The Pretty River is the second largest river in the Blue Mountain Watershed and drains an area of 7,700 hectares. Its headwaters are located in the Niagara Escarpment. It flows down the beautiful Pretty River Valley and drains into Nottawasaga Bay to the east of Collingwood harbour. The section that passes through the Town of Collingwood was contained by a dike in the 1970’s for flood control purposes and there is an overflow outlet at the mouth.
The Pretty River provides a high-quality cold water fish habitat and sustains a rich variety of aquatic life. Since much of the river’s baseflow is obtained from groundwater sources, the MNR designated it as a cold water stream. The upper reaches in the Pretty River Valley in The Town of The Blue Mountains are well-forested. The portion that runs through Clearview Township is mostly agricultural land and some steam bank erosion reduction projects and planting of buffer strips to alleviate warming of the water have been done by the NVCA in partnership with the Georgian Triangle Anglers’ Association (GTAA).
The Pretty River and its tributaries have an abundance of gravel beds ideal for spawning and large deep pools which provide habitat for speckled trout, rainbow trout, brown trout and Chinook salmon. There is an Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI) in the Escarpment uplands on the north slope of the valley. ANSI’s are protected from harmful land uses. The Blue Mountain Area ANSI covers 2,750 hectares and is the second largest protected natural area in the Blue Mountain Watershed. This ANSI is used to protect its excellent representation of crevice caves, Gibraltar and Banks moraines, extensive deposits of red clay and the occurrence of ice-contact sediment.
The Pretty River Valley and the area around it play an important role on the quantity and quality of water that is provided to the Blue Mountain Watershed. The Simcoe Uplands, which was formed by glacial movement and melting, is part of the four dominant land forms in the Watershed. The Simcoe Uplands land form includes the Banks moraine. At the southern arm of the Banks moraine, it forms a unique semi-circular barrier in the Pretty River Valley influenced by the Pretty River itself. Due to its coarse texture, the moraine provides an important groundwater recharge function. The groundwater eventually resurfaces to form the headwaters for many streams in the watershed.
For those of us with the good fortune to be able to enjoy this precious landscape, we must be proactive and take the necessary steps to protect this valuable and important headwater area.
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