ABOUT THE MORAINE
The Oak Ridges Moraine's most important function is sustaining the health of the many watersheds and the diversity of species that live within them. Permeable sands and gravels, deposited in random patterns by glacial melt-waters between two lobes of ice, now collect precipitation which slowly recharges the deep aquifers below the ground. These same sands and gravels filter and release this groundwater to over 65 watercourses flowing north and south into Georgian Bay, Lakes Simcoe, Scugog, Rice and Ontario.
All along the ridge of this regional surface water divide are many tiny headwater streams bubbling out of the ground in seeps and swales and springs. These trickles of water join forces in delivering cold clean water to the rivers and streams that flow off the moraine touching many communities along the way to their final Great Lakes destination.
Some river valleys are well forested, providing living corridors along which animals travel. Wetlands, kettle lakes and prairie grasslands of the 160 kilometer long moraine are home to hundreds of species of plants, birds, mammals and amphibians - and people too!
We know now that clearing forests from these sandy, sloping areas was not a good decision. Decades of restoration efforts to reconnect the forest fragments are evident in the thousands of acres of pine plantations and the newly planted saplings put there by school children. Like long lost friends, the newly-planted roots hold the fine sands and silts in place as natural cover is restored.
We continue to impact the moraine's functions - hardening the surface with pavement, parking lots, housing developments and other uses that continue to put stress on the moraine's natural functions.
Minimizing these impacts to ensure sustainable use of the moraine requires good planning, solid protection and active restoration of lands already damaged.
Protection is less expensive than restoration. Restoration is not as costly as recreating natural functions. The Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust works to enhance and complement the protection and restoration efforts of many other organizations on the moraine.