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Natural Heritage Information Centre

Natural Areas Report: HAPPY VALLEY FORESTS

Area Id: 1285 Area Type: ANSI-LS
Size (ha): 648.0 Significance Level: Provincial

Site District:
Topographic Maps:

UTM Centroid: 17 611500 4868500
Decimal Latitude/Longitude: 43.9631850558728   -79.6099914516251


Vegetation: Happy Valley Forests consists mainly of hilly upland areas covered mostly by forests and to a minor extent by old field and small conifer plantations. The remainder of the area consists of: (1) dry lowland areas of forest; (2) treed swamps in wet lowland areas; and (3) a few small areas of open wetland, including wet meadows with scattered trees, and thickets. Several ponds in the area are by and large not part of wetland complexes. Various communities dominated by sugar maple or sugar maple and beech make up most of the upland forest. Frequent associates are white birch, white ash, eastern hemlock, black cherry, and red oak. In the eastern part of the ANSI, forests dominated by red maple and/or red oak occur. The main associates here are beech, white birch, eastern hemlock and largetooth aspen. Situated in valleys between ridges in the east-central part of the ANSI are stands of largetooth aspen, with white birch, red maple and occasional beech, red oak and trembling aspen. Other stands of birch and aspen in which trembling aspen is dominant or co-dominant occur in the central portion of the ANSI in proximity to old field areas and at other scattered locations, and probably represent successional forests. [Lambert 1983]

Landform: Happy Valley Forests is in Site District 6-7, which follows the Oak Ridges moraine. This interlobate moraine with depths of up to 244 m has an east-west orientation and forms the prominent height of land north of Lake Ontario. It extends from the Niagara Escarpment on the west to the Trent River on the east. The study area is located over Ordovician bedrock: mainly shale and limestone interbeds of the Georgian Bay Formation, as well as shales of the Whitby Formation (Ontario Geological Survey 1980). Surface elevation of the bedrock ranges from 122 to 152 m, increasing to the west. Overlying the bedrock is overburden with a thickness varying from 122 m to over 183 m, increasing to the southeast (Vallery et al. 1982). In the extreme southern end of the study area this consists of Halton Till, a brown loam to silt loam till; whereas overburden in the remainder of the ANSI is ice-contact stratified drift consisting of sand, gravel (and locally, silt) of kame, outwash and collapse origin (White 1975). Happy Valley Forests is situated on the west end of a "selected sand and gravel area of secondary significance" with dimensions of roughly 4 km x 11 km (Ontario Geological Survey 1980). Such deposits are believed to contain a significant amount of sand and gravel with a potential for development, versus deposits of primary significance in which a major resource exists, and those of tertiary significance which are unlikely to support large-scale development (ibid). Several kettle depressions are found in the study area, with at least two dry kettle depressions, and at least five small kettle ponds. Four broad soil types are present in the ANSI. Pontypool sandy loam covers most of the area; Brighton sandy loam forms a minor component; and King clay loam (steep phase) is found in the ANSI's south end and in a section of its western edge (Hoffman and Richards 1955). All three soil types are in the Grey-Brown Podzolic group of soils, have good drainage, few stones, and neutral or neutral to slightly alkaline surface reaction. The fourth soil type, bottomland, is found along stream courses and has variable properties. In the field, the following soil types were recorded: in moist areas, a very fine sandy loam or silt loam (fine sand); and in low, moist or wet areas, silty clay loam, sandy clay or organic soils. [Lambert 1983]

Representation: Happy Valley Forests represents two of the vegetation-landform features considered representative of the Oak Ridges moraine region (Site District 6-7): (1) upland forests on typical rolling moraine topography, and (2) wetland types other than kettle wetlands and river valley systems. It contains a superb example of upland forest, much of it on steeply rolling terrain, which is believed to be the most extensive upland forest complex along the entire hundred mile length of the Oak Ridges moraine (S. Varga, 1984, pers. comm.). Much of the forest is of the maple-beech type, however a wide range of different forest communities are illustrated. The ANSI also contains a variety of wooded swamps; and a minor amount of other wetland types, including wet meadows, thickets, and cattail swamps. A few small kettle ponds are present in the ANSI, but these do not constitute true "kettle wetlands" as they are lacking in typical wetland vegetation. [Lambert 1983]

Management Agency:

Minimum Elevation: Maximum Elevation:


3989 Ecologistics Limited. 1982. Environmentally Significant Areas Study. South Lake Simcoe Conservation Authority, Newmarket, Ontario. v + 314 pp.

10317 Fox, T. 1983. Summary of Ownership, Ministry Program Interests, Planning Status and Management Strategies in the Happy Valley Forests Natural Area. OMNR, Parks and Recreation Section, Central Region, Richmond Hill. 15 pp.

4243 Lambert, A.B. 1983. A Biological Inventory and Evaluation of Happy Valley Forests in the Regional Municipality of York, Ontario. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation Section, Central Region, Richmond Hill, Ontario. OFER 8315. Unpublished report. ii + 55 pp.

78612 Larson, B.M., J.L. Riley, E.A. Snell and H.G. Godschalk. 1999. The Woodland Heritage of Southern Ontario: A Study of Ecological Change, Distribution and Significance. Federation of Ontario Naturalists, Don Mills, Ontario. 262 pp.

4255 Lindsay, K.M. 1984. Life Science Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest in Site District 6-7: A Review And Assessment of Significant Natural Areas in Site District 6-7. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Central Region, Richmond Hill, Ontario. SR OFER 8410. viii + 77 pp. + maps.

56599 Varga, S. and K. Mewa. 1998. List of Provincial & Regional Life Science ANSIs in the Greater Toronto Area. Aurora District, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. 6 pp.

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