Hiking the trails with your dog

Today’s post comes from our friends at the Invasive Species Centre.

The beauty of a hike does not need to be enjoyed alone; your dog can be a great companion as you adventure through your favourite park.

Do it well by planning before stepping foot, or paw, on the trail.

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The importance of research in Ontario Parks

Ever wondered about or wanted to pursue scientific research in a provincial park? Today’s post from Northwest Zone Ecologist Intern Lindsey Boyd and Northwest Senior Assistant Zone Ecologist Evan McCaul should answer your questions.

Spread throughout Ontario, our 340 provincial parks protect 8.27 million hectares of land and 1.3 million hectares of lakes and rivers. There are also 295 conservation reserves that form a protected areas network along with parks. From mosses to moose, protected areas provide endless research topics and opportunities.

Scientifically speaking, protected areas are an excellent place to conduct research. They can be used as a reference site to measure natural conditions within a broader landscape study, or provide an excellent place to study climate effects on species and systems in a place with fewer human pressures like roads or high levels of noise, light, and air pollution.

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How to raise environmentally conscious kids

Earth Week is an annual reminder of how important it is to celebrate our beautiful planet and do our part to protect it for future generations.

It’s also a timely reminder of how essential it is to instill a love – and respect – of the outdoors in our children. It’s something we can’t start too early.

Recent research shows that if you give kids (aged five to ten) an immersive experience in nature, it will lead to a lifelong love for the environment and a sense of stewardship for the earth. You’ll also likely produce more creative thinkers!

Algonquin Provincial Park Biologist Alison Lake offers these tips on how to raise environmentally conscious kids in an increasingly urban and regulated world:

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Are you an ethical wildlife photographer?

You’ve recently unwrapped the latest iphone or a shiny new digital camera, perhaps an SLR with some fancy lenses.

Now you have itchy shutter fingers. You’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 seven common photography infractions to ensure you’re keeping our parks safe and healthy.

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Let’s go plogging!

This post comes from Sarah McMichael, Ontario Parks’ Healthy Parks Healthy People Coordinator.

As the snow melts in the spring, you can often spot leftover trash along our roads, sidewalks, and trails.

How many times have you walked past this trash while out for a walk, run, or jog? Did you pick it up, or leave it on the ground?

A new environmentally friendly workout trend is encouraging you to stop and pick up litter during your outdoor exercises.

It’s called plogging, and it’s an amazing way to keep our environment and our bodies healthy at the same time.

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Keeping turtles off the hook

Today’s post comes from Amy Tanner, Biology/Ecology Intern with Ontario Parks’ Southwest Zone. 

Before heading out for a fun day of fishing, we all go through our checklists. Have we got:

But here are two questions many people don’t ask:

  • what other living things could I accidentally catch while fishing?
  • do I know how to handle an unexpected catch?

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Don’t leave it hanging

Our trees are spectacular organisms. They make oxygen, can live to be quite old, have beautiful foliage, provide homes and food for countless wildlife, and through transpiration of water through their leaves, can even influence the weather.

Maybe our trees do deserve some form of decoration or recognition?

I was out in my park the other day, and with the leaves gone, I did notice some brightly coloured decorations on a tree down the trail.

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Forever protected: why Petawawa Terrace belongs

Our “Forever protected” series shares why each and every one belongs in Ontario Parks. Our great system of protected areas is based upon a model of representation. In today’s post, Biologist Lauren Trute tells us Petawawa Terrace’s story.

For many families in the area, Petawawa Terrace Provincial Park is literally a park in their backyard.

Unlike many provincial parks in Ontario, Petawawa Terrace is not pristine wilderness. Locally known as the “fish hatchery park,” the 215 ha park is located in the heart of the Town of Petawawa.

This little parcel of protected land belongs in the Ontario Parks system because it gives us a glimpse into Ontario’s history, and represents provincially significant ecosystems and species.

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Going batty at Ontario Parks

Today’s post comes from Natural Heritage Education Supervisor Alistair MacKenzie and Bat Stewardship Technician Heather Sanders.

Bats are the only mammal capable of true sustained flight, and with over 1,300 species and counting, they make up the second largest order of mammals.

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Just keep swimming: the perilous journey of turtle hatchlings

Today’s post comes from Olivia Pomajba, a summer student at Rondeau Provincial Park.

A turtle hatchling making its way to water reminds us of the perilous journey we all face in life.

The world must seem incredibly vast to these centimetre-long hatchlings, and they face many challenges.

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