Sandbanks superhero wins Ecological Integrity Award

We’re proud to announce the winner of this year’s Ontario Parks Ecological Integrity Award: Yvette Bree, our Natural Heritage Education Coordinator at Sandbanks Provincial Park!

Yvette has given decades of dedicated, passionate service, protecting the ecological integrity of one of our busiest parks.
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The IBAs of Polar Bear Provincial Park

This installment of our 2017 blog series IBAs in provincial parks — brought to you by Ontario IBA Coordinator Amanda Bichel of Bird Studies Canada — is very “cool.” 

Welcome to our year-long blog series! For our inaugural spotlight, we are staying in the winter spirit and focusing on Ontario’s far north. That’s right: our worlds collide up there in a big way.

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Happy World Wetlands Day!

Bog. Swamp. Fen. Marsh. Muck, mud and mire…

It sounds terrible, doesn’t it? When movie directors want to make things hard for their characters, they sometimes pick a wetland to chuck them into – think Humphrey Bogart in the classic movie “African Queen”, where he struggles day after day to pull his boat through an impenetrable swamp.

Wetlands get a bad rap, but they are hugely important to all of us. Without them, things would be a lot more difficult on old Planet Earth.  Like big sponges, they store water from snows and rains, and then let it out when things get dry. They provide rich habitats for plants and animals to live in, and they create “biodiversity”: the variety of life.

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Are you an ethical wildlife photographer?

The holidays have come and gone, and many of us unwrapped the latest iphone or a shiny new digital camera, perhaps an SLR with some fancy lenses.

We now have itchy shutter fingers. We’re ready to point our camera at something spectacular and capture a beautiful memory forever. But where to go?

Not to brag, but Ontario Parks are beautiful, iconic places. Covering nearly 10% of the province and protecting some of Ontario’s most rare and scenic habitats, our parks are home to a variety of wildlife, from fascinating insects to enormous moose.

Basically, they’re a photographer’s dreamscape.

We’re animal lovers too. We know how exhilarating wildlife encounters can be. We understand how badly you want that perfect photo.

But before you hit the road, ask yourself: is taking the perfect photograph worth risking an animal’s life or an ecosystem’s health?

If your answer is “no,” check out our list of 7 common photography infractions to ensure you’re keeping our parks safe and healthy.

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Mark S. Burnham buckthorn blitz

Today’s post was compiled by Zone Ecologist Corina Brdar, Project Ecologist Christine Terwissen and other members of Team Invasive Alien.

If you’ve visited Mark S. Burnham Provincial Park lately you might have noticed many freshly cut small stumps. This is the result of a recent blitz to remove an alien invasive species — European buckthorn — from the park.

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Introducing…IBAs in Ontario Parks!

We’re jazzed to introduce a new series for 2017 — IBAs in provincial parks — brought to you by Ontario IBA Coordinator Amanda Bichel of Bird Studies Canada. If you love birds, you won’t want to miss these monthly features.

Wondering what an IBA is? The acronym stands for “Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas.”

The IBA program aims to identify, monitor and protect the world’s most important sites for birds and biodiversity.

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A nature-lover’s New Year’s resolutions

Today’s post comes from Alistair MacKenzie, Natural Heritage Education Supervisor at Pinery Provincial Park.

Alistair at PineryAs we begin a brand new year, many of us make personal resolutions to try to better ourselves, or to help our families and communities.

I’ll be making several personal resolutions (darn sour-cream-glazed dougnuts!), but in addition, I am choosing 2017 as the year to make some resolutions for parks and protected areas. 

As I work and play in Ontario Parks’ many incredible landscapes, most of my efforts will take effect there, but I am not planning on limiting my efforts…I’ll include any green spaces I can find!

I’m just one person, so I would encourage you to help.  You may want to create a different list for yourself, but our parks can certainly use the help, so please consider giving back to our protected areas.

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5 small ways we protect what’s precious

Here at Ontario Parks, preserving the province’s ecological integrity is always on our minds.

You’ve heard about our bigger projects, like:

But did you know ecological integrity is part of our everyday jobs?

Check out these five “mini” ecological integrity tasks:

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Beach therapy: some TLC for our most popular shorelines

Today’s post comes from Assistant Zone Ecologist Jenni Kaija, who shares a story of ecological restoration unfolding at Long Point Provincial Park.

As I made my way down to the sandy shoreline of Cottonwood campground in Long Point Provincial Park, I was overjoyed to spot a huge flock of gull and tern species resting just off shore.

Fall is one of my favourite times to spend time in our provincial parks. Everything was quite peaceful, and the birds seemed to be enjoying the quiet as much as I was.

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A naturalist’s letter to Santa Claus

One of our naturalists left his letter to Santa out on his desk, and we wanted to share a copy, in case anyone out there wants to lend Mr. Claus a hand this year.

Dear Santa,

I don’t really need a lot this year as I have the privilege of working in one of our great provincial parks: Presqu’ile. Perhaps you’ve visited or seen it as you fly over?

It is pretty easy to pick out from the air, sticking into Lake Ontario like it does. We get lots of birds landing here on migration to rest, which many people like to come and see. You’d be welcome to have a break here too.

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