Protected islet on the Richelieu River, QC (Photo by NCC)

Protected islet on the Richelieu River, QC (Photo by NCC)

Conservation group protects five islets on the Richelieu River

April 3, 2022


Important habitat for severable vulnerable species and a rare turtle

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is acquiring five islets in the Richelieu River in the Montérégie region to ensure the future of the plants and animals found on them. Located on either side of Île aux Noix, which houses the Fort Lennox National Historic Site, these islets include wetlands with rich terrestrial and aquatic life.

These new properties, consisting of eight hectares of marsh, wet meadows and treed swamps, were acquired by NCC as part of the Projet de partenariat pour les milieux naturels. Staff will return to survey them later this year to identify the species on them. The abundance of plant and animal species in nearby nature reserves on the banks of the Richelieu River suggests these islands with similar habitats likely include similar species.

The five islets are ideal habitat for several threatened species, including least bittern. This bird, the smallest heron in North America, has been designated as vulnerable in Quebec and threatened in Canada. In Quebec, it is found only in the extreme south of the province. It has been recorded on Île aux Noix, and NCC hopes that the protection of neighbouring islets will ensure the species’ survival in the region.

Several years ago, the Richelieu River counted among the species that live there the spiny softshell turtle, which has now disappeared from the area. This species, designated as threatened in Quebec, is found only in the Pike River (further east). However, there is information that suggests a possible presence of this turtle in the vicinity of Île aux Noix. Although such reports have not yet been verified by experts, NCC hopes to obtain clear answers during its field survey in the summer of 2022.

These islands belonged to the Racicot-Toupin family for several decades. The father, Yves Racicot, had bought them in 1964 to camp there with his family in the summers. Inspired by these memories, the family’s three children now wish to protect this rich natural area and the wonders it shelters.

This project showcases how NCC is accelerating the pace of conservation in Canada. In the past two years alone, NCC has influenced the protection of more than 1 million hectares (almost twice the size of Prince Edward Island), coast to coast to coast. Over the next few years, the organization will double its impact by mobilizing Canadians and delivering permanent, large-scale conservation.

In the face of rapid biodiversity loss and climate change, nature is our ally. There is no solution to either without nature conservation. When nature thrives, we all thrive.


“Every piece of land, no matter how small, makes a difference in protecting Quebec’s land and the species found there. I am confident that NCC will contribute to the protection of habitats and the survival of vulnerable or endangered species that may be found on the landscape. Thank you to NCC for this important conservation project, made possible thanks to the funds we granted them through the Projet de partenariat pour les milieux naturels.- Benoit Charette, Minister of the Environment and the Fight against Climate Change, Minister Responsible for the Fight against Racism and Minister Responsible for the Laval Region

 “I was fortunate to be able to travel by boat to the islets when they were acquired. Although they are only small parcels of land, their biodiversity is rich. You can see how much the previous owners respected and cared forthese natural habitats. They are in wonderful condition.” - Chantal Cloutier, project manager at the Nature Conservancy of Canada


NCC thanks the Racicot-Toupin family for selling their property so that its natural values could be conserved. We also thank the financial partners who made this acquisition possible: the Government of Quebec, through the Projet de partenariat pour les milieux naturels, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (through its North American Wetlands Conservation Act).


  • Several bird species in the area, including bald eagle, are designated as vulnerable in Quebec. The river redhorse fish is also designated as provincially vulnerable.


The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the country’s unifying force for nature. NCC seeks solutions to the twin crises of rapid biodiversity loss and climate change through large-scale, permanent land conservation. As a trusted partner, NCC works with people, communities, businesses and government to protect and care for our country’s most important natural areas. Since 1962, NCC has brought Canadians together to conserve and restore more than 15 million hectares.

In Quebec, nearly 50,000 hectares have been protected. Together with nature, we are creating a more prosperous world. To learn more, visit natureconservancy.ca.

The Projet de partenariat pour les milieux naturels (PPMN) is a four-year grant of more than $53 million from the Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques to NCC. The PPMN provides support for voluntary conservation initiatives to ensure the protection of natural areas of interest by establishing financial partnerships with conservation organizations in the province. The PPMN thus aims to develop and consolidate Quebec’s network of protected areas located on private lands. It follows the Ensemble pour la nature project, which ended on March 31, 2020, and had similar goals.

The North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) is a program administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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Media Contact:

Audrey Martel
Communications & marketing assistant (B.Sc. Biology)
Nature Conservancy of Canada
877-876-5444 x6222

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