NCC's 2017 fall magazine

Create successful ePaper yourself

Turn your PDF publications into a flip-book with our unique Google optimized e-Paper software.

FALL <strong>2017</strong><br />

Stronger<br />

together<br />

Celebrating the 10-year anniversary of<br />

the Natural Areas Conservation Program

Nature Conservancy of Canada<br />

FALL <strong>2017</strong><br />

Nature Conservancy of Canada<br />

245 Eglinton Ave. East, Suite 410<br />

Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 3J1<br />

<strong>magazine</strong>@natureconservancy.ca<br />

Phone: 416.932.3202<br />

Toll-free: 800.465.0029<br />

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC)<br />

is the nation’s leading land conservation<br />

organization, working to protect our most<br />

important natural areas and the species<br />

they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners<br />

have helped to protect 2.8 million acres (more<br />

than 1.1 million hectares), coast to coast.<br />

The Nature Conservancy of Canada Magazine is<br />

distributed to donors and supporters of NCC.<br />

TM<br />

Trademarks owned by the Nature Conservancy<br />

of Canada.<br />

FSC is not responsible for any calculations<br />

on saving resources by choosing this paper.<br />

Printed on Rolland Opaque paper, which<br />

contains 30% post-consumer fibre, is<br />

EcoLogo, Processed Chlorine Free certified<br />

and manufactured in Canada by Rolland<br />

using biogas energy. Printed in Canada with<br />

vegetable-based inks by Warrens Waterless<br />

Printing. This publication saved 29 trees and<br />

104,292 litres of water*.<br />

Design by Evermaven.<br />

COVER<br />

Big Trout Bay shoreline, Ontario<br />

Photo by Costal Productions.<br />


Big Trout Bay Nature Reserve, Ontario<br />

Photo by Daniel Ehrenworth.<br />


*<br />

2 FALL <strong>2017</strong> natureconservancy.ca

Contents<br />

Nature Conservancy of Canada FALL <strong>2017</strong><br />

Better together<br />



Anew Ipsos MORI poll reports that<br />

Canada currently is the nation<br />

with the most positive influence on<br />

world affairs. As a Canadian, I hate to brag,<br />

but it doesn’t surprise me. We have, in general,<br />

the attitude that we do better — are better<br />

— when we work together. You only need to<br />

think of the response to the devastated<br />

community of Fort McMurray after the fire in<br />

2016; people of all walks of life pulling<br />

together to make life better.<br />

I see this attitude play out every day at the<br />

Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC). In this<br />

issue of the Nature Conservancy of Canada<br />

Magazine, you’ll read about some of the<br />

people and organizations who have partnered<br />

with NCC through the Natural Areas Conservation<br />

Program (NACP) to help protect<br />

important natural areas. Together, we have<br />

already protected more than 1 million acres<br />

(430,000 hectares) of priority conservation<br />

lands and waters. And there is more to do.<br />

The NACP is built upon strong conservation<br />

science, designed to leverage every dollar<br />

raised and engage partners from the private<br />

and public sectors. The NACP encourages<br />

community conservation, and supports local<br />

donors to care for the places they cherish.<br />

Through the commitment of the Government<br />

of Canada and the dedication of<br />

Canadians from across the country, we are,<br />

yet again, setting an example for the global<br />

community. The message is simple: everyone<br />

has a role to play in conserving the spaces<br />

they love and protecting the places that<br />

sustain us. What part do you want to play?<br />

Yours in conservation,<br />

Lisa McLaughlin<br />

Lisa McLaughlin<br />

NCC vice-president of conservation planning<br />

and policy<br />

8<br />

12<br />

14 Canada’s globally<br />

rare species<br />

Stopping the sixth extinction<br />

starts at home<br />

16 Fairy Hill<br />

This property near Regina, SK, is<br />

sure to delight visitors<br />

17 Nature’s melody<br />

Singer-songwriter Sarah Harmer’s<br />

essentials for exploring nature<br />

14<br />


The power of partnership<br />

Celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the Natural Areas Conservation Program<br />

12 Piping plover<br />

Weighing less than 10 loonies, this small<br />

shorebird is nationally endangered<br />

14 Project updates<br />

Four land trust projects made possible under<br />

the Natural Areas Conservation Program<br />

16 Mike Hendren:<br />

Power of community<br />

How local land trusts can accomplish<br />

significant conservation gains<br />

natureconservancy.ca<br />

FALL <strong>2017</strong> 3

COAST TO<br />

COAST<br />

Putting<br />

our house<br />

in order<br />

Addressing the global species<br />

extinction crisis starts with saving<br />

rare species at home<br />

Canadians often think about the species extinction<br />

crisis as something that is happening elsewhere. The<br />

plight of elephants, tigers and gorillas is well known<br />

to many of us. We absolutely do need to save these<br />

species, but stopping the global extinction crisis needs<br />

to start at home.<br />

Canada is home to approximately 80,000 species.<br />

We know that we were once home to at least 16 species<br />

and sub-species that are now extinct: gone forever<br />

from Canada and gone forever from the planet. Some<br />

species you may have heard of, such as the passenger<br />

pigeon and great auk. The extinction story of others,<br />

such as the Rocky Mountain grasshopper, Macoun’s<br />

shining moss and deepwater cisco, are equally tragic,<br />

but not as well known.<br />

The global status of species is assessed by the<br />

International Union for Conservation of Nature<br />

(IUCN) and maintained on the Red List of Threatened<br />

Species. Currently, Canada has 127 species on the<br />

IUCN Red List. In addition, another 70 species have<br />

been assessed as near threatened, meaning they<br />

are likely to become endangered in the future.<br />

One of the most important results of the Nature<br />

Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC’s) conservation work<br />

is that we are protecting and recovering more than<br />

50 Canadian species that are on the IUCN Red List,<br />

or that have been assessed as near threatened. Many<br />

of these species are on lands that have been secured<br />

over the last 10 years through the Government of<br />

Canada’s Natural Areas Conservation Program.<br />

Here are a few species on the IUCN Red List of<br />

Threatened Species that NCC is helping to protect.1<br />


The International Union for Conservation<br />

of Nature defines the levels of threat on<br />

the Red List as:<br />

• Extinct (EX): No known individuals<br />

remaining.<br />

• Extinct in the wild (EW): Known only<br />

to survive in captivity, or as a naturalized<br />

population outside its historic range.<br />

• Critically endangered (CR): Extremely<br />

high risk of extinction in the wild.<br />

• Endangered (EN): High risk of<br />

extinction in the wild.<br />

• Vulnerable (VU): High risk of<br />

endangerment in the wild.<br />

• Near threatened (NT): Likely to<br />

become endangered in the near future.<br />

• Least concern (LC): Lowest risk.<br />

Does not qualify for a more at-risk<br />

category. Widespread and abundant<br />

taxa (groups of organisms) are included<br />

in this category.<br />

• Data deficient (DD): Not enough<br />

data to make an assessment of its risk<br />

of extinction.<br />

• Not evaluated (NE): Has not yet been<br />

evaluated against the criteria.<br />

When discussing the IUCN Red List, the<br />

official term “threatened” is a grouping<br />

of three categories: critically endangered,<br />

endangered and vulnerable.<br />


Read a blog from NCC’s senior<br />

conservation biologist, Dan Kraus,<br />

with a map of the locations where<br />

NCC has helped protect Red List<br />

species: natureconservancy.ca/<br />

sixthextinction<br />

Dakota skipper,<br />

western prairie<br />

white-fringed orchid<br />

In Manitoba’s tall grass prairie<br />

region, NCC is protecting and<br />

restoring habitat for the western<br />

prairie white-fringed orchid<br />

(endangered) and Dakota skipper<br />

butterfly (vulnerable). In addition<br />

to securing key habitats, NCC<br />

uses prescribed fire as well as<br />

a range of agricultural activities,<br />

such as managed grazing, as<br />

tools to control the intrusion of<br />

woody invasive species and<br />

maintain tall grass habitats.<br />


4 FALL <strong>2017</strong> natureconservancy.ca

Ram’s-head<br />

lady’s-slipper<br />

NCC has protected<br />

more than 15 properties<br />

that provide habitat<br />

for the ram’s-head<br />

lady’s-slipper (near<br />

threatened) in places<br />

such as the Ottawa Valley<br />

and Bruce Peninsula.<br />

This delicate orchid often<br />

grows in rare habitats,<br />

such as alvars and forested<br />

dunes. NCC staff regularly<br />

monitor the health<br />

of ram’s-head lady’sslipper<br />

populations on<br />

many properties.<br />

Boreal felt lichen<br />

The boreal felt lichen (critically endangered)<br />

needs old-growth coastal forest<br />

to survive. This species once occurred in<br />

Norway and Sweden, but is now extinct<br />

there and can only be found in Atlantic<br />

Canada. NCC has protected habitat for this<br />

rare lichen in Newfoundland and Labrador<br />

and Nova Scotia.<br />

Blanding’s turtle<br />

NCC has protected thousands of acres<br />

of Blanding’s turtle (endangered)<br />

habitat in places such as the Frontenac<br />

Arch in Ontario and the Quebec side of<br />

the Ottawa Valley. Maintaining intact<br />

habitats for the Blanding’s turtle is<br />

critical for its survival because many<br />

females are killed each year on roads<br />

when they migrate to nesting areas.<br />

Semipalmated sandpiper,<br />

piping plover<br />

NCC is protecting key coastal habitats<br />

for two declining shorebirds: piping<br />

plover and semipalmated sandpiper<br />

(both near threatened). NCC protects<br />

important piping plover nesting<br />

habitat in places such as Sandy Point,<br />

Newfoundland and Labrador, and along<br />

Nova Scotia’s South Shore. This bird also<br />

nests in the prairies, including on NCC<br />

properties in Saskatchewan’s Missouri<br />

Coteau. At NCC’s Johnson’s Mills<br />

property in New Brunswick, more than<br />

30 per cent of the world’s population<br />

of semipalmated sandpipers stop to<br />

feed during their migration from mid-July<br />

to mid-September.<br />

Red-headed woodpecker<br />

On Ontario’s Rice Lake Plains, northeast of Toronto,<br />

NCC is protecting rare black oak savannah habitat<br />

that supports the red-headed woodpecker (near<br />

threatened). This colourful bird ranges from<br />

Saskatchewan to Quebec in Canada, and has been<br />

declining by close to three per cent each year since<br />

1966. NCC is also restoring the oak savannahs where<br />

the red-headed woodpecker can be found, through<br />

prescribed burns and invasive species removal.<br />

natureconservancy.ca<br />

FALL <strong>2017</strong> 5

BOOTS ON<br />


Wild connections<br />

Just a short drive from Regina, the Fairy Hill South Complex is<br />

a jewel of a property that connects conservation and community<br />

Deer at Fairy Hill<br />

The Fairy Hill South Complex in<br />

Saskatchewan is not just about<br />

the future of wild spaces and<br />

wildlife species, it's also about partnerships<br />

and people.<br />

The Nature Conservancy of Canada’s<br />

(NCC’s) conservation work here means that<br />

this area will be managed in its natural state.<br />

Located just a 30-minute drive north of<br />

Regina on Highway 6, this scenic expanse<br />

of 1,642 acres (665 hectares) of native grasslands,<br />

woodlands, river and floodplains serves<br />

as habitat for aquatic and terrestrial species<br />

and a haven for visitors wishing to enjoy the<br />

area. Fairy Hill is protected for the long term<br />

through NCC’s purchase of the property from<br />

its conservation-minded landowner, Dorothy<br />

Schuurmans, and a generous donation from<br />

Lloyd and Janet Sauer.<br />

Visitors to the property may spot at risk<br />

species, such as loggerhead shrike, northern<br />

leopard frog (prairie population) and Sprague’s<br />

pipit. This area is also well used as a staging site<br />

for ducks and geese and serves as a stopover<br />

for many and varied shorebird species.<br />


In addition to its importance as a natural<br />

area, Fairy Hill is a place of connection with<br />

the local community. This summer, local<br />

residents and Conservation Volunteers from<br />

elsewhere in Saskatchewan joined NCC staff<br />

to help remove invasive common burdock and<br />

pull down old fencing.<br />

Given its proximity to Regina, the property<br />

is often used as a place to take school groups<br />

on field trips. School children have come out<br />

here to learn about conservation. They have<br />

also helped NCC staff remove invasive<br />

common burdock from the property.<br />

And thanks to a grazing lease, NCC’s<br />

property is available to a local rancher to<br />

graze his cattle. In return, the cattle help<br />

maintain the health of grasslands on the<br />

property through their grazing.<br />


6 FALL <strong>2017</strong> natureconservancy.ca



1<br />

2<br />

Northern leopard frog<br />


As you walk through the property, you’ll<br />

weave around native grassland, trees and<br />

wetlands. Follow the loop trail and you will<br />

come to a hill that overlooks the valley. It’s<br />

the perfect spot to have a picnic or just to<br />

pause for a moment.<br />

4<br />

3<br />



Fairy Hill is located in the Qu’Appelle<br />

Valley on Treaty 4 land. It got its name when<br />

Europeans settled the area, as some thought<br />

it reminded them of hills back in Ireland also<br />

called Fairy Hill.<br />


A number of partners have been involved in<br />

this conservation project. Various private<br />

and individual contributors have dedicated<br />

funds toward the purchase of Fairy Hill.<br />

In addition, Environment Canada (now<br />

Environment and Climate Change Canada),<br />

through the Natural Areas Conservation<br />

Program, and the Province of Saskatchewan,<br />

through the Fish and Wildlife Development<br />

Fund, have also substantially contributed to<br />

this purchase.<br />

TRAILS<br />

Length: 5 km round-trip<br />

Difficulty: moderate with hills<br />

Terrain: earthen, worn path with<br />

occasional markers<br />

Description: a loop trail passing through<br />

grasslands, forests and wetlands1<br />


Learn about this Nature Destination at<br />

natureconservancy.ca/fairyhill<br />

5<br />

Nature’s melody<br />

Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah Harmer shares<br />

a few of the essentials she always packs when she’s<br />

out exploring nature<br />

1. JOURNAL When you’re<br />

hanging out with the trees<br />

and appreciating all they<br />

do for us, it’s nice to<br />

know your journal isn’t<br />

made of old-growth<br />

forests...I look for<br />

paper that’s recycled or<br />

FSC (Forest Stewardship<br />

Council) certified.<br />


My Skipper 7x50 binoculars by Swift<br />

are heavy but strong, and they’ve been<br />

with me since I picked them up at a thrift<br />

shop years ago.<br />


Water is truly the<br />

most essential thing,<br />

especially on a hike.<br />

4. HAT This bright<br />

hat is key in the <strong>fall</strong>,<br />

when hunters may<br />

be out in the woods.<br />

Staying alive and<br />

unharmed is also<br />

clearly essential.<br />

5. PENS A few good pens are a must,<br />

perhaps to sketch a leaf or write down<br />

an idea that strikes.1<br />

natureconservancy.ca<br />

FALL <strong>2017</strong> 7

THE<br />

Power<br />

OF<br />

partnership<br />

This year marks the 10-year anniversary of the<br />

Natural Areas Conservation Program — a unique public-private partnership<br />

that has spurred private land conservation in Canada to new heights<br />


8 FALL <strong>2017</strong> natureconservancy.ca

The North Shore of Lake Superior,<br />

renowned for its rugged beauty,<br />

needs little introduction. But that’s<br />

not stopping Gary Davies.<br />

“I think you’re going to have a few ‘Wow!’<br />

moments when you’re on the property,” says the<br />

Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) program<br />

director for northwestern Ontario. “It’s got some<br />

pretty spectacular scenery and views.”<br />

The property in question is the Big Trout Bay<br />

Nature Reserve, a 2,500-acre (1,012-hectare)<br />

tract of forest, wetlands, tall cliffs and jagged<br />

peninsulas. It features 21 kilometres of frontage<br />

on the Lake Superior shore and is home to such<br />

iconic species as moose, black bear, Canada<br />

lynx, bald eagle and peregrine falcon, the latter<br />

a species of special concern in Canada.<br />

Purchased by NCC in August 2016, with a<br />

total project cost of $8.5 million — combining<br />

a $3-million contribution from the Government<br />

of Canada’s Natural Areas Conservation<br />

Program (NACP) with matching funds<br />

raised from foundations and private donors<br />

— Big Trout Bay stands as one of the last<br />

undeveloped parcels of Great Lakes coastal<br />

wilderness between Thunder Bay, Ontario,<br />

and Duluth, Minnesota. According to NCC<br />

vice-president of conservation planning and<br />

policy, Lisa McLaughlin, it’s also a hallmark<br />

of the kind of conservation successes made<br />

possible by the NACP — through which NCC<br />

has conserved more than 1 million acres<br />

(430,000 hectares) since the program’s<br />

inception 10 years ago.<br />


BY Brian Banks, freelance writer & journalist PHOTOGRAPHY Daniel Ehrenworth<br />

natureconservancy.ca<br />

FALL <strong>2017</strong> 9

Today, Davies is standing near the reserve’s<br />

western boundary, speaking to a group of<br />

wildlife scientists from the Royal Ontario<br />

Museum and the Ontario Ministry of Natural<br />

Resources and Forestry’s Natural Heritage<br />

Information Centre. Scenery aside, it’s the sort<br />

of group whose “Wow!” moments might also<br />

include seeing rare plants, birds or insects.<br />

They’re here to start a week-long intense<br />

science “bioblitz” on the property — one of 10<br />

national science surveys of species biodiversity<br />

held this year under the Canada BioBlitz 150<br />

program — and Davies is outlining features,<br />

access points and hazards to get them oriented.<br />

“There are some pretty steep cliffs,” he warns.<br />

“You’re bushwhacking and then all of a sudden<br />

you’re at the edge.”<br />

Ordinarily, when NCC acquires a new<br />

property, it conducts its own baseline inventory<br />

of plant and animal species. It combines<br />

that data with its existing site knowledge to<br />

create a long-term management plan. It’s no<br />

wonder then that Davies is thrilled to have the<br />

bioblitz team on hand. The pending treasure<br />

trove of data, he says, will be “a baseline<br />

inventory on steroids.”<br />

NCC program director for northwestern<br />

Ontario, Gary Davies, says the NACP was<br />

a significant enabler for the securement<br />

of Big Trout Bay.<br />

In terms of sheer volume of lands conserved, the<br />

more than 1 million acres saved to date under<br />

the NACP represents nearly one-third of the entire<br />

habitat NCC has helped protect since it was<br />

founded in 1962.<br />

Sharing the wealth<br />

Just as the bioblitz has the potential to<br />

kick-start NCC’s work on Big Trout Bay, it<br />

helps to think of the NACP in the same way.<br />

In the past decade, NCC has used the NACP,<br />

with the participation of Ducks Unlimited<br />

Canada and other land trusts, to spur private<br />

land conservation in Canada to a level that<br />

would have been hard to imagine prior to the<br />

creation of the program.<br />

In terms of sheer volume of lands conserved,<br />

the more than 1 million acres saved<br />

to date under the NACP represents nearly<br />

one-third of the entire habitat NCC has<br />

helped protect since it was founded in 1962.<br />

“We have hundreds of thousands of acres<br />

now protected that certainly would not<br />

have happened had this program not been<br />

in place,” says McLaughlin.<br />

The program is about more than raw totals,<br />

however. From day one, when the Government<br />

of Canada put up an initial $225 million<br />

in a fund to be administered by NCC, with<br />

$25 million tabbed for Ducks Unlimited and<br />

another $15 million set aside for other land<br />

trusts, rules required that no money could be<br />

drawn unless it was matched 1:1 with monies<br />

(or an equivalent value in donated property)<br />

raised from other sources — chiefly foundations,<br />

corporations and individual donors. In<br />

2013, when the government allocated another<br />

$100 million to the NACP — money slated to<br />

sustain the program through 2019 — it changed<br />

the ratio to 2:1, doubling the required match<br />

from other sources.<br />

Canada’s Minister of Environment and<br />

Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, believes<br />

the matched funding commitment is key to<br />

the NACP’s success. “It shows it’s not just<br />

government spending the money but working<br />

with great folks like farmers and ranchers,<br />

who are giving land and providing funding for<br />

the program.”<br />

The matching element means every<br />

acquisition done under the NACP is a partnership,<br />

says McLaughlin. “It reinforces the notion<br />

that land conservation or biodiversity conservation<br />

is everyone’s responsibility.” It also<br />

makes it easier to raise funds when you can tell<br />

a donor that every dollar they contribute will<br />

be matched, essentially tripling their impact.<br />

“It was a very significant enabler for us [with<br />

Big Trout Bay],” says Davies.<br />

10 FALL <strong>2017</strong> natureconservancy.ca

In Big Trout Bay’s case, this match even<br />

helped to motivate a number of American<br />

donors and partners, including The Conservation<br />

Fund, a national conservation lender, and<br />

the Minnesota and Wisconsin state chapters of<br />

The Nature Conservancy (U.S.). “They all spoke<br />

to Lake Superior as an international conservation<br />

asset,” Davies says. “It was great to see that<br />

kind of generous cross-border co-operation.”<br />

On many projects, NCC has to seek out<br />

its funding partners. In other instances, they<br />

reach out from the grassroots up.<br />

A clear example in the latter category is<br />

NCC’s Musquash Estuary project, the organization’s<br />

largest reserve in Atlantic Canada, located<br />

less than 20 kilometres southwest of Saint John,<br />

New Brunswick. A sublime, verdant, winding<br />

expanse of salt marshes, peat bogs, tidal flats<br />

and surrounding Acadian forest and freshwater<br />

wetlands, Musquash is one of the last fully<br />

functioning estuaries in the Bay of Fundy, a<br />

haven for aquatic species, migratory water birds<br />

and other wildlife. In 2007, the Musquash Estuary<br />

was announced as Canada’s sixth Marine<br />

Protected Area (MPA) under the Oceans Act.<br />

NCC’s involvement here dates from around<br />

2000, when local residents began campaigning<br />

for the MPA designation in order to protect the<br />

estuary from proposed industrial development.<br />

As the MPA designation only applies to marine<br />

areas, they sought NCC’s assistance in securing<br />

the land around the estuary. By the time the<br />

MPA was designated, NCC had acquired close<br />

to 3,000 acres (1,200 hectares) of adjacent<br />

property, much of it transferred from the<br />

provincial government. That milestone also<br />

coincided with the introduction of the NACP.<br />

In the decade since the program’s introduction,<br />

NCC has relied heavily on the program to secure<br />

another 2,000 acres (800 hectares) on the<br />

estuary. “Much of what’s happened since 2007<br />

has been land donated by local families,” says<br />

Paula Noel, NCC’s New Brunswick program<br />

director. “They’ve given their land, and on<br />

the basis of its matching value, the NACP has<br />

covered the other costs of us being able to accept<br />

that land — such as biological inventories and<br />

gathering information on species and habitat.”<br />

Musquash has also taken on added significance<br />

lately, as the federal government has<br />

stepped up its efforts to deliver on Canada’s<br />

commitments as a party to the Convention on<br />

Biological Diversity (CBD). Under the CBD,<br />

signatories have committed to conserving at<br />

least 17 per cent of terrestrial areas and inland<br />

water, and 10 per cent of coastal and marine<br />

areas, through networks of protected areas<br />

and other effective area-based conservation<br />

measures by 2020. “I think they’re looking at<br />

Musquash as an example of how MPAs should be<br />

done,” says Noel. “Because of all the community<br />

input that was behind that designation.”<br />

The government’s efforts to reach the CBD<br />

targets <strong>fall</strong> under a program called The Pathway<br />

to Canada Target 1 (the language is adapted from<br />

the CBD’s Aichi Biodiversity Targets process).<br />

...continued on page 18<br />

A discussion with<br />

Catherine McKenna,<br />

Minister of<br />

Environment and<br />

Climate Change<br />

BB: This year, NCC is celebrating<br />

the 10-year anniversary of the<br />

NACP. What is your sense of the<br />

NACP’s key accomplishments?<br />

CM: I believe that it’s important<br />

to have public-private sector<br />

partnerships and that’s exactly<br />

what [the NACP] is. It takes real<br />

action to protect lands. And<br />

between 2007 and 2016, [the<br />

program helped conserve] 430,000<br />

hectares of not just any lands, but<br />

ecologically sensitive lands. [We<br />

predict that] by 2019 it’s going to<br />

be well over 500,000 hectares.<br />

It’s really about protecting lands<br />

that people care about. You’re<br />

connecting people to pieces of<br />

land, you’re engaging people<br />

and getting them excited and<br />

motivated to do this and be part<br />

of a bigger picture. It’s not just<br />

environmentalists. You have<br />

ranchers and farmers all coming<br />

together with the federal<br />

government and with the<br />

provinces to protect really<br />

important pieces of land.<br />

Canadians really understand<br />

that it’s critically important that<br />

we protect our natural beauty<br />

and that’s something that’s<br />

broadly shared by Canadians<br />

across the country, of different<br />

political persuasions.<br />

Read the expanded Q&A<br />

with the minister at:<br />

natureconservancy.ca/<br />

catherinemckenna<br />

The week-long bioblitz at Big Trout Bay was an opportunity to gather important<br />

data that will be used to inform a long-term management plan for the property.<br />

Read about the bioblitz<br />

and its findings:<br />

natureconservancy.ca/<br />

btbbioblitz<br />

natureconservancy.ca<br />

FALL <strong>2017</strong> 11



Coastal<br />

camouflage<br />

Blending in with the beaches on which they nest and rear their young, the piping plover’s<br />

sensitivity to habitat loss and shoreline disturbances makes it a nationally endangered species<br />


12 FALL <strong>2017</strong><br />


What’s black, white and brown, and endangered all<br />

over? If you guessed a small shorebird native to<br />

North America called a piping plover, you’re right.<br />

Piping plovers are migratory shorebirds weighing approximately<br />

43–63 grams (less than 10 loonies). They can be distinguished by<br />

their short, black-tipped orange beak and orange legs.<br />


Due to disturbances on the shores where they nest, piping plover populations have<br />

been decreasing in Canada (where the species is considered endangered).<br />

Piping plovers nest on beaches during the spring and summer, which is also peak<br />

season for beachgoers. If disturbed by humans or dogs, a piping plover will often<br />

abandon its nest.<br />

Piping plovers rely on camouflage to keep their eggs and chicks safe, nesting on<br />

sandy beaches mixed with gravel or sticks to help conceal themselves. But nesting<br />

in open areas is risky, as they are vulnerable to predators, such as feral cats, foxes<br />

and gulls. Storm surges and high tides can also destroy nests and chicks.<br />


While piping plovers may be thought of as coastal shorebirds, 20 per cent of the<br />

world’s population nest in Canada’s prairies, around the edges of lakes.<br />

Canada’s prairies support more than 1,000 piping plovers, mostly in Saskatchewan.<br />

In addition to conserving plover habitat, the Nature Conservancy of Canada<br />

(NCC) participates in the International Piping Plover Census (which happens every<br />

five years) by providing data collected by NCC staff and Conservation Volunteers.<br />

In Saskatchewan, NCC has installed fences around nesting sites, adjusted the<br />

density of grazing livestock and delayed grazing until after nesting season. Staff<br />

from NCC’s Saskatchewan Region have been surveying piping plovers at the Shoe<br />

Lake West property since the International Census began in 1991. This past June,<br />

staff observed up to 12 adults, including three breeding pairs, plus a single chick.<br />


Although rare in Ontario, piping plovers are known to breed at Lake of the<br />

Woods in the western portion of the province, and along the shores of the Great<br />

Lakes, where they are making a remarkable comeback. In the 1980s, the Great<br />

Lakes population was almost extirpated and piping plovers were considered<br />

endangered in Ontario.<br />

Thanks to habitat protection measures and beach stewardship, piping plovers<br />

are recovering and have now bred in Ontario at several locations along Lake Ontario<br />

and Lake Huron. NCC has protected several key coastal areas along the Great Lakes<br />

that could provide nesting habitat for piping plovers as they continue to recover.<br />


In New Brunswick, NCC has conserved nesting habitat for piping plovers at<br />

Miscou Island on the Acadian Peninsula and Tabusintac, in the northern part of<br />

the province.<br />

In Nova Scotia, there are fewer than 40 breeding pairs; a decline of more than<br />

25 per cent since 2001. To help combat this decline, NCC has conserved four properties<br />

with, or adjacent to, piping plover nesting beaches.<br />

At Port Joli, on Nova Scotia’s South Shore, NCC has conserved sensitive and<br />

unique shoreline. Thanks to signs and barriers installed by NCC, beachgoers know<br />

to keep away from active nests.<br />



Charadrius melodus<br />


This small shorebird measures 17-18 centimetres<br />

in length and can weight up to 63 grams.<br />

RANGE<br />

The Atlantic subspecies (Charadrius melodus<br />

melodus) nests along the Atlantic coast, from<br />

Newfoundland to South Carolina. In Canada,<br />

the species breeds along the coasts of the<br />

four Atlantic provinces and on Quebec’s<br />

Magdalen Islands. The interior subspecies<br />

(Charadrius melodus circumcinctus) nests<br />

on the Great Lakes, Lake of the Woods and<br />

in the southern part of the prairies.<br />


Piping plover populations have been steadily<br />

decreasing in Canada.<br />


Endangered<br />

Piping plover range<br />

Interior subspecies (C. m. circumcinctus)<br />

• Atlantic subspecies (C. m. melodus)<br />

NCC works with the New Brunswick<br />

Department of Natural Resources, Bird<br />

Studies Canada’s Piping Plover Guardian<br />

Program and others to ensure that migratory<br />

birds continue to grace the shores of<br />

Atlantic Canada.<br />

Each year, NCC holds Conservation<br />

Volunteers events across the country to<br />

restore areas where piping plovers are known<br />

to nest. Beach cleanups aim to clear away<br />

marine garbage that has washed up on shore<br />

and that might impede the plovers’ nesting.1<br />

natureconservancy.ca<br />

FALL <strong>2017</strong> 13



1<br />

Strategic securement<br />


1<br />

2<br />

Partners in conservation<br />

The Natural Areas Conservation Program also provides<br />

funding for projects by Ducks Unlimited Canada. An additional<br />

$5 million is available to help Canada’s land trusts to<br />

support conservation in their communities under the Other<br />

Qualified Organizations (OQO) portion of the program.<br />

natureconservancy.ca/oqo<br />

3<br />

4<br />

This 170-acre (70-hectare) property<br />

in the East Kootenay, secured by The<br />

Nature Trust of British Columbia<br />

with funding under the Other Qualified<br />

Organizations (OQO) program,<br />

BC<br />

is located 1.5 kilometres north of the<br />

confluence of the Bull and Kootenay<br />

rivers. It provides an important<br />

grassland and open forest corridor<br />

that links Crown lands on both the<br />

north and south sides of the property.<br />

The securement of this property reduces the risk<br />

of disease transmission from domestic livestock to bighorn<br />

sheep, protects the winter range for elk and deer and<br />

protects habitat for endangered American badgers.<br />

“This property is an exciting addition to existing<br />

conservation lands in the lower Bull River,” says Jasper<br />

Lament, CEO of The Nature Trust of BC. “Bighorn sheep<br />

use this property as part of their traditional winter range.<br />

Because it is bounded on three sides by other conservation<br />

lands, it is a very strategically important acquisition.”<br />

The Bull River Corridor, secured with funding under the OQO, provides an important<br />

wilderness corridor and habitat for animals such as elk, deer and bighorn sheep.<br />


14 FALL <strong>2017</strong><br />


The Noloqonokek/Nələkwənəkek Nature Preserve is part of the Grand Lake Meadows,<br />

Atlantic Canada’s largest freshwater wetland complex (12,360 acres/5,000 hectares).<br />

ON<br />

SASK.<br />

NB<br />


2 Worthy<br />

3 An at-risk<br />

4<br />

wetlands<br />




Located about 50 kilometres south<br />

of Saskatoon are the rolling Allan<br />

Hills. Because of the high density<br />

of wetlands, the area supports as<br />

many as 60 breeding waterfowl<br />

pairs per square mile, including<br />

up to 10 pairs of northern pintails<br />

— a species that has declined<br />

by more than 70 per cent between<br />

1966-2012 in North America.<br />

Agricultural and municipal<br />

development pressures have<br />

had an impact on wetlands in<br />

the Allan Hills area. Thankfully,<br />

Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC),<br />

along with some very mindful<br />

farmers, recently announced a<br />

conservation project in the area.<br />

The Bushfield conservation<br />

easement will add another 3,000<br />

acres (1,200 hectares) of conserved<br />

wetlands and grasslands<br />

in the Allan Hills.<br />

DUC has been a valuable<br />

and effective partner since the<br />

inception of the NACP. Under the<br />

NACP, DUC has conserved more<br />

than 158,150 acres (64,000 hectares)<br />

on 569 projects since 2007.<br />

watershed<br />



Secured by Ontario Nature with<br />

support from the OQO program,<br />

this 190-acre (80-hectare) property<br />

provides important habitat for<br />

wildlife in a watershed where<br />

more than 85 per cent of the land<br />

is crops. The property protects<br />

a section of the main branch of<br />

the Sydenham River, floodplains<br />

and forests dominated by sugar<br />

maple and American beech.<br />

The Sydenham River is<br />

well-known for its richness of<br />

aquatic species and contains the<br />

greatest diversity of freshwater<br />

mussel species of any watershed<br />

in Canada. Over 10 aquatic species<br />

at risk have been documented on<br />

the property, including eastern<br />

sand darter, blackstripe topminnow<br />

and salamander mussel. The<br />

section of river on the property<br />

is one of only three places in<br />

the world where the northern<br />

riffleshell mussel is healthy and<br />

reproducing. Other species at<br />

risk found on the property<br />

include cerulean warbler,<br />

red-headed woodpecker, blue<br />

ash and Kentucky coffee-tree.<br />

Freshwater<br />

diversity<br />



The Noloqonokek/Nələkwənəkek<br />

Nature Preserve, located on<br />

Middle Island in the Maugerville<br />

area of the lower St. John River,<br />

was named after the traditional<br />

Wolastoqiyik/Wəlastəkwiyik<br />

name for the island. Thanks to<br />

funding contributions under<br />

the OQO program, the Nature<br />

Trust of New Brunswick acquired<br />

the new 170-acre (70-hectare)<br />

nature preserve to conserve its<br />

floodplain forest and provincially<br />

significant wetlands. The wetlands<br />

and shores support a diversity<br />

of plants, birds, amphibians and<br />

aquatic species — including the<br />

globally rare yellow lampmussel<br />

and tidewater mucket.<br />

Located two kilometres south<br />

of the 5,300-acre (2,150-hectare)<br />

Portobello Creek National<br />

Wildlife Area, established in<br />

1995, the conservation of Middle<br />

Island now secures the rich<br />

habitat in close proximity to this<br />

national wildlife area for the<br />

long term.1<br />

Partner<br />

Spotlight<br />

This year, the Nature<br />

Conservancy of Canada<br />

presents NatureTalks,<br />

a Canada-wide speaker series.<br />

NatureTalks is an evening of<br />

thought-provoking content, led<br />

by a diverse panel of experts. The<br />

events encourage communities<br />

to come together to explore and<br />

discuss nature as a resource,<br />

an inspiration and a place that<br />

sustains life.<br />

NatureTalks is brought to you<br />

thanks in part to our presenting<br />

sponsor, TD Bank Group, through<br />

the TD Common Ground Project.<br />

This year, in recognition of Canada’s<br />

150 th anniversary, TD is helping<br />

to create a legacy of green<br />

spaces in more than 150 communities<br />

across Canada with the<br />

#TDCommonGround Project.<br />

Order your complimentary<br />

NatureTalks tickets while quantities<br />

last, and learn more about<br />

the speakers, cities and dates by<br />

visiting natureconservancy.ca/<br />

naturetalks.<br />

natureconservancy.ca<br />

FALL <strong>2017</strong> 15


NATURE<br />

Power of<br />

community<br />

As executive director of the Kawartha Land Trust, Mike Hendren<br />

is working to secure the future of the landscapes he calls home<br />


16 FALL <strong>2017</strong><br />


When Mike Hendren thinks of his favourite place in<br />

nature, he is transported to the eastern end of Ontario’s<br />

Kawartha Lakes region, on the shores of Stony Lake.<br />

“I love the feeling of water: from just being beside it, to being<br />

immersed in it,” says Hendren. “The shoreline is where a lot of<br />

biodiversity interacts and where things come alive.”<br />


Stony Lake is hugged by two shores: a perimeter of coarse granite lines the lake on<br />

the north, and a smooth shore of thick, granular sand and clay decorates the south.<br />

Each shore demonstrates the varied geology of the Kawartha Lakes; a region<br />

Hendren is passionate about protecting.<br />

“There’s such a diversity of landscapes here,” says Hendren. “We have the Oak<br />

Ridges Moraine in the south bend, the limestone plain through the middle and in<br />

the north, the Canadian Shield. Being so close to Canada’s largest metropolitan<br />

area — Toronto — and with continuing development in and around the area, it’s<br />

clear that this region is changing and evolving.”<br />

As the executive director of the Kawartha Land Trust (KLT), Hendren’s understanding<br />

of land conservation has been, in his words, an incremental journey. Originally<br />

planning to become an environmental lawyer, Hendren decided to use his background<br />

in business and master’s degree in urban planning to focus on land protection.<br />

“I wanted to be more about building a community around land conservation,”<br />

explains Hendren. “Both the organization and I were pretty young when I joined<br />

the team [in 2010], and I was given an opportunity to take on the position [of<br />

executive director] and learn by doing. I was fortunate that my predecessor and<br />

the many involved to that point had established a strong foundation to build on.”<br />

Collectively, the KLT has helped protect 26 properties in the Kawartha Lakes<br />

region. KLT has also assisted dozens more landowners with the management<br />

of their private lands and helped to find conservation options on their properties.<br />

Hendren says they plan to double the amount of KLT-protected areas in the<br />

next 10 years.<br />

“What we do as land trusts is really appealing to me; knowing that the conservation<br />

we achieve today for the land won’t be rolled back tomorrow. Although it sometimes<br />

feels as if conservation progress isn’t happening fast enough, what we have<br />

achieved so far is permanent.”<br />

Land conservation is one of the ways<br />

to ensure the future of a landscape,”<br />

reflects Hendren.<br />

Hendren credits many of Canada’s conservation successes, especially by<br />

smaller land trusts, to the Natural Areas Conservation Program (NACP).<br />

“The NACP has made land conservation more of a priority and has some good<br />

criteria that ensure other resources have to be brought to the table, specifically with<br />

the matching program,” says Hendren. “It has taken some smaller [conservation]<br />

groups to the next level.”<br />

“We accessed funding under the Other Qualified Organizations program for<br />

our Big Island project on Pigeon Lake,” says Hendren. “It was an important lift at<br />

a key time in our evolution. Achieving this<br />

large and iconic conservation project has<br />

grown our impact, our awareness and<br />

opportunities on all levels.”<br />

Although Canada has had many conservation<br />

successes, Hendren believes more needs<br />

to be done to protect land across the country.<br />

In order to make effective strides in conserving<br />

landscapes, we need to change the way<br />

we use land, he says.<br />

“Eighty-five per cent of the land in the<br />

Kawartha Lakes is privately owned. I think<br />

our region is a microscopic illustration of the<br />

larger issues of southern Canada. It’s not just<br />

about protecting a few key areas, it’s about<br />

building a natural areas system for a whole<br />

region to create impact.”<br />

With the power of community, Mike Hendren<br />

believes these conservation aspirations can<br />

become a reality.1<br />

natureconservancy.ca<br />

FALL <strong>2017</strong> 17

...continued from page 11<br />

On the terrestrial side, NCC’s McLaughlin<br />

says the NACP can be seen to be helping<br />

Canada move closer to its 17 per cent target<br />

by enabling private land conservation in the<br />

more developed areas of southern Canada.<br />

“The federal government’s tools are incredibly<br />

effective in large geographies, however the<br />

tools NCC has are built for this fragmented<br />

landscape in the south,” she says. “So the<br />

NACP supports Canada in its efforts to get to<br />

its national and international goals, in a way<br />

it would be unlikely to do otherwise.”<br />

McKenna agrees that collaboration among<br />

“unusual partners,” including private land<br />

trusts, non-profit-organizations, Indigenous<br />

communities and ranchers, is going to be<br />

key to meeting Canada’s Pathway to Target 1<br />

goals. “[We’re] bringing together everyone,<br />

from Indigenous peoples, to ranchers, to<br />

not-for-profit organizations, to develop a path<br />

to get to this goal, in addition to our advisory<br />

panel [on which John Lounds, NCC president<br />

and CEO, is a member].”<br />

Local conservation<br />

NCC’s Fort Ellice project on the Assiniboine<br />

River in western Manitoba is another example<br />

of the NACP’s potential to fuel conservation<br />

success. From a biodiversity standpoint, the<br />

3,500-acre (1,420-hectare) property boasts<br />

a concentration of threatened species and<br />

L to r: Much of the Musquash Estuary is now protected thanks to<br />

the efforts of local community members. A former Hudson’s Bay<br />

trading post, Fort Ellice is an important natural and cultural site.<br />

a diversity of prairie habitats. But as the name<br />

suggests, Fort Ellice is also an important<br />

cultural site — as the site where, in 1831,<br />

C.T. William Todd established a Hudson’s<br />

Bay Company (HBC) trading post.<br />

Kevin Teneycke, director of conservation<br />

for NCC in Manitoba, says HBC records also<br />

indicate that many Indigenous peoples set up<br />

winter camps in the vicinity. In fact, the site’s<br />

value to the local First Nations community is<br />

such that they hold a sunrise ceremony on the<br />

property each year at the summer solstice.<br />

It’s an arrangement that the property’s former<br />

owner adopted and NCC has honoured since<br />

taking possession in 2012.<br />

NCC plans to do more to recognize the site’s<br />

historical-cultural significance, as well. According<br />

to Teneycke, NCC is working with the local<br />

municipality and a local economic development<br />

corporation to establish a “low-impact, lowmaintenance<br />

interpretive site,” to highlight the<br />

site’s ecological importance and history.<br />

The theme of providing support for local<br />

conservation also underlies NCC’s administration<br />

of the portion of the NACP grant that<br />

is earmarked for use by smaller land trusts<br />

across the country, under the Other Qualified<br />

Organizations program (OQO).<br />

One such beneficiary of the OQO program is<br />

the Kawartha Land Trust (KLT), which is based<br />

in Peterborough, Ontario, and to date has<br />

helped protect 26 properties in the surrounding<br />

Kawartha Lakes region. In 2015, KLT received<br />

$108,000 in OQO program funding that proved<br />

critical in enabling it to make its largest<br />

acquisition to date — securing the 1,100-acre<br />

(450-hectare) Big Island in Pigeon Lake, a deal<br />

with a total value of more than $6 million.<br />

“The owner donated the land, while the<br />

OQO money provided a lot of the enabling<br />

cash for appraisals, human resources, a<br />

survey, some legal fees — a lot of things that<br />

are essential to completing a project, but<br />

aren’t always that attractive to donors,” says<br />

Mike Hendren, KLT’s executive director.<br />

Hendren strongly believes that the NACP is<br />

a good program that needs to continue. “I hope,<br />

in fact, it can be expanded,” he says. “In the<br />

last five to 10 years, the land trust community<br />

in Canada has really grown. We’re now better<br />

positioned to use that [support].”<br />

While NCC operates at a much larger scale,<br />

McLaughlin credits the NACP with helping<br />

to spark a similar evolution in its work in the<br />

10 years since the program began.<br />

“We’ve really established a science-based<br />

process for conservation investment,” she says.<br />

“So now, when NCC goes into an area, we’ve<br />

done the science and identified the most<br />

important places, ecologically. That means we<br />

have a different discussion with the local<br />

community. Whether that’s about the irreplaceability<br />

of a particular habitat or about building<br />

a corridor or network so that animals and<br />

plants can move, we’re now connecting people<br />

to landscapes in a way that is more meaningful<br />

to everyone.”<br />

Big Trout Bay is a case in point. This<br />

summer’s bioblitz ultimately identified an<br />

incredible 532 species of plants, birds, insects,<br />

mammals and other wildlife — information that,<br />

according to Gary Davies, “will allow NCC to<br />

create a well-grounded property management<br />

plan.” Significantly, that plan will include a public<br />

hiking trail, interpretive signage and community<br />

outreach in the Thunder Bay area. “We want<br />

people to appreciate the property and the<br />

benefits we all receive by protecting it,” he says.<br />

For McLaughlin, creating such opportunities<br />

for Canadians is one of the greatest<br />

measures of the NACP’s success. “They’re<br />

learning a little more about what makes<br />

their community special. And I think it raises<br />

awareness; it fosters a conservation ethic.<br />

All these spinoff benefits of the program will<br />

actually have a long and lasting impact, just<br />

like the long-term conservation of the land.”1<br />


18 FALL <strong>2017</strong> natureconservancy.ca

GIVE THE<br />

GIFT OF<br />


NATURE<br />

The perfect gift for any nature lover on<br />

your list this holiday season.<br />

Your symbolic gift will help the Nature Conservancy of Canada protect<br />

our country’s natural spaces and the species they sustain.<br />

Order today at giftsofnature.ca or call us<br />

toll-free at 1-800-465-8005.

YOUR<br />

VOICES<br />

Nature at your doorstep<br />

Send us your stories! <strong>magazine</strong>@natureconservancy.ca<br />

“One past July, on a warm sunny<br />

day, I cycled with a friend along<br />

the base of a large portion of the<br />

Scarborough Bluffs. We were on a<br />

road constructed years ago to slow<br />

erosion by the pounding waves<br />

of Lake Ontario along the base of<br />

the bluffs, which in some sections<br />

measure up to 300 feet high.<br />

“This natural area is less than 17 kilometres from downtown Toronto. It is<br />

another world — lush tree-cover up to the base of the bluffs, killdeer flying<br />

everywhere, bank swallows flitting in and out of their nests high up on the<br />

sandy walls, a hawk circling high above, searching for prey and the everpresent<br />

gulls over the lake.<br />

“I’m sure very few Canadians (let alone Torontonians) have ever seen or even<br />

heard of this 'wilderness' on the shore of Lake Ontario, so close to Toronto.<br />

One might easily think that I have been describing a land acquisition by the<br />

Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), but no, in this case, much of this land<br />

is owned by the Toronto Region Conservation Authority.<br />

“This could well have been an NCC story. For me, this example mirrors what NCC<br />

is all about: finding, buying, protecting and managing parcels of land, preserving<br />

flora and fauna that exist therein, for current and future generations to enjoy.<br />

“I can’t begin to describe the intensity I feel when I am in the middle of nature’s<br />

wonders, such as I was that day in July. By participating in NCC’s Gifts of<br />

Canadian Nature program, I am able, in my own small way, to spread the word<br />

to others, and hopefully spark their interest in nature and the need to help it.”<br />

~ Stuart Logan is a member of NCC’s Nature Legacy Society.<br />

He lives in Ajax, Ontario.<br />

Family values<br />

“I fell in love with NCC when I was doing a<br />

project on Canadian conservation organizations<br />

during my undergraduate degree<br />

at U of T. One of my favourites was NCC for<br />

its quiet, effective work protecting the many<br />

pieces of land that contain beautiful and<br />

functional nature, but that aren’t parks.<br />

“Giving regularly to NCC and other organizations<br />

is not just charity for me and my family<br />

— it’s an essential part of giving back. My family<br />

sees our contributions to NCC as a way to<br />

mitigate our unintended impacts, and a way<br />

to share that with our friends and family. For<br />

more than a decade, we’ve been giving and<br />

sending calendars and certificates through<br />

the Gifts of Canadian Nature (GCN) program,<br />

and our friends and family love the idea that<br />

they’ve contributed to the protection of<br />

a wild and beautiful piece of Canada.”<br />

~ Kai M.A. Chan, PhD, lives in Vancouver,<br />

BC. He has been participating in the<br />

GCN program for more than 10 years,<br />

and giving to NCC for over 20 years.<br />



245 Eglinton Ave. East, Suite 410, Toronto, ON M4P 3J1<br />

RE ID E17 A 3

Hooray! Your file is uploaded and ready to be published.

Saved successfully!

Ooh no, something went wrong!