Forever protected: why Westmeath belongs

Our “Forever protected” series shares why each and every one belongs in Ontario Parks. In today’s post, Biologist Lauren Trute tells us Westmeath’s story.

Westmeath Provincial Park, located approximately 15 km from the City of Pembroke, is one of the most ecologically diverse provincial parks in Renfrew County.

This 610 ha park sits on the shore of the mighty Ottawa River, and offers a glimpse into the glacial history of the Ottawa Valley. This site was also likely an important stopover area for Indigenous peoples and fur traders travelling along the waterway.

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Forever protected: why Pinery belongs

Our “Forever protected” series shares why each and every one belongs in Ontario Parks. In today’s post, Alistair MacKenzie tells us Pinery’s story.

Not until I began working for Ontario Parks did I realize that our great system of protected areas is based upon a model of representation. Each park is different and critical to the success of our protected areas system on the whole.

I am the Supervisor of Natural Heritage Education and Resource Management at Pinery Provincial Park, and I’d like to tell you why Pinery belongs in our provincial system.

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Do the skies need our protection?

Stars as seen in midnight’s gaze
Stars shining upon shoreline’s haze
Guiding us, teaching us with stories manifold
About ourselves, stars speak, from birth till old.
Their permanence ties us to days gone by
But to hide their secrets, they still do try
To gaze upon them brings dreams of futures bright
But to see them vanish, is to lose much delight.

~Bruce Waters

At Ontario Parks, we’re committed to the protection and preservation of our province’s biodiversity. The night skies in their natural splendour are an important part of that protection.

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Forever protected

We all know Ontario’s provincial parks aim to protect our natural landscapes and species.

But did you know that each individual park is protected for its own (often very specific) reasons?

Our parks work together as a network of biodiversity and protection. Whether an immense wilderness or a small urban nature reserve, every park plays a critical role in the protection of our biodiversity, including representative ecosystems, species, and cultural heritage.

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The Spotted Salamander, harbinger of spring

Salamanders are iconic and influential members of northern forest communities. As one of the most abundant vertebrates in eastern North American forests, salamanders are considered “keystone species” because of their disproportionate roles as predators and prey in regulating food webs, nutrient cycling, and contributing to ecosystem resilience-resistance.

In addition to fulfilling key ecological functions, amphibians are our modern-day “canaries in the coal mine,” serving as a measure of environmental health.

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Keeping up with the Canada Jay

Today’s blog post comes from bird researchers Alex Sutton and Koley Freeman, PhD candidates at the University of Guelph.

In the world of Canada Jays, winter means one thing: it’s breeding season!

Canada Jays are common in Algonquin Provincial Park. Continuing a 55 year-old tradition, a dedicated team of researchers is monitoring breeding pairs. This is the longest study of its kind in the world!

With each passing year, more is learned about the breeding behaviour and life history of these remarkable birds.

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Turtle eggs and salamander spawn: spring monitoring at Grundy Lake

Today’s article comes from Emily Wright, Discovery Program Leader at Grundy Lake Provincial Park.

Spring at Grundy Lake is a quiet time of year. The lake waters are cold from the melting snow and ice, birds are just starting to arrive from their long migrations, and visitors are few and far between.

Park staff, however, are often busy and bustling about as they begin to prepare for another season of campers.

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A trip down the Pakeshkag River at Grundy Lake Provincial Park

Today’s post comes from Sonje Bols, a naturalist at Grundy Lake Provincial Park.

Part of a park naturalist’s job is to familiarize themselves with the natural and cultural wonders of their park through exploration.

Whether it’s tramping through bogs to catch and identify dragonflies, flipping rocks to look for snakes, or canoeing along ancient Indigenous canoe routes, naturalists set out to observe and explore every inch of their parks so they can bring that knowledge and experience to park visitors and managers.

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A new house for Barn Swallows at Rondeau

In today’s post, Caitlin Sparks, a Senior Park Interpreter, shares a wonderful species-at-risk success story from Rondeau Provincial Park.

The Barn Swallow is a commonly seen bird around southern Ontario.

Actually, the most common and widespread of swallow species in the world!

So why — might you ask — are their numbers declining so much that they’re deemed a “threatened” species in Ontario? And what are we doing to help protect them?

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Invasive species in our parks: what’s your role?

In today’s post, Amy Hall, a resource management group leader, gets us up to speed on invasive species, and shares some of the great prevention work happening at Pinery Provincial Park.

It’s Invasive Species Awareness Week!

No matter what role you play in parks, you are an essential part of preventing the spread of invasive species in Ontario.

Which of these anti-invasive heroes sounds like you?

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