Friends of Ontario Parks

The next time you walk the boardwalk at Presqu’ile Provincial Park or attend the Huron Fringe Birding Festival at MacGregor Point Provincial Park, thank a Friend. 

Friends of Ontario Parks are not-for-profit, charitable organizations full of dedicated volunteers. These volunteers usually hail from a nearby community or they’ve camped in a park that they’ve grown to love and respect. Today, there are 27 not-for-profit Friends organizations dedicated to enhancing the educational, recreational, research and resource protection mandates of the parks they are affiliated with.

If you want to become a Friends volunteer at your favourite park, contact a Friends group directly. But if your park doesn’t have a Friends group and you are interested in starting one, speak to your local park superintendent.   http://www.ontarioparks.com/partnerships/

Some of Ontario Parks’ best events are organized by Friends. Here are two you won’t want to miss in 2014:

Continue reading Friends of Ontario Parks

Ice-Out Canoeing: A spring tradition for adventurous paddlers

It’s a rite of passage for many die-hard paddlers and it’s only a couple of weeks away….an ice out canoe trip.  So what’s the attraction?   It’s a moment of celebration, a time for paddlers to break free of the winter blahs, the sweet spot before the annoyance of spring bugs.  As long as you’re well prepared, an ice-out paddle can be the ultimate early spring adventure. Continue reading Ice-Out Canoeing: A spring tradition for adventurous paddlers

3 events in Ontario Parks among Top 100 in the Province

Hundreds of regional and community events are hosted annually across Ontario and each year Festivals and Events Ontario honours the top 100. Selected as the “best of the best”, the awards acknowledge the dedication it takes to successfully organize and execute some of the top festivals and events in the world.

This year, thanks to the hard work of our Friends Organizations and Staff, Ontario Parks is delighted to announce that three of our events made it on to this prestigious list. If you are looking to spend some time with friends or family, check out why these three events were singled out as “best-in-class”. Continue reading 3 events in Ontario Parks among Top 100 in the Province

Wasaga Beach Provincial Park Piping Plover Program Won ECO Award

Congratulations to Wasaga Beach Provincial Park (WBPP) staff, the many volunteers and the Friends of Nancy Island and Wasaga Beach Park for receiving the prestigious Environmental Commissioner of Ontario’s (ECO) 2013 Recognition Award for their role in protecting the endangered Piping Plovers.

Listed as an endangered species in Canada and the United States, the arrival of the Piping Plovers at Wasaga Beach in 2006 marked a significant turning point as this species had not successfully nested on the Canadian Great Lakes for over 30 years, and had no breeding success at the park in over 70 years.

The Wasaga Beach Provincial Park Piping Plover Program has been helping to foster awareness, appreciation and understanding of the plight of the Piping Plovers in the Great Lakes region for six consecutive years. The program attracted support from many volunteers and community partners. Together the WBPP staff and the Piping Plover Guardians, a group of 40-80 volunteers who work three-hour shifts, monitor the Piping Plovers and protect them from predators daily. And, they do it every day in the middle of one of Ontario’s busiest beaches from spring until late August.

Last year there were 66 breeding pairs in the Great Lakes population of which five were on the Canadian side in Ontario with two nests at Wasaga Beach. Thanks to the tireless efforts of WBPP staff, the volunteers and the community partners, the 2013 program’s success rate was the highest since its inception: 63 per cent of the eggs hatched into fledgling chicks. This is a vast improvement over the 25 per cent average survival rate of Piper Plovers in the wild.

Keep up the great work!

Did You Know?

  • The ECO’s Recognition Award acknowledges ministries that best meet the goals of the Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993 (EBR) or use the best internal EBR practices.
  • WBPP staff monitor the entire 14 km of beachfront starting early in the spring watching for the arrival of piping plovers. Once pair bonds are established, staff monitor courtship and breeding.
  • After a single, sand-coloured egg is discovered; staff set up a perimeter fence and the area is closed for 50 metres either side of the egg. A predator enclosure is installed after the fourth egg is laid – this ensures the nest is protected from predators.
  • Park staff and Piping Plover Guardians then monitor the plovers on a daily basis from 8 am – 8 pm until the plovers’ departure in late August.