A mouse, a beast, and a ghost: who’s using Pinery’s ecopassage?

In today’s post comes from Alistair MacKenzie, Discovery Supervisor at Pinery Provincial Park, shares one of his parks exciting new conservation technologies: ecopassages.

I have a lot to thank my parents for, not the least of which is for introducing me to nature as a young child.

When my family immigrated to Canada, we began exploring Ontario and seeking out opportunities to witness natural phenomena and wild species. Soon, this behaviour led us to Algonquin Provincial Park, and we started making frequent pilgrimages there in all seasons.

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A trip down the Pakeshkag River at Grundy Lake Provincial Park

Today’s post comes from Sonje Bols, a former 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.

Continue reading A trip down the Pakeshkag River at Grundy Lake Provincial Park

Join our community of science

We’re making the switch from citizen science to community science.

Here at Ontario Parks, we love it when our visitors can get involved in science.

From iNaturalist to Bumblebee Watch, eBird, bioblitzes, and more, volunteers help us to collect important information about our parks.

These efforts help us to understand how plant and animal populations are changing over time, and help us to discover previously unknown populations of rare species. They also allow us to react quickly if someone discovers an invasive species in a new area.

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“What the heck is that?!”: when to #AskanOPNaturalist

Today’s post comes from David LeGros, a park naturalist with the Ontario Parks Discovery Program.

“I’ve never seen one of those” is among my favorite sentences.

There’s a scary thing that happens the longer you look into nature. The more you find, the more you find out that you don’t know that much. It can be an intimidating feeling, but also, an exciting feeling.

Your mind is about to be blown.

Repeatedly.

Continue reading “What the heck is that?!”: when to #AskanOPNaturalist

Armchair observations and sticking close to home

Today’s post comes from David LeGros, park naturalist at Algonquin Provincial Park.

Even though our parks are currently closed, I’ve noticed people are continuing to submit observations to iNaturalist.

At first, I was a little worried that people were entering parks during the closure, but on closer inspection, I was pleasantly surprised.

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By paddle and boot: community science in the backcountry       

This post was written by David LeGros, park naturalist at Algonquin Provincial Park.

Are you an explorer? Heading out into parks on a journey of discovery, anxious to see what is on the next lake, around the bend on the portage, or even what might turn up at your campsite?

Me too. I love exploring the backcountry on canoe trips, and I love getting to know Algonquin a little bit better every time. I am also an avid naturalist, so I like to identify the things I see when I’m out there (and no, I don’t know all the species).

Lately, I have become obsessed with iNaturalist (ask my wife). So when we were planning our last canoe trip, I gently guided the route to be in a place where few nature nerds have made records before. For the glory, but also for real/good reasons too.

Continue reading By paddle and boot: community science in the backcountry       

Behind the scenes: life as a Discovery Leader at Emily Provincial Park

In our “Behind the Scenes” series, Discovery Program staff across the province share a “backstage” glimpse of their favourite programs and projects. Today’s post comes from Alexander Renaud, the Discovery Program Lead at Emily Provincial Park.

Seven years ago I applied to every job under the sun (as all university students do) and I finally got the call.

The only hiccup…I had never been to a provincial park before.

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Forever protected: why Holland Landing Prairie belongs

Our “Forever protected” series shares why each and every park belongs in Ontario Parks. In today’s post, Zone Ecologist Corina Brdar tells us Holland Landing Prairie’s story. 

“The mosquitoes have been exceedingly troublesome these two days past. It is almost impossible to sleep during the night, for they are quite as plentiful and every way as michievous [SIC] as during the day.”

Sounds familiar, huh?

This isn’t a comment from a frustrated camper – it’s a 200 year old journal entry by a Scottish explorer visiting what is now known as Holland Landing Prairie Nature Reserve.

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How will I know ecological integrity when I see it?

Preserving ecological integrity is a priority for all of us here at Ontario Parks. But just what does ecological integrity look like? Algonquin Provincial Park Naturalist David LeGros explains…

When I start many of my evening programs at Algonquin, I often ask the audience if they like nature.

Usually I get a lot of hands up in the air, but there are always a few that don’t put their hands up. I tell those people, “You might be in the wrong place, because Algonquin is crawling with nature.” I know these folks may have not been paying attention to what I was saying or chose not to participate in my survey, but it always gets a laugh from the crowd.

However, this did get me thinking about why we go to parks over staying home or visiting a big city…

Continue reading How will I know ecological integrity when I see it?