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Book Aims to Save Moraine
Environmental group launches a salvo in conservation fight

by Brian Dexter
The Toronto Star
Aug. 21, 1997

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An environmental group has sounded a wake-up call for preservation of a huge greenbelt system stretching north of Metro Toronto for more than 200 kilometres.

In a new 120-page book, Oak Ridges Moraine, just published by Boston Mills Press, volunteer members of Save the Oak Ridges Moraine (STORM) chronicle the many features of the ridge of land running from west of Highway 10 in Caledon to the Roseneath area southwest of Rice Lake.

The book comprises 28 chapters and includes more than 100 photographs, most of them in color, as well as maps and other illustrations.

David McQueen, an Uxbridge resident and retired York University economics professor, chaired the environmental group's book committee.

The chief purpose of the book, a four-year project, is to raise public consciousness, McQueen said.

McQueen fears for the moraine's future in view of the current provincial government's seeming "lack of concern" toward the environment, he said in an interview last week.

"So far as I'm concerned the Common Sense Revolution nowhere uses the word 'environment' or shows any consciousness about it whatsoever" he said.

Previous governments produced natural heritage and conservation policies for the moraine. In 1994, a provincially appointed technical working committee came up with detailed recommendations, but that report is still "sitting on the shelf" at Queen's Park, McQueen said.

Conservation authority budgets have been reduced by 80 per cent in the past two years, resulting in maintenance cuts and forcing some facilities and parks to close, he said.

McQueen said the moraine is threatened by aggregate extraction and urban sprawl, and much of it will be "in real danger unless people go out and protest."

The book urges citizens to plant more trees and shrubs, get involved with environmental groups and ask more questions about development at local council meetings.

In Whitchurch-Stouffville at Ballantrae, the moraine is 24 kilometres wide but this narrows to four kilometres near Bewdley in Northumberland County. The moraine joins the Niagara Escarpment at Caledon.

McQueen said the moraine acts as a huge water filter, collecting major supplies in underground aquifers.

Millions of people enjoy the "quiet oasis of green" the moraine provides and as urban growth continues along Lake Ontario's north shore "we must respect and protect this important bio-region," the book says.

Oak Ridges Moraine, which costs $ 34.95, deals with such wide-ranging subjects as birds, fish and other wildlife on the moraine, Caledon Heritage, the Ganaraska Forest in Newcastle, the Glen Major Wildlife Area in Uxbridge and the York Regional Forest. It also details a hike through the Mary Lake Monastery in King Township and lists more than a dozen cross-country skiing areas.

David Crombie, former Toronto mayor and chair of the Waterfront Regeneration Trust, writes an introduction.

STORM was formed in 1989. In addition to McQueen, other book committee members were Gordon Berry, Margaret Cranmer-Byng, Ian Deslauriers, Paul Harpley, Fred Helleiner and Mason Kirkpatrick.

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