Joany's Woods was purchased by the Thames Talbot Land Trust on September 28, 2007 following a nine month fundraising campaign that raised $660,000 for the purchase and stewardship of this remarkable site.
Joany's Woods is a 148-ha (367-acre) parcel of land located on parts of Lots 17, 18 and 20 and all of lot 19 in broken Front Concession, West Williams Ward, Municipality of North Middlesex, Middlesex County in Southwestern Ontario.
Mr. Thomas Doherty of Sarnia purchased the property in 1986 for the purpose of conservation through reforestation. In 1990, the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) entered into an agreement with Mr. Doherty to manage the property for conservation and passive recreational pursuits by the public. When Mr. Doherty died in August 2006, his executor had to list the property for sale in order to settle the estate. This led TTLT to launch a fundraising campaign to raise funds to buy the land.
London, Parkhill, Thedford, Arkona, Grand Bend and Sarnia are all within a one-hour drive of the site.
Located in the Ausable River Valley, the property is bordered by the Ausable River to the west and is accessible at the south end from County Road 7 (Elginfield Road) and at the north end from Boot Hill Road.
The Ausable Trail committee of Lambton Wildlife Inc. has established a hiking trail through the property as part of an extension of the Ausable Trail. The property also contains two trail systems used for hiking and bird watching.
Joany's Woods is part of the Ausable River Valley Carolinian Canada Site, and is also part of the provincially-recognized Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI). ANSI's are areas of land and water containing natural landscapes or features which the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) have identified as having values related to protection, natural heritage appreciation, scientific study, or education.
Joany's Woods has been classified as an Environmental Sensitive Area (ESA). The Ausable River Valley is categorized as the second most important Carolinian botanical site in Middlesex County.
Before Mr. Doherty purchased the land, Joany's Woods was primarily used for agriculture, with cleared areas supporting crops such as soybeans, corn and wheat. Logging occurred in some of the forested regions although these areas have regenerated.
In terms of wetlands, Joany's Woods contains a hardwood swamp in the northern end. Along with some small marshy areas, it also contains a small pond and borders on another larger pond. The property is bordered by hardwood swamps to the north and east.
The rest of the area consists of upland and lowland forest, scrubby areas and a number of sizable plantations. All of the agricultural land has been reforested through the ABCA and MNR.
The property's diverse nature has resulted in a wide range of plant communities, which in turn provide excellent wildlife habitat. A number of species at risk are associated with Joany's Woods including: Butternut, Snuffbox Mussel, Flowering Dogwood, Spiny Softshell Turtle, Wavy-rayed Lampmussel, Northern Riffleshell, and Queen Snake, among others.
- Prepared from files provided by Kate Monk, Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority, and Jane Bowles, Thames Talbot Land Trust