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A message for rural landowners in the Credit River Watershed.
Credit Valley Conservation Blog

Secret Shelter in the Subnivean Zone

Although many animals migrate or hibernate to escape the cold, snowy winters, you’ve likely seen signs there are other creatures big and small who remain active throughout. What you might not see are the hidden animal dramas unfolding in the subnivean zone—the secret shelter that exists just beneath the snow.

The word “subnivean” comes from the Latin words “sub” (under) and “niveus” (snow). The subnivean zone describes the area between the ground and the bottom of the snowpack. It’s formed one of two ways: when vegetation or debris holds up snow, creating an insulated air pocket under the snowpack, or by sublimation. Sublimation occurs when the earth’s heat transforms the snow to water vapour. This transformation leaves an air pocket below a tightly packed snowroof caused by freezing condensation.

This secret subnivean sanctuary hovers at a balmy zero degrees, no matter how cold it gets above the snow. Mice and voles dig networks of tunnels to link sleeping areas with food stores.

Help create this cozy winter habitat on your property. Leave areas natural and reduce mowing and raking, allowing leaves and branches to create the perfect snow canopy.

Upcoming Events

Caring for Your Land and Water

Tuesday, March 10, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Terra Cotta Conservation Area, Watershed Learning Centre. Register.

Learn how to care for your land and water. Discover how to build habitat for wildlife and to protect your well, woodlands and streams from climate change. Hear about funding programs to help you get started.

Climate Change and Your Health

Saturday, May 30, 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., Warwick Conservation Centre. Register.

Is climate change making us sick? Get a diagnosis on how changes in our climate will impact the local environment and public health. Learn ways to keep you and your property healthy.

Septic Social

Saturday, June 6, 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., Private Residence, Caledon. Register.

Get pumped about proper septic system maintenance. Join us septic-side to learn how you can protect groundwater and community health on your property.
Your Countryside Stewardship Team
Let's Get Social!
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