Willow Park Ecology Centre, Norval (access off Mary Street at Highway 7, Norval)
Willow Park Ecology Centre (WPEC), Norval is a nature preserve ideal for nature study, education, experiential learning, passive recreation, and relaxation - located in the charming hamlet of Norval, within the Town of Halton Hills, Ontario, Canada - with access off Mary Street at Highway 7, Norval.
The award-winning Ecology Centre serves as an outdoor education resource operated by the WPEC volunteer Board of Directors, part-time staff, and network of volunteer supporters. The Centre exists to educate schoolchildren and the general public about ecology and the environment through programs and events, and to provide natural habitat for wildlife in the ravine. It offers year-round fun and engaging, nature-based programs and events for children, teens and adult volunteers and learners in a visitor-friendly 5-acre outdoor space.
The scenic park is located in the floodplain bounded by the West Branch of the Credit River (Silvercreek) and the main Credit River, within the Credit Valley and Hungry Hollow Centre for Biodiversity. It includes a board-walked wetland, a rehabilitated riverine shoreline, a snake hibernaculum, interpretive Tree Trail, as well as vegetated areas planted to attract specific wildlife.
The site was transformed by the group through community and partner engagement starting in the late 80’s. It was changed from a grassy trailer park into a scenic series of diverse ecosystems. Local volunteers have carried through with an ambitious plan to encourage natural regeneration in Willow Park. Today, the site has reached early succession, and provides a home to a growing number of native Ontario habitats, plants and animals. Building on their successes, the group has now embarked on an upstream restoration project by establishing the Hungry Hollow Collaborative and seeking grant funding. The work has ensued over 2 years and was awarded a Recognition of Merit from the Credit Valley Conservation for improving the natural health of the Hungry Hollow Environmentally Sensitive Area.
In addition to the program and event offerings of the Centre, the park is open to the public for passive recreational use from dawn to dusk in partnership with the Town Parks system, and the Credit Valley Conservation.