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.

Continue reading Forever protected

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.

Continue reading Keeping up with the Canada Jay

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?

Continue reading Low-impact backcountry camping

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.

Continue reading A naturalist’s letter to Santa Claus

9 tips for eco friendly Halloween decor

Many of our in-park Halloween events feature campsite decorating contests.

But certain decorations can be harmful to the environment.

Here’s how you can create a super spooky campsite AND protect Ontario’s ecological integrity at the same time.

Continue reading 9 tips for eco friendly Halloween decor

Considerate Camper: Keep our trees healthy

Welcome to our “Considerate Camper” series. These are posts with tips and reminders on how to keep our provincial parks clean and healthy. Already know how it’s done? Please share these posts along for less-experienced campers 🙂

We’re taking a leaf out of the Lorax’s book and speaking for the trees today!

When maintaining our campgrounds, we often notice marks in our trees. Many are from axes and nails, and plenty of trees have names, shapes and initials carved across their bark.

Did you know these holes and gouges risk the tree’s health and may result in its destruction?

Continue reading Considerate Camper: Keep our trees healthy

OP125 stewardship projects: Bye bye, Buckthorn!

Today’s post comes from Natural Heritage Education Leader David Bree at Presqu’ile Provincial Park.

“EI” is a term we use a lot at Ontario Parks.

EI stands for ecological integrity, or the biodiversity and naturalness of an ecosystem. Protecting and restoring the ecological integrity of our provincial parks is vitally important to us.

2018 marks Ontario Parks’ 125th anniversary. To help celebrate this milestone, the public will be invited to give back, learn, and participate in a series of stewardship programs to help protect biodiversity in provincial parks. Stewardship programs include BioBlitz events, invasive species removal, and native species planting to name a few.

At Presqu’ile Provincial Park, our money went towards removal of a nasty invasive species: Buckthorn.

Continue reading OP125 stewardship projects: Bye bye, Buckthorn!

Ecosystems and music

Not sure exactly what “ecological integrity” means? Today’s post from Park Biologist Shannon McGaffey explains how ecological integrity is like music.

Synergy: the creation of a whole that is bigger than the sum of the individual parts

If you are listening to a symphony, you are not listening to two violins, one piano, three flutes, etc. You are listening to music, an art that breaches the realms of spirituality. Music naturally generates measurable energy, but also produces energy beyond that, an energy that humans can feel, but just can’t quite grasp and understand.

Continue reading Ecosystems and music

What’s in a weir?

Neys Provincial Park recently removed an obsolete weir as part of its work to restore and maintain ecological integrity. Superintendent Allison Dennis has the story…

The term “weir” piqued my curiosity following my first review of the Neys Provincial Park Management Plan.

Turns out that a weir is a barrier constructed across the width of a river or stream which raises the water level on the upstream side to a specified height. Unlike a dam, which redirects excess water using spillways, a weir allows excess water to flow over the top of the structure and continue downstream.

So what does this have to do with a provincial park?

Continue reading What’s in a weir?

The year of high water at Presqu’ile

Today’s post comes from Natural Heritage Education Leader David Bree at Presqu’ile Provincial Park

It was a wet year for provincial parks in 2017.

If you visited Lake Ontario this spring, you know water levels reached record highs. By early May, the lake was 10 cm higher than the highest it had ever been since records started in 1918. This is also a full metre higher than average.

The damage this caused has been well-documented. At Presqu’ile Provincial Park, we had flooded facilities, lost land to erosion, and had to close for four weeks in June to prevent more damage to our soggy landscape.

The flood was certainly an inconvenience to us, but what effect did it have on the nature and wildlife of the park?

Continue reading The year of high water at Presqu’ile