Low-impact backcountry camping

Today’s post was written by Brooke Michell, a Park Biologist at Kawartha Highlands Signature Site Park.

“The love of wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth, the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only paradise we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need.” – Edward Abbey

Some of our most treasured moments occur off the beaten path. In the backcountry of Ontario Parks, the avid hiker, canoe tripper, angler, and outdoors person seeks solitude. Although anyone who has backcountry camped knows it’s not always a walk in the park.

Physical limits are often pushed while portaging through rugged terrain, and paddling across windswept water bodies. At this expense, why is backcountry camping one of our most beloved past times?

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Winter track surveys

In today’s post, Ecologist Corina Brdar shares the “best part of [her] job.”

I’m an ecologist for Ontario Parks. When people ask me what exactly it is that I do, I have a hard time answering – my job is so diverse and interesting.

So I like to give the example of my favourite job duty: doing winter track surveys for deer.

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Blue Lake’s Spruce Fen Trail

Today’s post comes from Maya Oversby, a Natural Heritage Education Student at Blue Lake Provincial Park.

As humans, we tower over many things. Because of our height, we often miss some of the most magnificent parts of the boreal forest — specifically, its wetland ecology.

Here at Blue Lake, the spruce fen is one of the most traveled trails, home to some of our most noteworthy critters and fantastic flora. Unfortunately, many go unnoticed due to their small size.

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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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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 2019 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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Here’s to another 125 years

As our 125th anniversary year comes to a close, we would like to say a huge thank you for an amazing year.

Now etched into our history, here’s a few of the highlights from this exciting year.

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Resolutions for healthier parks

The New Year is a time to take stock of where we are and where we are headed. Most of us have made resolutions to change behaviours in order to start anew in 2019: quitting smoking, eating healthier, or exercising more.

Do you consider parks and protected areas when thinking of New Year’s Resolutions?

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When the sun goes down at Killarney

In today’s post, Biologist Intern Michelle Lawrence gives us an insider look at Killarney’s “nightlife,” and shares how staff are working to protect the park’s bat populations.

Killarney Provincial Park has been called “a crown jewel of the provincial parks system” by some, and it’s not hard to see why.

With white quartzite mountains and sparkling blue lakes, Killarney is truly a sight to behold. In Killarney’s wilderness, White Pine grow, live, and die; Moose munch on water lilies; and the forests and wetlands teem with warblers and other songbirds.

But when the sun goes down, not everyone in the park goes to sleep…

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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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A wriggling invasion

In celebration of World Soil Day, we’d like to highlight one of the greatest threats to Ontario’s natural soil systems – earthworms!

Yes, you read that correctly. Many of us have a hard time picturing earthworms as a destructive force. After all, who hasn’t been told that they’re natural composters, food for cheerfully bopping robins in the spring, and great recyclers in our gardens?

But there’s one important fact about earthworms that most people aren’t aware of: they’re not supposed to be here.

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