NCC staffer Val Deziel and guests at Hazel Bird Day this past May, Rice Lake Plains, ON (Photo by Lisa Milosavljevic/Evermaven)

NCC staffer Val Deziel and guests at Hazel Bird Day this past May, Rice Lake Plains, ON (Photo by Lisa Milosavljevic/Evermaven)

2018 was a great year in Ontario

Tagging an eastern loggerhead shrike in the Napanee Plain, ON (Photo by Vincent Luk/Evermaven)

Tagging an eastern loggerhead shrike in the Napanee Plain, ON (Photo by Vincent Luk/Evermaven)

As the birds fly south, wetlands freeze and alvars become covered with snow, stewardship and conservation staff in Ontario have hung up their hats and put away their hiking boots for another season to take stock of what was accomplished. 2018 was a great year in Ontario. We conserved more land, connected more Canadians to nature and inspired some of the best and brightest of the next generation of conservation scientists.

Conserve

From Pelee Island in the south, to Lake Superior in the north, to the Frontenac Arch in the east, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) successfully completed 14 projects in Ontario this year, securing 4,784 acres (1,936 hectares) of conservation land valued at over $8.3 million!

NCC’s largest conservation project on the north shore of Lake Superior (Photo by Costal Productions)

NCC’s largest conservation project on the north shore of Lake Superior (Photo by Costal Productions)

Among these newly protected properties is vital habitat for species at risk in the Minesing Wetlands, a key wildlife corridor along the Rideau Waterway in the Frontenac Arch, and rare coastal wetlands on Black Bay on the north shore of Lake Superior.

This past July, NCC celebrated the protection of an additional 78 acres (32 hectares) on the Napanee Plain Alvar Nature Reserve. This expansion is a known nesting site for the eastern loggerhead shrike, an endangered predatory song bird. The Napanee Plain is a rich complex of wetlands, forests, lakes, grasslands and alvars, and is home to several other federally listed species at risk, including eastern meadowlark, least bittern and juniper sedge. These properties represent the diversity Ontario has to offer, and each of these properties is now protected for the long term.

The restored stream at the Creemore Nature Preserve that now houses a variety of wildlife, ON (Photo by NCC)

The restored stream at the Creemore Nature Preserve that now houses a variety of wildlife, ON (Photo by NCC)

When it comes to conserving Canada’s natural habitats, securing land is just the beginning. NCC takes great pride in ensuring that protected properties are monitored and managed so that the plants and animals found on our sites today survive and thrive for now and future generations. This summer, NCC staff have been busy restoring native habitat, controlling invasive species, installing signs and fencing, maintaining trails and monitoring at-risk and rare plants and animals on our properties.

A five-year pond and stream restoration project was completed at the Creemore Nature Preserve this past year. The restored stream on the property supports trout and other cold water fishes, as well as various frogs and aquatic insects. Additionally, trail improvements took place, which will help guide visitors and protect surrounding habitat.

Connect

In addition to our core conservation work, a continued focus for NCC is engaging the public in our work and connecting people to nature through volunteer opportunities, events, newspaper articles and social media.

In honour of World Migratory Bird Day, NCC hosted over 100 guests at the inaugural Hazel Bird Day, a family-friendly event with hikes, talks and a BBQ lunch at the Hazel Bird Nature Reserve on the Rice Lake Plains. Named after a local naturalist and bird enthusiast, this property is home to species at risk, including many grassland birds and eastern hog-nosed snake.

We continue to provide volunteer opportunities for the public to learn about NCC properties, spend time in nature, meet NCC staff and fellow nature lovers, and enjoy a meaningful, hands-on educational experience in ecologically significant parts of the province. So far this year we have held over 49 Conservation Volunteers events across Ontario.

“Volunteering with NCC was such a rewarding experience and a lot of fun! It’s a great way to be able to contribute to the protection and prosperity of an area. You learn a lot, you’re outdoors, and you’re active - what more could you want from a volunteer experience!” - Joshua Wood, conservation volunteer, Guelph

Inspire

NCC Conservation Technician, Aidan O’Brien, helps volunteers identify various species at the Minesing Wetlands Dragonfly Count (Photo by NCC)

NCC Conservation Technician, Aidan O’Brien, helps volunteers identify various species at the Minesing Wetlands Dragonfly Count (Photo by NCC)

This year, 23 conservation technicians and interns, posted across Ontario, grew their skills in conservation and became ambassadors for NCC’s work in local communities. From forest maintenance and trail building, to working with Conservation Volunteers and monitoring properties, our interns have helped protect habitat for generations to come.

“It is truly an honour to work with such a great organization dedicated to protecting Canada’s outstanding natural diversity. I have learned so much during my time with NCC, and am truly grateful for the skills and knowledge that I have been provided to advance my career in environmental protection.” - Aidan O’Brien, conservation technician, central Ontario-west

Looking ahead to 2019

NCC recently went public with our Leave Your Landmark Campaign the single largest private investment ever in Canadian conservation. It’s the most ambitious fundraising initiative in our 56-year history. It’s absolutely vital to the health of Canada’s environment. This $750-million campaign is already 74 per cent of the way to completion!

Throughout the life of this campaign, a minimum of 3.2 million acres (1.3 million hectares) will be protected, bringing NCC’s total lands conserved to 6 million acres (2.4 million hectares). In Ontario our goal is to invest $100 million in the province over the life of the campaign, and we are well on our way!

Cockburn Island, Manitoulin Islands Archipelago ON (Photo by NCC)

Cockburn Island, Manitoulin Islands Archipelago ON (Photo by NCC)

Looking ahead, we have identified several high priority properties for acquisition across Ontario, including additional land on Cockburn Island in the Manitoulin Island Archipelago, new acquisitions in the Frontenac Arch and NCC’s first property in Prince Edward County.

As well as looking for opportunities to protect additional land, we will continue to monitor and manage our existing properties. In addition, we plan to continue engaging the public in our work through Conservation Volunteers opportunities, the NatureTalks speaker series and the Nature Destinations program. We hope to see you at one of our properties or at an event in the future!

Our hope is that by continuing our securement and stewardship work, NCC’s properties will provide larger and better quality habitat for the diverse flora and fauna that call Ontario home.

We are happy that you share our vision to protect Canada’s most precious habitats that play an important role in the lives of so many people.

From all of us at NCC in Ontario, we wish you a very Happy Holidays and all of the best for the new year. See you in 2019!

Supporter Spotlight

Atlantic puffins (Photo by Bill Caulfield-Browne)