Worst of the worst: a naturalist’s list of the most harmful types of litter

Today Yvette Bree, a Discovery Leader at Sandbanks Provincial Park for over 30 years, shares some thoughts about this season. 

2022 will go down as — to put it mildly — a difficult year for many people.

Although affected by the world around me, I choose to acknowledge that I am pretty lucky: I live in a great country, a great province, and have enjoyed a career in a stunningly beautiful park.

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Ecological integrity in southeastern parks

In today’s post, Protected Areas Intern Katelyn Vardy highlights a few of the projects that staff have completed to improve and maintain the ecological integrity in southeastern parks.

When you’re standing in a favourite nature spot or within a park, it’s easy to embrace the beauty and calmness that surrounds you.

While campers and day trippers enjoy all that parks have to offer, behind the scenes are teams of staff working incredibly hard. Their work helps to protect these areas so that they can be enjoyed for years to come.

Here’s a look at some of the projects that we have completed to support the ecological integrity of southeastern parks.

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Why are snakes so misunderstood?

We often hear our visitors say how much they fear or hate snakes.

Ophidiophobia, the name for an intense fear of snakes, is certainly a legitimate condition, and we do not judge anyone who struggles with it.

Many of our own staff are working through this fear. No one chooses to have a phobia. The outdoors should be a place for relaxation and rejuvenation, not the constant fear of a chance encounter with a native species.

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Square bashes with the Breeding Bird Atlas

Today’s post comes from Anna Sheppard, an Assistant Ecologist for Ontario Parks’ Northeast Zone.

I am admittedly not a morning person by nature — if I had it my way, I would sleep in every single day!

But I am passionate about birds, and for just a couple of months each year I’m willing to roll out of bed at 5:00 a.m. in support of the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas.

This past June, I joined a small crew of volunteers who were up at dawn for several days at both Grundy Lake Provincial Park and Mikisew Provincial Park to count birds for the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas.

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Ecological integrity at Neys Provincial Park

Today’s post comes from Jake Guggenheimer, past Discovery staff at Neys Provincial Park.

Imagine you’re in a forest.

What do you hear?

The rustling of the trees in the wind. The birds chirping to each other. The flowing of a creek.

What do you see?

A flower starting to bloom. A chipmunk scurrying along the ground. The sun shining through scattered clouds.

If you imagined yourself in Neys Provincial Park, the animals and plants you pictured are some of the most interesting flora and fauna around.

That’s because Neys is a protected natural area with a high level of ecological integrity.

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How to leave the park greener than you found it

Today’s post comes from Sheila Wiebe, a marketing and development specialist at Bronte Creek Provincial Park.

I promise to be greener.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m already pretty green. However, after leading an Earth Day park clean up, I decided I need to take it one step further and double up my efforts to further reduce my impact on the environment.

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Why social trails are damaging to provincial parks

Park-lovers are natural explorers, and we love our visitors’ passion for adventure.

Sometimes, we see our visitors create their own shortcuts by cutting through sensitive habitat. This is otherwise known as creating a social trail.

Social trails can have a wide range of damaging effects on protected areas, and we’d like to ask our visitors to always stay on designated trails.

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An Ontario Parks glossary

Are you new to parks, or maybe a park veteran looking to brush up on your knowledge?

We’ve assembled a handy guide to all the terms you’ll need to know and understand before you visit the park…

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Welcome home, Mottled Duskywings!

A missing piece of Pinery Provincial Park’s biodiversity has recently been replaced!

After a long absence, the Mottled Duskywing butterfly (Erynnis martialis) is once again taking wing in one of Ontario’s busiest parks.

This is the story of how a small butterfly was lost and brought home again.

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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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