The Bebensee Tract was gifted to the TTLT in May, 2014 by Elaine Bebensee of Calgary in memory of her husband Lloyd Bebensee, both of whom grew up near Skunk's Misery.
The Bebensee Tract is a 26-ha (64 acre) wooded property within the Skunk's Misery swamp forest complex, one of the largest remnant Carolinian forest blocks in southwestern Ontario. At over 1200-ha in size, Skunk's Misery is designated as a provincial Life Sciences Area of Natural and Scientific Interest, a Carolinian Canada Signature Site and a Bird Studies Canada Important Bird Area. The property is bordered by large forested tracts owned and managed by the County of Middlesex and the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority.
The Bebensee Tract is in the Municipality of Southwest Middlesex at the south-east corner of the intersection of Sassafras Road and Trillium Drive, approximately 5 km west of Wardsville and 1.5 km north of the Thames River. It is about a 40-minute drive southwest of London. The property is situated in a 35-km2 mosaic of farmland and woodland known as the Skunk's Misery Natural Area which links the Carolinian forest at its core to the Thames River to the south. A landscape-level conservation plan [PDF] was completed for this natural area by the Nature Conservancy of Canada in collaboration with the TTLT in 2007.
(all photos by Cathy Quinlan)
The property is largely a deciduous swamp forest lying on untilled land with a well-developed swale and hummock (pit-and-mound) microtopography. Several rare breeding songbirds (such as Acadian Flycatcher, Cerulean Warbler and Hooded Warbler) are reported to breed on the property, which contains a diverse selection of Carolinian trees, such as soft maple (Silver and Red), Black, White and Swamp oaks, Green, Black, and White ash, Black Cherry, American beech, Shagbark and Bitternut hickory and Hackberry. The understorey includes Eastern Flowering Dogwood and Witch Hazel as wells as the swallowtail caterpillar foodplants such as Spicebush and Prickly Ash. Tallgrass Ontario has identified prairie remnants on the property.