Frontenac Arch Natural Area
Misty morning on the Frontenac Arch, Ontario (Photo by NCC)
The Frontenac Arch, also called the Frontenac Axis, is a 50-kilometre-long extension of exposed Precambrian rock that runs through southeastern Ontario and upstate New York from Westport, north of Kingston, to the Thousand Islands. The Frontenac Arch links habitats of the Canadian Shield in the Algonquin Highlands with those of the Adirondack Mountains to the south.
Habitat & conservation values
The Frontenac Arch is a unique area of biogeographic overlap between the northern Canadian Shield forests and southern Carolinian influences compressed over a few miles on a rugged landscape with remarkable landform diversity. The result is a narrow band that supports a high diversity of rare species.
The Frontenac Arch is known in particular for its high diversity of herpetofauna, including salamanders, frogs and toads, turtles, snakes and Ontario's only lizard, the five-lined skink.
The Frontenac Arch supports globally significant biodiversity, important ecological functions and a large number of rare and imperilled species such as:
- common musk turtle
- least bittern
- cerulean warbler
- blunt-lobed woodsia
- gray ratsnake (which is being studied at the Queen's University Biological Station by Patrick Weatherhead of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Gabriel Blouin-Demers of the University of Ottawa).
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) works with many partners in the Frontenac Arch Natural Area, including:
- Queen's University Biological Station
- Ontario Nature
- Canadian Park and Wilderness Society
- Kingston Field Naturalists
- Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority
- Rideau Waterway Land Trust
- The Thousand Island Watershed Land Trust
- Land Conservancy for Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington
Multiple conservation initiatives focusing on the Frontenac Arch have been established as well, including:
- Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve (designated under the United Nations' "Man & the Biosphere" program)
- Algonquin to Adirondacks Collaborative (A2A)
- "Frontenac Greenway Conservation Vision" (coordinated by Ontario Nature)
NCC also works with Parks Canada. In 2005 this partnership helped to expand the St. Lawrence Islands National Park to 5,930 acres (2,400 hectares), doubling the size of the park.
Read about the great work being done in this natural area with the help of the Freeman family and at Elbow Lake.
NCC is currently raising funds for the long-term management of its properties on the Frontenac Arch.
To find out how you can help email NCC's Ontario Region.