Costal Productions

Ontario

Number of projects: 12

Land value: Land value is the appraised value of land that NCC has conserved directly and with partners. $13,830,431

Acres conserved: 9,816

Stewardship volunteers: 581

Queen snake monitoring on the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula

Joe Crowley

Hiding underneath rocks and among the undergrowth that lines the lakes on the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula, a queen snake ignores the passing Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) scientists who are on the lookout for these slender, non-aggressive, non-venomous and endangered reptiles.

In the last four years, NCC has led a series of queen snake surveys on the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula. With the help of 38 volunteers from Parks Canada, the Saugeen Ojibway Nation Environment Office, Ontario Nature, Natural Resources Solutions Inc., the Huron Stewardship Council, environmental consultants and community volunteers, the team spotted 30 individual snakes after 651 collective hours of looking for this endangered species.

The goals of the project were to determine the current queen snake distribution, habitat use and population genetics in the area. The field work conducted greatly increased what was known about the population, including specifics on the queen snake’s diet, which consists almost exclusively of freshly moulted, native crayfish.

During the surveys, staff and volunteers also found a four-toed salamander; a new discovery for this area. They also found more than 250 additional snakes from eight different species, including:

  • Dekay’s brownsnake
  • eastern massasauga rattlesnake
  • eastern ribbonsnake
  • eastern gartersnake
  • northern watersnake
  • red-bellied snake
  • ring-necked snake
  • smooth green snake

Learn more about the snakes of Ontario.

Cross-border partnership leads to Great Lakes conservation success

Costal Productions

Approaching the shores of Big Trout Bay, one of NCC’s newly protected areas in Ontario, you are immediately transported into a place of rugged natural beauty. In the distance, you can hear the waves crashing onto Lake Superior’s shore and, as you draw closer, the calls of songbirds that live in the coastal boreal forest.  

This 2,517-acre (1,018-hectare) property is located just minutes from the southern Canada-U.S. border and 45 minutes from Thunder Bay. Its densely forested land and towering cliffs are crucial to many native species, including bald eagle and peregrine falcon, both of which are assessed as special concern by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

Nearly half of Canada’s bird species rely on boreal habitat, such as that found at Big Trout Bay, to complete their life cycle. Many of these species migrate throughout the Americas.

The property includes 21 kilometres of undeveloped shoreline, with towering cliffs, stretches of open bedrock and rugged cobble beach. These coastal areas are especially important for biodiversity: the harsh, lakeshore environment supports uncommon, northern species, such as bird’s-eye primrose. Songbirds benefit from the large number of insects that emerge from the water. The intact forest and wetland mosaic provide habitat for moose and protect the coastal waters for lake trout. 

In August 2016, this beautiful natural area was conserved for the benefit of future generations thanks to more than 10 years of cross-border efforts and through the support of many individuals and organizations, including funding from the Government of Canada, through the Natural Areas Conservation Program and thanks to the generous partnership of the J.A. Woollam Foundation, the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, the Bobolink Foundation, the Rogers Foundation, The Nature Conservancy’s Wisconsin and Minnesota programs, The Conservation Fund, Green Leaf Advisors and many individual donors in both the United States and Canada.

Saying goodbye to garlic mustard

NCC

Hiking through Happy Valley Forest, you may come across patches of bloodroot, mayapple and the forest’s iconic blankets of trillium. However, there is an outlaw among this patchwork: in small pockets, invasive garlic mustard appears to be a harmless understorey plant. But after many years, it spreads and eventually drives out native species.

The spread of non-native plants and animals across the globe is becoming a crisis. NCC is working hard in Ontario to combat the invaders that threaten native species and impact at-risk ecosystems. One of the most important stewardship tasks that NCC and our Conservation Volunteers (CVs) undertake is the removal of non-native, invasive species.

Located only 45 minutes north of Toronto, the Happy Valley Forest is one of the largest remaining intact upland deciduous forests on Canada's Oak Ridges Moraine. The 1,560-acre (631-hectare) forest supports a variety of breeding bird species, and is an old-growth forest in the making.

In areas where it has run rampant, garlic mustard dominates ecosystems by interfering with soil chemistry as well as the fungal interactions that help more than 90 per cent of native plant species thrive. Brought to North America by early European colonists as an herb, this invasive plant is now spreading across the continent at a rate of 6,400 square kilometres per year.

But Happy Valley Forest’s garlic mustard was no match for determined NCC volunteers. This spring, NCC held five CV events that focused on removing the aromatic invader. More than 30 volunteers along with NCC staff removed close to 35 bags of garlic mustard from Happy Valley in the spring of 2017.

A restored field near Ontario’s Backus Woods was recently found to have the province’s largest concentration of wild lupine (host plant to several rare, endangered and extirpated butterflies and moths) on a single site.