Rouge River Watershed and Rouge Park
What is a watershed?
In simple terms, a watershed is the area of land that catches rain and snow and drains or seeps into a marsh, stream, river, lake or groundwater.
The Rouge River watershed is an extraordinary resource in Southern Ontario, treasured and enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. It spans 336 km2 of land and water in the Regions of York and Durham, Cities of Toronto and Pickering, and Towns of Markham, Richmond Hill and Whitchurch Stouffville. It includes all the lands that drain to the Rouge River and its tributaries, including the Little Rouge River, starting in the hills of the Oak Ridges Moraine and flowing south to Lake Ontario. Land use in the Rouge watershed today is approximately 40% rural, 35% urban, 24% natural cover and 1% open water.
The lower watershed is dominated by Rouge Park, with a small but well established area of urban development to the west. The middle and western parts are experiencing rapid urban expansion and have sparse natural cover except in Rouge Park. The upper and eastern portions of the watershed are primarily rural and agricultural with some small towns and villages.
- 336 Km2 watershed size, including 41 km2 Rouge Park
- 40% agriculture
- 35% urban
- 24% forest/wetland/meadow
- 1% watercourses/waterbodies
Rouge Park is the largest urban park in North America, protects 41 km2 of the watershed, encompassing major stretches of rivers, creeks, forests, meadows and agricultural lands.
Rouge Park is managed by the multi-stakeholder Rouge Park Alliance with a vision to ensure that the Park remains a sanctuary for nature and the human spirit. A number of park plans have been developed to guide management of the Park, but their success also depends on sustaining a healthy watershed, and the Rouge Park Alliance has called for a watershed plan to identify how this can be assured.
The Greenbelt Plan identifies a 600m wide corridor for the Little Rouge River as the main ecological corridor between Lake Ontario and the southerly boundary of Oak Ridges Moraine Area, as well as several other Rouge River tributaries, in recognition of the longstanding commitment to establishing Rouge Park.
For more information on projects that are being undertaken in Rouge River watershed please visit: www.trca.on.ca
Rouge River Watershed Map
Rouge Days Newsletter