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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The Ontario Parks Discovery Program: 75 years in the making

In 1944, Algonquin Provincial Park decided to try something new.

They hired Professor J.R. Dymond, Director of the Royal Ontario Museum of Zoology, to deliver guided hikes for park visitors. Those first interpretive programs were a success and what would become the Ontario Parks Discovery Program was born.

Seventy-five years later, roughly 300 Discovery staff in over 70 parks continue to engage visitors with stories of Ontario’s natural and cultural heritage and encourage them to explore further.

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A brief history of nature education in provincial parks

“Through these interesting and enjoyable experiences which are both educational and recreational, interpretation contributes to the inspirational value of the outdoors and fosters an understanding, an appreciation, and an intelligent use of our parklands.”

– Alan Helmsley, Department of Lands & Forests, 1960

Ontario Parks’ nature programs are designed to help people discover and connect with the natural and cultural history of the park during their visit.

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Ontario Parks’ interpretive programming: 70 years and still going strong

We’ve been offering interpretive programs to visitors for nearly a three quarters of a century. In 2015 alone, more than 393,000 visitors from across the province tuned into our programming.

Our calendar is brimming with hundreds of different programs this summer — spanning stargazing to nature hikes to historical reenactments.

Which one will you choose?

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The call of the Park

Planning to visit a provincial park this summer? Looking for something different the whole family can do together? Why not take a walk on the ‘wild’ side? Discover how to track animals. Catch insects. Learn birdcalls – or communicate with wolves in the wild at night. Create nature-inspired art in the medium of your choice. Or find out how different species mate by attending a ‘Glee’-style musical!

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