. Also, notice the Riverbank Grape entwined on the Alternate-Leaved Dogwood. Such vinous species take advantage of the open canopy and their rampant growth rate is often detrimental to the plants that are supporting the vine's growth.