Charleston Lake bay

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:

1. Preserving dead trees

Tree with lots of holes from wildlife

Often you’ll see these tree trunks covered in woodpecker holes.

Sounds odd, right?

They may not be pretty, but these standing dead trees provide food sources and habitat to many species.

When we’re cutting dead and dangerous trees, we try to leave the main stem standing wherever possible.

2. Rehabbing campsites

Sturgeon Bay campsite

Ever find your favorite campsite is closed? Sometimes, campsites need a break so they aren’t loved to death!

With constant wear and tear, grassy campsites can get ground down to hard-packed dirt. Laying some sod and grass seed, and giving the site time to recuperate makes a huge difference.

3. NOT cutting the grass

Bees in parks

If you spot wood-stake-and-rope fences in a park, it might be an effort to allow vegetation time to grow back.

The park is likely reducing grass cutting in this area and marking off this area so staff and visitors know to stay out. Over time, as the vegetation grows back, it’s wonderful to observe all the insects, frogs and birds that can take over this newfound habitat!

4. Stamping out invasives

Now we all know we NEVER pick wild plants when in parks…so why are staff doing it?

If you see a uniformed staff pulling plants, it’s a good bet they’re picking garlic mustard. When ignored, this nasty invasive species can completely take over the campground!

Garlic mustard removal at Sandbanks Provincial Park

Garlic mustard along Lakeview Trail at Sandbanks
Lakeview Trail (before removal)
Garlic mustard removed from along Lakeview Trail at Sandbanks
Lakeview Trail (after removal)

This spring, Sandbanks’ team hand-pulled 60 garbage bags of garlic mustard.

Twenty-four bags were plucked in a single day by three NHE students, and 12 more bags were added by the Geo Venture group from Moira Secondary School.  Bravo to everyone who helped!

Buckthorn removal at Sandbanks Provincial Park

Buckthorn removal at Sandbanks

And it’s not just garlic mustard.

Over the past two summers, Team Sandbanks removed roughly 2000 m2 of common buckthorn. This aggressive shrub alters nitrogen levels in soil and outcompetes native species.

5. Safeguarding our at-risk species

Turtle study
Park biologists and naturalists, study these species. Remember: as a park visitor, you shouldn’t try to catch any wildlife yourself 🙂

Summers certainly keep our staff busy.

But did you know that while our park rangers are working hard to maintain the campground, they’re also keeping a sharp eye our for rare and endangered species in their parks.

We report these sightings to provincial databases helps track populations and assists in scientific research.

(Pst — this is a job we’d love your help with!).