parks pass and invasive species awareness

Our 2016 parks pass is more than just a pretty flower

summer passNoticed the dainty purple flower adorning the 2016 summer pass for Ontario Parks?

It may surprise you to learn that when Ontario Parks staff discovers that flower in a park, they often rip it out by the roots.

That’s because spotted knapweed is…


This noxious plant can be found along roadsides and meadows in southern Ontario, where it can spread into natural meadows and prairies. It produces thousands of seeds per year, and also releases chemicals into the soil that slow the growth of other plants. It is one of many unwelcome invasive species to Ontario’s provincial parks.

Why is Ontario Parks so worried about invasive species?

Invasive species are a major threat to ecological integrity. They often crowd out natural species and adversely affect the rich biodiversity parks are committed to protecting.

european buckthorn removal at burnt lands alvar
Park staff removing European buckthorn removal from Burnt Lands Provincial Park

Managing high-risk invasive species is a crucial and regular part of Ontario Parks’ business, and can include:

  • cutting down invasive trees like Scots pine
  • carefully using herbicides to spray invasive wetland plants, such as the common reed
  • physically pulling out invasive plants like garlic mustard
garlic mustard removal at murphy's point
Parks staff removing garlic mustard at Murphys Point Provincial Park.

And invasive species aren’t just a problem for parks; they’re a serious threat to the entire province

They cost our economy tens of millions of dollars each year. They also put resource-based jobs at risk – including those in recreational and commercial fisheries, tourism, the forest industry and agriculture.

The new act

In an effort to bolster the fight against invasive species, the Ontario Government recently passed a new law — The Invasive Species Act — which will support the prevention, early detection, rapid response and eradication of invasive species in the province.

park staff removing invasivesThis new legislation includes measures to enhance actions by partners, and encourages shared accountability for managing invasive species in Ontario.

The new law comes into force this November. In the coming months, staff from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry will be engaging stakeholders and the public in developing policies and guidelines to support the act.

You can help too!

Educate yourself and others about invasive species

The more people are educated on invasive species and how they may be avoided, the better. You can learn more about invasive species here.

Don’t forget to share what you learn with family, friends, co-workers, and neighbours.

Report sightings of invasive species

If you see an invasive species, you can help by calling the Invading Species Hotline at 1-800-563-7711 or email to report sightings.

If you have a smartphone, you can download a free app to report invasive species.

Take action to slow the spread of invasive species in our parks

bait bucket dump
Anglers: NEVER dump your bait bucket in the water.
  • Clean your clothes, footwear, equipment and camping gear before entering a provincial park
  • Remove mud off your vehicle tires
  • Ensure that invasive plants are not brought into your home garden or nearby natural areas through commercial greenhouses or landscaping
  • When fishing, drain your bait bucket at least 30 metres from water
  • NEVER dump yard waste in a natural area or provincial park, as this increases the probability of introducing invasive plants

And when you pick up your summer park pass, don’t forget to show your friends and family what spotted knapweed looks like and encourage them to help report its spread.