Black Ash Creek originates from springs above the Niagara Escarpment brow in the vicinity of Castle Glen and Osler Bluff, south of County Road 19. From the brow to Osler Bluff Road, it is heavily forest covered. The stream bed is rock and gravel stream and has few areas where it runs through open lands. It drains an area of approximately 3,000 hectares. This creek empties into the Collingwood harbour. As it moves northward towards the harbour, it grows progressively larger with merging branches, some of which are other streams re-directed many years ago in Collingwood.
In the 1990’s under the Remedial Action Plan (RAP), a project to rehabilitate the water quality in the Collingwood harbour, many improvement projects were carried out to the Creek to improve its water quality such as bioengineering, crib walls and tree planting (some funded by the Watershed Trust) along the banks of the Black Ash to minimize erosion problems. While Black Ash has some water quality problems, the creek has a heavy groundwater input and is designated a cold water fish habitat by the MNR.
Black Ash provides habitat for game fish such as rainbow trout, Chinook salmon and, at its mouth, smallmouth bass, Northern pike, rock bass and yellow perch.
Black Ash Creek used to be three independent streams; the Black Ash, the Taylor and the Underwood before the 1970’s. Then the Taylor and the Underwood were diverted into the Black Ash for flood control purposes in the Town of Collingwood. The Black Ash was then diverted to the west side of town. This caused damage to the natural formation of the Creek and as a result had a negative impact on water quality.
In the last ten years, the Black Ash has been channelized in Collingwood from Sixth Street to the harbour, again for flood control purposes. The low-flow channel was done in a serpentine formation, thus reducing the negative impacts of the older straight-sided ditch design as used in the Pretty River.
One area of concern is golf courses that are drained by Black Ash Creek. Fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides are potential threats and need to be carefully monitored and controlled to prevent water quality degradation.
We believe Black Ash will continue to improve if the community takes care of the watershed and continues the conservation projects to help improve water quality and habitat.
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