Sheelah Dunn Dooley Nature Sanctuary


HNC is truly grateful to Sheelah and Martin Dooley who entrusted us with the funds to purchase and permanently protect and steward these important lands. HNC appreciates the good stewardship efforts of Mr. and Mrs. Bajaoritis, who owned the land for over 60 years. It is thanks to their interest in seeing it remain natural that we are able to acquire such a tremendous nature sanctuary.


Ecological Importance

The 21.4 hectare Sheelah Dunn Dooley Nature Sanctuary is a mix of steep wooded ravine, open seasonally wet meadow, and shrub thicket habitats for numerous species. Located in Aldershot, in the middle of the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System, it is part of the Bridgeview Valley Environmentally Significant Area (ESA). The ESAs in the urban area of Aldershot (such as Bridgeview Valley where HNC’s property lies) are valuable and vulnerable. Like HNC’s Anita Dutka Buchin Nature Sanctuary, it also protects important north-south corridor that helps species move from Cootes Paradise to the Niagara Escarpment.


Nature Sanctuary in the Landscape

The property lies in the middle of the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System which is a collaboration between nine local government and non-profit organizations who work together to protect and restore our natural lands and secure additional natural lands to create ecological corridors. In addition, the partners work together and with other local environmental groups to deliver sustainable recreation and education opportunities. The Sheelah Dunn Dooley Nature Sanctuary is a key part of an important north-south connection in the EcoPark System.


Stewardship Activities

HNC is caring for the nature sanctuary with a focus on managing invasive plant species that are hindering the growth of native plants, and reducing habitat quality. Some of the invasive plants include common buckthorn, dog-strangling vine, multiflora rose and phragmites. A variety of management techniques are being used including mechanical, chemical and the use of goats to eat unwanted invasive plants.

Goats are increasingly being recognized as invasive species management champions. HNC was the first in the region to employ goats to help manage common buckthorn, dog strangling vine and multiflora rose over an extended period of time.  After two years of the project HNC found volunteers to be more productive than the goats and will continue to work with volunteers to manage invasive plants, although it is also felt that goats could be useful at other sites.

Our hopes are that the land will be forever cared for as a sanctuary for native flora and fauna, be accessible for study and scientific research, and be part of the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System. We are thrilled the HNC will steward this land into the future.

Sheelah Dunn Dooley