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McMahon Bluff, ON (Photo by Bert Jenkins)

McMahon Bluff, ON (Photo by Bert Jenkins)

McMahon Bluff

McMahon Bluff, ON (Photo by NCC)

McMahon Bluff, ON (Photo by NCC)

Help protect a piece of Prince Edward County’s wild south shore

McMahon Bluff is a natural gem on the southern shore of Prince Edward County. This 97-hectare (241-acre) property boasts steep slopes, cliff faces, forest, savannah, alvar and more than two kilometres of rare, undeveloped Lake Ontario shoreline. Its limestone cliffs rise almost 30 metres above the Bay of Quinte and the mouth of the Black River. Just north of the Prince Edward County South Shore Important Bird and Biodiversity Area, the property provides vital breeding and stopover habitat for migratory birds and supports a rich diversity of rare wildflowers and other plants.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has an immediate opportunity to protect this incredible property, and we need your help to protect it for the long term.

McMahon Bluff, ON (Photo by NCC)

McMahon Bluff, ON (Photo by NCC)

Biologists have recognized the significance of this natural feature for decades. If protected, McMahon Bluff will provide an important link in a chain of other conserved lands around the Prince Edward County South Shore.

NCC must raise $460,000 this winter to protect this important piece of Prince Edward County. The current landowner has generously agreed to donate the property, but NCC still needs to raise funds to cover associated costs for the acquisition, as well as to fund a management plan and vital, ongoing stewardship work for this property for the long term. Please consider making a gift or multi-year pledge to support this project.

McMahon Bluff holds a special place in the hearts and minds of the local community. In recent years, there has been concern that the property might be developed. About 10 years ago, there was a valiant attempt by the community, led by Hastings-Prince Edward Land Trust, to acquire the property for conservation.

This historic opportunity comes on the heels of an announcement by the Province of Ontario to begin the process of establishing a conservation reserve covering roughly 1,600 hectares (4,000 acres) of provincial lands on the south shore of Prince Edward County. The McMahon Bluff project will be an important complement to this larger, growing movement to protect special natural spaces in the County.

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Quick facts

  • Location: southeastern shore of Prince Edward County on Prince Edward Bay, at the mouth of the Black River. Approximately 12 kilometres southeast of Picton.
  • Habitat type: shoreline, upland deciduous forest, savanna, alvar meadow, limestone alvar
  • Size: 97 hectares (241 acres)
  • Total project budget: $2,678,000
  • Total fundraising goal: $460,000
  • Species: endangered plant species, wood thrush, eastern wood-pewee, bald eagle, bat species

Eastern Lake Ontario Coast: A priority for conservation

Bald eagle (Photo by Jeannine Bryan)

Bald eagle (Photo by Jeannine Bryan)

NCC is actively working to help conserve priority lands along the Lake Ontario coast, from Brighton and Presqu’ile Provincial Park to just west of Gananoque. The area also stretches south to include Prince Edward County and associated coastal islands, including Wolfe Island. This scenic and historic landscape contains a rich mosaic of coastal wetlands, forests, streams, sand beaches and dunes, islands and alvars. It includes world-class coastline and provides critical habitat for migratory birds. The area is home to a multitude of plant and animal species, many of which are provincially, nationally and globally rare.

The landscape has a long history, both human and natural. Lands around eastern Lake Ontario are on the traditional territories of the Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee Peoples. After the American War of Independence and War of 1812, this was one of the first places settled by early Empire Loyalists. During this time, many Indigenous Peoples relocated to the region from other areas. With gratitude and respect, we acknowledge the significant contributions Indigenous Peoples have, and continue to make, on these lands.

Prince Edward County south shore

Wood thrush (Photo by Steve Maslowski, USFWS)

Wood thrush (Photo by Steve Maslowski, USFWS)

The South Shore of Prince Edward County has exceptional natural heritage value due to the habitats and species it supports. It is designated as an important bird and biodiversity area (IBA); an area that is globally important for bird conservation, according to internationally agreed-upon scientific criteria.

The South Shore IBA encompasses about 30 kilometres of shoreline. It is the only lengthy, undeveloped strip of shoreline remaining in Prince Edward County; indeed, one of the few shorelines of Lake Ontario that has remained undeveloped. NCC is actively working with the local community and the South Shore Joint Initiative to keep this region natural and intact.

The popularity of Prince Edward County has skyrocketed in recent years, and opportunities to protect undeveloped lands are becoming increasingly rare. NCC, Hastings-Prince Edward Land Trust and our other partners have a rare chance to protect this important mosaic of habitats before it’s too late. But we need to act fast.

A natural legacy

When it comes to conserving Canada’s most important natural areas, buying land is just the beginning. Stewardship — managing the land for the long-term — is at the heart of what we do. Each and every property we protect is monitored and managed so that the ecosystems are maintained and species thrive — even if that means leaving it be. This can include mapping and removing invasive species, restoring wetlands, grasslands and forests, monitoring for species at risk, planting native species, building trails or installing signage.

In order to continue to care for the natural areas we protect, NCC has created a Stewardship Endowment Fund. This fund provides annual support for our priority stewardship work across Ontario. Annual benefits from the endowment fund are used to pay the costs necessary to ensure efficient and long-term, science-based management of lands under NCC’s care.

NCC may direct all or a portion of gifts committed to this project to NCC’s Stewardship Endowment Fund for Ontario. Revenue generated by the Stewardship Endowment Fund provides for long-term management on properties across the province, including NCC conservation lands in Prince Edward County. In the event that this project becomes fully funded or cannot be carried out, your gift will be allocated to the next urgent priority in this natural area.

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