Webber Vista, Rice Lake Plains, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

Webber Vista, Rice Lake Plains, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

Rice Lake Plains Natural Area

Webber Vista, Rice Lake Plains, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

Webber Vista, Rice Lake Plains, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

The Rice Lake Plains, one of the most intriguing areas on the Oak Ridges Moraine, is an area of roughly 40,470 hectares (100,000 acres). It is located at the eastern end of the moraine, southeast of Peterborough.

Habitat

Historically, the Rice Lake Plains were covered with tall grass prairies and oak savannah. They were dominated by massive black and white oak. Grasses like big bluestem, Indian grass and switchgrass grew more than two metres high, and a diverse range of wildflowers blossomed. Today, the oak savannah and tall grass prairie of the Rice Lake Plains are badly fragmented and overgrown with non-native species.

Globally, these habitats are rare. Oak savannahs are considered among the most endangered ecological communities in North America. Grassland birds and other rare species, including eastern hog-nosed snake, depend on this habitat to survive.

Conservation status

Fortunately, the stewards of the Rice Lake Plains, including private landowners, Alderville First Nation, conservation groups and governments, have taken care of the land. Pockets of natural prairie and savannah seedbed are still intact. NCC is collaborating with private landowners and conservation partners to help restore prairie and savannah in the Rice Lake Plains, under the Rice Lake Plains Joint Initiative (RLPJI). You can read more about the collaborative's conservation efforts in the RLPJI's publication, the Savanna Sentinel.

History

Cultural history also abounds on the Rice Lake Plains, with links to early pioneer Catherine Parr Traill, renowned biologist John Macoun and Canadian poet Archibald Lampman.

Conservation status 

Fortunately, the stewards of the Rice Lake Plains, including private landowners, Alderville First Nation, conservation groups and governments, have taken care of the land. Pockets of natural prairie and savannah seedbed are still intact. NCC is collaborating with private landowners and conservation partners to help restore prairie and savannah in the Rice Lake Plains under the Rice Lake Plains Joint Initiative (RLPJI). You can read more about the collaborative's conservation efforts in the RLPJI's publication, the Savanna Sentinel.

Working with Indigenous communities

NCC is working in collaboration with the Alderville First Nation to take care of the land here and the species that rely on it. In addition to an annual butterfly count and prairie day hosted with the Nation, we have worked together to map host plants for mottled duskywing in the area. A species at risk, this work contributes to the recovery of this butterfly in the Rice Lake Plains.

We have also collaborated on native seed collecting in the area that is then transported to another site to ensure species are being distributed adequately, creating stable populations of native plants across the Rice Lake Plains.

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