The Oro Moraine, where a good part of the Copeland Forest is located, is a prominent natural landform extending northeast from Highway 400 to Orillia. The vast majority of the Moraine lies within Oro-Medonte Township. The west and east tips of the Moraine extend into Springwater Township and the City of Orillia, respectively. The Oro Moraine is approximately 21 km long by 6 km wide and covers an area about 141 km2. The Oro Moraine was formed over 12,000 years ago at the terminus of one or more glaciers. Huge volumes of silts, sands and gravels were deposited in this area. As the glaciers retreated, this material was sorted by glacial meltwaters, leaving a legacy of rolling sand and gravel deposits as well as meltwater valleys which cut into the edges of the Moraine.
The Oro Moraine is the headwaters for watersheds draining west to Nottawasaga Bay, north to Severn Sound and south to Lake Simcoe. Forest cover on the Moraine and wetlands along its base provide important ecological functions and are connected to other natural areas in Simcoe County. Groundwater recharge on the Moraine provides important water supplies for residents. Resurfacing along the flanks of the Moraine, groundwater discharge provides clean, cold baseflow to headwater streams which support sensitive fish species such as brook trout. Large intact forest blocks found on the Moraine provide significant habitat for wildlife species which require undisturbed, deep forest habitat (forest interior) to thrive. Maintaining large, connected blocks of forest cover is critical for area-sensitive wildlife that need this type of habitat to survive. The hayfields and grasslands of the Oro Moraine support a number of bird species that require large tracts of open grassland habitat to survive. Several of these species—such as Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark and Upland Sandpiper—are in steep decline in southern Ontario. The forests and fields of the Oro Moraine support species that are considered to be at risk both provincially and nationally. Forests support endangered species such as American Ginseng and Butternut and Threatened species including Whip-poor-will. The landscape also supports species of Special Concern such as Milk-snake, Red-headed Woodpecker and Common Nighthawk.
Courtesy of the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority