Making a difference at Ontario Parks

Wanna be impressed? Take a look at these education and resource protection programs at Ontario Parks. All have been made possible thanks to the generous support that Ontario Parks receives from park Friends groups, corporate partners and private donors.

The Wildlife Research Station weekend was such a success in 2010 that the Friends of Algonquin Park have already planned another for May 27-30, 2011. Participants join researchers in the field to experience the science behind wildlife research. Base camp is the Algonquin Park Wildlife Research Station. Accommodation and meals are included. Built in 1944, this research station has an impressive record of wildlife studies that includes Canada’s longest ongoing life history project of turtles. The weekend workshop is part of the Experience Algonquin series presented by The Friends of Algonquin Park. All proceeds go towards enhancing the educational and interpretive programs in Algonquin Provincial Park and towards the research programs of the Wildlife Research Station. To find out how to get involved, contact the Friends of Algonquin Park at groupeducation@algonquinpark.on.ca

For the last three years, researchers at Ontario Parks have found that Yellow-spotted salamanders have been returning to Bat Lake in Algonquin Provincial Park earlier than previous years to lay their eggs. Climate change has been pegged as the catalyst for their early return. This research project is important for understanding how climate change is affecting the Yellow-spotted salamander and for providing more data on the effect of climate change on other wetland species. Mountain Equipment Co-op sponsored the Yellow-spotted salamander research. It is one of thirty Canadian businesses that have helped Ontario Parks provide greater protection of Ontario’s natural and cultural heritage resources. Corporate partners also create new outdoor recreation opportunities and they help the parks support local economies.

In 2010, Killarney Provincial Park celebrated twenty five years of stargazing with a Star Party and a new observatory. Bruce Waters, an astronomer and Killarney supporter, donated the new 10 inch Mead LX5 telescope. He also donated 25 years of Starry Starry Nights programs and text for a book that will be published by the Friends of Killarney. The Friends group funded the observatory’s new deck too. Astronomy programming at Killarney and other Ontario Parks is becoming increasingly popular. At several parks, stargazing weekends are held every year. Royal Astronomy Society Canada members and their giant society telescopes will lead an astronomy weekend at Quetico, August 26-28, 2011. The last week of August promises a new moon and the night skies are expected to be brilliant. Astronomy and other park education programs are listed at http://www.ontarioparks.com/events. Events are updated through the year so check back often.

Through Friends groups corporate sponsorships and A Lasting Gift , park programming and research is making a difference at Ontario Parks.