NCC Magazine: Winter 2022
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Young people are leading
the way in conservation
Port Joli, NS
Nature Conservancy of Canada
4 Nature in the city
Nature is all around you, even in informal
green spaces like boulevards and roof
gardens in our cities.
6 Stony Mountain
See some of Manitoba’s prairie gems at this
property located just minutes from Winnipeg.
7 Spring cleaning
Whether you have a modest garden or a few
hectares of property, you can help protect
urban nature at home.
François Duclos gets up close and personal
8 The future before us
Youth have become an unrelenting force in
using their voices to safeguard biodiversity.
14 Piping plover
This migratory bird, distinguished by its
orange legs, is endangered in Canada.
16 Project updates
Snowshoe Creek in BC; bur oak forest
at The Keyhole, NB; conserving a critical
wildlife habitat, NS.
18 Night owls
Two night owls and a chance meeting.
Check out our online magazine page with
additional content to supplement this issue,
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In good hands
TOP TO BOTTOM: VICTORIA SNELGROVE. CHRIS LEDREW. STÉPHANE AUDET.
Kootenay River Ranch
Conservation Area, BC
It can be easy to feel overwhelmed when thinking about the
biodiversity and climate crises facing our planet. However,
over the past year, I have had the opportunity to spend time
with a group of people who give me great hope and inspiration: other
young Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) staff. This conversation
began in April 2021, when many of us attended the International
Union for Conservation of Nature “One Nature, One Future” Global
Youth Summit. This virtual event was just one example of how
young people’s voices and ideas are being increasingly recognized
as critical in developing strategies and solutions. Youth are the
engines of change.
Throughout the year, I continued meeting with my young colleagues
and discussing our role in the organization, both now and
into the future. This opportunity to connect with other young NCC
leaders (18–35 years) opened my eyes to the incredible asset that
NCC has in this group, which makes up more than 40 per cent of
the organization. Young people challenge our current ways of thinking
and act with the future in mind. When given the opportunity
and resources, our young staff can drive innovation and lead positive
change. NCC’s success in achieving our ambitious goals for the
future ultimately depends on the next generation of decision-makers,
and I am excited to see how the organization will invest in them.
In this issue’s feature story, you’ll read about just a few of the
young and inspiring colleagues who I have the privilege to work
with. And you’ll find out why young conservationists are crucial in
the execution of our organization’s ambitious goals for the future.
Though my own time as a young professional is nearing its close,
I am confident that we are in good hands. As you read through this
issue, I hope that you agree.
Yours in nature,
Manager of land protection measures, NCC
Jenn Thornhill Verma
is a journalist from
Labrador now living in
Ottawa. Her reporting
and culture. She
wrote “The future
before us,” page 8.
Geneviève Lesieur was
introduced to photography
at a young age. She
studied graphic design
and fine arts, and then
moved into graphic
communications. She is
the artistic director of a
design agency and runs
her own portrait, travel
and wildlife photography
company. She photographed
for “10X,” page 7.
WINTER 2022 3
1. Chase Woods
Nature Preserve, BC
As part of the Mt. Tzouhalem trail network,
the trails on Chase Woods traverse
moderate to difficult terrain en route
to the preserve’s clifftop views. The
journey takes visitors through lush coastal
Douglas-fir forests and across Garry oak
bluffs. Trails can become slippery in winter
weather, so explore with care.
Closest urban centre: Duncan, BC (14 km)
And more and more of us are
looking for it close to home
In and around our cities you’ll find countless opportunities
for rest, relaxation and rejuvenation. From
hiking along a wooded trail, to snowshoeing on a prairie
or cross-country skiing alongside a frozen river, a trip
to an urban park is a perfect way to take a break from
our screens and clear our heads.
Canada’s cities offer more than 15,000 hectares of natural
parkland, according to Park People. And more and more
research is pointing to the invaluable benefits of green
spaces in and around us. These places are our cities’ lungs
and kidneys, purifying our environment by absorbing pollutants.
They also reduce the risk of flooding by retaining
water from the spring thaw and heavy rainfall.
Nature is where people go to get fresh air, exercise, feel
a sense of calm or take a break from everyday pressures. In
fact, a new Ipsos Public Affairs online survey conducted for
the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) revealed that
eight in 10 people are spending time outdoors to care for
their well-being. Many are heading outside more now than
before the pandemic began.
And that’s not all. Time in nature can foster a deeper
connection to it and the desire to protect it. Are you
ready to lace up your boots to explore new places close
to you? Here are seven NCC properties within an hour’s
drive of a major urban centre:
L TO R: R.M. NUNES / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO; MICHAEL WHEATLEY / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO; CHRIS ISTACE.
4 WINTER 2022 natureconservancy.ca
Located just a 20-minute
drive from downtown
Edmonton, the four easy
trails of Bunchberry
Meadows take visitors
through native parklands,
where the quiet flow of
the river and the wind in
the trees offer a calming
experience. The property
offers excellent opportunities
for snowshoeing in winter.
Closest urban centre:
Edmonton, AB (30 km)
3. Asquith, SK
With its six kilometres of
mowed trail, Asquith’s vistas
of prairie landscapes provide
a chance to relax and
recharge. During spring and
summer, enjoy the fragrant
wildflowers and open
grasslands over the backdrop
of grassland birdsong. In
winter, the property is
available for snowshoeing.
Closest urban centre:
Saskatoon, SK (55 km)
TOP TO BOTTOM: BRENT CALVER; ROBERT MCCAW; NCC; NEIL EVER OSBORNE; MIKE DEMBECK; GUILLAUME SIMONEAU.
5. Backus Woods, ON
Visitors can walk, ski or snowshoe their way through
one of the seven trails at Backus Woods in winter
and enjoy its Carolinian forests. The property is open
year-round, and is situated in an important Bird Area
and Provincial Area of Natural and Scientific Interest
with provincially significant wetlands.
Closest urban centre: London, ON (approx 95 km)
4. The Forks Prairie Garden, MB
Nestled in the heart of downtown Winnipeg, The Forks Prairie Garden gives visitors
a break from the hustle and bustle of city life. In winter, lace up and hit the skating trail
that winds through the garden. In warmer months, visitors can immerse themselves
in this demonstration garden that features various tall grass prairie grasses and
wildflowers, providing visitors with a glimpse into Manitoba’s natural history.
Closest urban centre: Winnipeg, MB (downtown)
Hikers on the the challenging,
strenuous coastal trails here are
rewarded by views of the fully
functioning river estuaries of the
Bay of Fundy. Visitors can see coastal
peatlands and eastern white cedar
stands and plentiful patches of tall
fern. Two of the three trails here are
Closest urban centre:
Saint John, NB (approx 30 km)
With 15 spectacular trails to
choose from, the Alfred-Kelly
Nature Reserve is accessible
year-round except during spring
thaw and times of heavy rain.
Perfect for cross-country skiing
or snowshoeing in winter, or
for hiking to see the trilliums in
spring or the fall foliage, this
property has something to offer
in every season.
Closest urban centre:
Montreal, QC (60 km)
WINTER 2022 5
Large yellow lady’s slipper
See some of Manitoba’s prairie
gems at this property located
close to Winnipeg
The Stony Mountain Prairie Preserve is located
on the top of the Stony Mountain escarpment.
The preserve features a unique oasis of grasses
and flowers common to the native tall grass and
mixed-grass prairies that once covered the region.
Just a 20-minute drive north of Winnipeg, within
the town of Stony Mountain, this unique site
is situated on limestone bedrock and features
a valuable remnant of native prairie.
From the preserve, visitors can explore five
kilometres of easy recreational trails on a network
connecting this scenic prairie habitat and naturally
reclaimed limestone quarries. In spring and
summer, watch for pollinators visiting the prairie
crocuses, lilies and nectar plants that share this
space. Visitors are asked to clean their boots after
a visit, as this site also has invasive leafy spurge
growing in several places. In winter, wandering
the trail on snowshoes makes for a perfect nature
break. No matter the season, this local treasure
has something special to offer.
Please stay safe and respect physical distancing
and local health directives when visiting
NCC properties. For more information, visit
PLANTS TO SPOT
• wood lily
• big bluestem
• blue grama grass
• wild bergamot
• large yellow lady’s slipper
• prairie crocus
ROBERT MCCAW; NCC; ROBERT MCCAW. MAP: JACQUES PERRAULT.
6 WINTER 2022 natureconservancy.ca
Get your yard ready for spring
ILLUSTRATION: ASHLEY BARRON. PHOTO: GENEVIÈVE LESIEUR. INSET: ISTOCK.
Whether you have a modest garden or a few
hectares of property, you can help protect
nature at home. From planning the upcoming
gardening season to preparing seeds for
sowing, there’s much to do, even when nature
seems dormant and at rest. Cleaning up your
garden for spring can revitalize the look of your
yard. It can also help the plants and animals
in your garden, for example, by giving insects
a place to safely overwinter.
Here are a few tips from NCC stewardship staff
on prepping your garden for spring:
1. Prune small shrubs and trees to maintain
good form and vigour.
2. Clear away stalks of perennials that provided
shelter and seeds to wildlife over the winter
months. Trim plants with hollow stems to
varying heights to attract cavity-nesting insects.
3. Divide and transplant perennials that
bloomed the previous fall. Moving them
while they’re dormant can minimize stress
on the plants.
4. Rake lawns later in spring when temperatures
reach 10 C consistently for 10 days.
Do so gently to ensure you don’t disturb any
caterpillars, cocoons and chrysalids.
5. Learn about which plants are native to your
area and find out how you can incorporate
these species into your garden.
Bonus (if you have feeders and nest boxes):
sanitize feeders, bird baths and nest boxes to
minimize the risk of parasites and disease for
François Duclos gets up close and
personal with nature, using his geology loupe
The moment you step into your first geology class, you adopt a new staple
item that never leaves your backpack: the 10X magnifier. Geologists use
magnifiers to help identify rocks, minerals and fossils, which often only
reveal their true identity when looked at under the magnifier lens. My career has
since taken a very different path, but the magnifier has never left my bag.
Nowadays, whether I’m taking a stroll on a pebble beach on the Gaspé Peninsula,
or hiking up a volcano in Central America, I can’t resist the urge to explore
the world beneath my feet. This world includes fungi, lichens, insects and even
snowflakes, which all offer amazing spectacles barely visible to the naked eye.
It sometimes feels a little awkward to kneel and look through a magnifier
while other hikers are standing and looking up through their binoculars. Next
time we meet, let’s take a minute and show each other the world through our
WINTER 2022 7
8 WINTER 2022 natureconservancy.ca
force in their
use their voices
BY Jenn Thornhill Verma
ART BY Tara Hardy
Rebekah Neufeld talks about the bur
oak trees that backdrop her family’s Ninette,
Manitoba, farm like she knows them. They
have always provided, says Neufeld, whether
as a source of recreation for climbing or a source of firewood
for heat. Now 32 years old and with a decade of working
for the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), currently as
the acting conservation science manager for the Manitoba
Region, Neufeld appreciates the oak trees for their persistence,
“Bur oaks will grow on dry, hot, rocky or sandy habitats
as short, gnarled survivors; they flourish in thick forests
along river valleys and floodplains; or they grow tall with
spreading branches in open prairies, where they can survive
prairie fires and harsh winters,” says Neufeld, “Nature
is home. It’s fun. It’s sustenance and protection. It’s part
of who I am, and yet it’s a giant, fascinating mystery.”
Exuding youthful energy and enthusiasm, Neufeld
lights up when she talks about nature and ways to protect
Canada’s most precious natural places. She’s in good
company at NCC, where 40 per cent of the staff is younger
than 35. Globally, youth have become an unrelenting force
(one might say like a bur oak) in their mission to use their
voices and share their values to safeguard biodiversity
and the environment.
WINTER 2022 9
A strong workforce of young adults (those aged 18–35)
is a strategic advantage because it helps us focus on
tomorrow, take bolder actions, think innovatively and
consider long-term impacts, says NCC’s president and
CEO, Catherine Grenier.
“When you have a young cohort working with you, it
allows you to glance at what the future’s going to look
like,” says Grenier. “In the nature conservation field, it’s
important to have all demographics represented, but
especially young adults, because they’re the ones who
will see the benefits of the work we are doing now in
five, 10, 15, 25 years.”
If you look back at NCC’s big accomplishments from
the last while, there have been young people involved in
almost every one,” says Megan Lafferty, NCC’s manager
of land protection measures. “For example, young staff
led the Vidal Bay project, our largest to date in Ontario.
From fundraising to closing projects, many young staff
were instrumental in the success of our Landmark
Campaign. And they are pushing us to do more, better.”
Lafferty has joined Grenier for today’s interview
about young people leading the way in conservation.
The joint interview is a subtle, but important, signal
that shows NCC’s youthful advantage is not by accident,
but by design. Lafferty, 32, heads up a taskforce of
young staff entrusted with making recommendations
to NCC’s management, using the “by youth, for youth”
approach, well-understood as a prerequisite for
meaningful youth engagement.
Young people know what young people need,
Lafferty says, and when they lead with a clear purpose,
it injects their fresh perspectives and unique values
into conservation efforts.
“Young people today think more about social impact and
take a more comprehensive look at their actions and their
consequences, as well as the interconnectedness of the
things we do,” says Lafferty, “We’re seeing more and more
how interconnected the challenges we’re facing are with
climate change and biodiversity. Supporting young people
who have that interconnected vision is important if we want
to address those challenges.” Added to that, Lafferty says,
is that today’s youth leaders are tomorrow’s world leaders.
“In the climate and biodiversity space, youth are not
tomorrow’s leaders, they’re the only leaders,” challenges
James Bartram, president of the Canadian Committee
for the International Union for Conservation of Nature
(CCIUCN). It’s a bold statement from someone who is
a strong supporter of intergenerational learning, where
people of all ages learn together and from one another.
But Bartram’s statement is not meant to undermine the
contributions of previous generations. Instead, he credits
young people for having mainstreamed climate change in
global conversations, and says the same will only happen
for biodiversity if youth are educated, equipped and empowered
to lead. To help young adults advance their conservation
leadership, CCIUCN has for many years hosted
a Youth Ambassador Program, while their Young Professionals
in Canadian Conservation Network is a one-thousand-member-and-growing
inclusive virtual network raising
up the voices of young conservation leaders.
The recovery of a nationally endangered
butterfly in Ontario and the study of
at-risk grassland songbirds in Alberta
were the first two projects in NCC’s
Weston Family Conservation Science
The program supports and trains
graduate students conducting NCC
priority research so that they can
become next-generation leaders in
applied conservation science. Research
by fellows, such as first cohort Emily
Trendos and Zachary Moore, supports
conservation and management of
important natural areas and biological
diversity across Canada.
Fellowships are advertised for specific
research projects, specifying whether
the fellowship is for a PhD (four years
of stipend support) or MSc (two years
of stipend support).
Amy Wiedenfeld, a doctoral student in
biology at the University of Lethbridge,
has been selected to study the viability
of some of Canada’s most at-risk plant
populations in the Carolinian forest
region. Beginning in January 2022, the
fellowship provides four years of support.
This fellowship program is fertile
training ground for the next generation
of conservation leaders. It aims to attract
the brightest young scientists, with plans
to add two fellows each year.
“As a program
fellow, I have been able to
explore the Rocky Mountain
Foothills of Alberta, conducting research
that will help in conserving the grassland
songbirds protected by NCC and its partners.
The program allowed me to not only complete
my studies and research, but also meet active
conservation professionals, gain new
insights into the field and develop my
own professional expertise.”
“The program has
allowed me to not only
contribute to the conservation of an
endangered butterfly species, but the
results of this work will benefit the
development of best management practices
for tallgrass ecosystems. NCC has also helped
me develop meaningful relationships
between me and other wildlife and land
management professionals — an
essential component of successful
Opposite L to R:
and consider longterm
Megan Quinn is a youth leader with ties to NCC and
CCIUCN. At 26, she’s NCC’s coordinator of conservation
biology for eastern Ontario. She’s also a member of the
Young Professionals Committee of the CCIUCN and a sustainable
development goal youth impact mentor with the
United Nations Association in Canada. In Quinn’s work,
no two days are the same. One day, she’s in the field, removing
invasive species, such as non-native buckthorn,
from eastern Ontario forests. The next, she’s writing and
filing reports at her desk. But most days, she’s up early
for a pre-work ride at the 150-hectare horse farm where
she lives,outside of Ottawa, Ontario.
“I look at nature with a new perspective from the back
of a horse,” says Quinn, who is also a competitive horse
rider. “Riding keeps me connected to nature and reminds
me that I’m a part of it. When I’m out on a trail with my
horse, he’s picking up the squirrel rustling in the bushes,
before I even see it. During a competition, my horse and
I aren’t working independently, we’re a team. I think
there’s something really beautiful about that.”
Quinn’s family immigrated to Canada from a former
coal-mining town in northern England. The move opened
her eyes to the sweeping Canadian wilderness, in turn
instilling a sense of responsibility.
“Canada, with the vast amount of space that we have,
we also have a big obligation to help protect it,” says
Quinn. “Sometimes we’re guilty of saying that nature is
over there, and we are over here. But we’re all part of
the same system. We’re all figuring out how to get along.”
WINTER 2022 11
The challenges we’re facing with climate change
and biodiversity are interconnected. Supporting
young people who have that interconnected vision
is important if we want to address those challenges.
MEGAN LAFFERTY, NCC MANAGER OF LAND PROTECTION MEASURES
Part of figuring it out, says Quinn, is to make space
for youth. But one obstacle is the common misperception
that all young people are the same.
“Sometimes we lump youth into one group. But ‘youth’
is a demographic that spans different political, societal,
racial, gender [and] sexuality constructs. Everyone’s experience
of being a youth is different,” says Quinn.
Quinn’s comments also point to the resounding need to
bring together young people from a range of skillsets, to
perform a range of functions — from those working in the
field on the frontlines of conservation to those fundraising
and managing the balance sheets in offices and boardrooms,
and everything in between.
All skills welcome
“There’s room for everybody, no matter what your skillset
is,” says 27-year-old Robin Lawson, communications
coordinator with NCC’s Ontario team. “In conservation,
I think the prevailing mindset is you have to be a biologist.
But we need accountants. We need storytellers. We need
people with organizational skills. I think I’m a great example:
I have skills in graphic design and photography,
and I applied them to my passion for conservation.”
One of Lawson’s more memorable photography trips
was hiking McKellar Point overlooking Lake Superior in
Little Trout Bay Conservation Area, about 45 minutes
outside of Thunder Bay. Boots on the trail and camera in
hand, Lawson recalls pinching one eye closed while framing
shot after shot of the lush landscape. From images
of the smallest lichen to the tallest pine tree, she says
photography can transport people into the heart of the
Canadian wilderness, bringing what’s out of someone’s
usual frame of reference, to front and centre.
For those working in conservation, the trail ahead requires
tackling monumental challenges and taking what
the Global Youth Biodiversity Network calls “unprecedented
action.” Today’s youth are sadly familiar with failure,
reports the network, having seen failed global
12 WINTER 2022 natureconservancy.ca
commitments from the Millennium Development Goals to
the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the Kyoto Protocol.
That’s why the network is calling on young people to bring
their voices, hearts and actions together in a global movement
to push world leaders to up the ante toward an
equitable and sustainable future. Practically, Lawson says,
that means young leaders and today’s world leaders must
work together on a common agenda.
“It’s great to have a fresh perspective from youth. On the
flip side, it’s great to have expertise and lived experience,
which is why I’m a huge advocate for intergenerational
collaborating and capacity-building,” says Lawson. “We
can’t just give the kids their own sandbox and say, ‘Okay,
go over there.’ And ‘That’s done. The youth are engaged.’
Or we can’t just give them a seat at the table and say,
‘Here, you sit here and watch.’ We need to create opportunities
for intergenerational collaboration where you can
have these different perspectives and levels of experience
and background come together.”
Lawson is familiar with intergenerational partnership
because she lives it in the boardroom, on the board of
CCIUCN where her votes, authority and influence carry
the same weight as any board member.
CCIUCN’s James Bartram calls intergenerational capacity
exchange “the sweet spot,” arguing it works best
when “involving experienced professionals who are more
mission-driven than they are in pursuing their own career
pathway.” In other words, he says, “what you need
are role models who understand they’re getting as much
out of it as the young person. This is not just capacity
building, it’s capacity exchange.”
For intergenerational learning to
become the rule requires a systemic
effort, which is helpfully presented
in a February 2021
on the topic. The review
has since spurred the
IUCN, the world’s
organization, to commit
to a youth strategy, a
youth advisory committee
to carry out that
strategy and create ongoing
a lot on how you
Is it kids,
adults? You don’t reach youth in the same way. Ultimately,
if it’s not designed for you, it won’t speak to you,” says
Sandrine Grenon-Lalonde, the national outreach programs
coordinator for youth engagement at Parks Canada,
which engages Canadians of all ages in a variety of
ways. Grenon-Lalonde says it all comes down to creating
“meaningful experiences,” be it work, volunteering or
visiting historic sites, national parks and marine conservation
“By providing youth with meaningful experiences, we
increase the likelihood that they will act to protect nature,
becoming influencers and champions of conservation,”
“It’s helpful to have more perspectives because the collective
good that can result from that, it’s huge,” says Jon Kelly,
a 31-year-old land administration manager for NCC’s British
Columbia region. Kelly says NCC is replete with intergenerational
learning models, where fresh perspectives meet
sage advice and experience. Advancing the conservation
agenda requires tapping into people of all ages and demographics
who are motivated by confronting challenges, he
says. Kelly considers himself to possess that trait, motivated
by what he describes as “untangling the wires a little
bit.” He says young people hold the key to sustainability,
which is a tough nut to crack in a field that requires years,
often decades, to reap the benefits from today’s efforts.
“Young people are bringing new perspectives and fresh
energy to the conservation field. As the critical importance
and need for conservation is becoming increasingly
evident and NCC is growing to address this need, I think
these perspectives will help sustain this work and advance
conservation further,” says Kelly.
For NCC, meaningful youth engagement requires
a commitment from the top to recognize the value youth
bring to the table and provide them with a meaningful
voice and growing opportunity, says Catherine Grenier. She
adds that it needs to be about building an inclusive culture
where youth feel valued and find opportunity to share and
learn. When that happens, youth attract more young
people to the organization, recruiting from the inside out.
The organization hires many of its staff as interns (in fact,
that’s how all the young people interviewed for this article
got their start). NCC is also developing applied conservation
scientists. The Weston Family Conservation Science
Fellowship Program supports graduate students undertaking
NCC priority research in the conservation and management
of Canada’s natural areas and biodiversity. The
program welcomed its latest fellow in January.
Back in Manitoba, Neufeld has seemingly started her
own informal recruitment campaign for the next generation
of youth leaders. Last summer, the Manitoba Museum
featured her in an exhibit focused on Manitoba’s prairie
landscape. Neufeld earned a fan in her colleague’s sevenyear-old
daughter, who visited the gallery, eager to watch
and re-watch Neufeld’s interview.
“That’s one of the first instances,” Neufeld begins, shying
away from calling herself a “role model,” because she
says, “I still very much feel like I’m learning and not there
yet, but it is a role I’m starting to play.”1
WINTER 2022 13
by its orange legs,
14 WINTER 2022
Short and stocky, piping plovers
have a white breast, abdomen and
rump. Their head, wings and back are pale
brown to grey, and they have an eye-to-eye
black stripe across their forehead and single
black band across their chest. This species
is most easily identified by their orange
legs, which are brightest during
Piping plovers are migratory birds. During
spring and summer in Canada, they breed
along the Atlantic coast, in northwestern Ontario
and along the lakes and saline wetlands of Saskatchewan,
Alberta and southern Manitoba.
In fall, piping plovers migrate south and winter along
the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and other southern
locations. Over the years, their nesting range has
decreased, especially in the Great Lakes area.
Many of this species’ nesting and wintering areas
are under threat and it is now considered
endangered in Canada.
What NCC is doing
to protect habitat for
The Nature Conservancy of Canada
(NCC) protects 3,692 hectares in
Assiniboine-Quill Lakes Natural Area.
This includes more than 2,300
hectares of habitat for piping plover.
The shallow, saline lakes of NCC’s
Shoe Lake West property, within the
Missouri Coteau Natural Area, dry out
in the summer and provide the perfect
environment for piping plovers.
NCC also protects habitat for this
species in New Brunswick and
PHOTO: ROBERT MCCAW. ILLUSTRATIONS: CORY PROULX.
When nesting, piping
plovers seek out beaches and
tidal flats above the high-water
mark, with sand, gravel or cobble
and little vegetation.
Some of the threats facing
this small shorebird include
habitat loss from development
and disturbances from
recreation and motorized
In winter, they use coastal
beaches, mudflats and
Help protect habitat
for species at risk at
The life of a
Once they find a mate at their
breeding grounds, males scrape
a shallow nest in the sand or gravel,
which they then present to the
female for inspection. To keep the
eggs off the wet sand, the male
lines the nest with shells or pebbles,
which also drain rainwater and
camouflage the eggs.
In May, the female plover then
lays two to four cream-coloured
eggs covered in small, dark spots.
The chicks hatch in June and emerge
fully feathered. Within hours, they
are able to run and feed on their own.
In three to four weeks, they can fly.
These shorebirds migrate to their
wintering grounds beginning in
WINTER 2022 15
Snowshoe Creek Conservation Area
BELLA COOLA, BRITISH COLUMBIA
Your support has made these
projects possible. Learn more at
Afew years ago, Bella Coola, BC, residents Harvey and
Carol Thommasen purchased a property along the Bella
Coola River with the intention of seeing it become a bird
sanctuary. With the support of the Nuxalk Nation, who are committed
to protecting vulnerable ecosystems in their territory, the
Thommasens gifted the property to the Nature Conservancy of
Canada (NCC) to care for in perpetuity.
“Carol and I donated this land to NCC mostly to help forest birds,
whose populations have declined by 30 per cent since the 1970s,”
says Harvey. “This land will also help the salmon and trout and will
provide a secure travel corridor for animals like deer, grizzly bear and
other large mammals.”
Snowshoe Creek Conservation Area is near the traditional Nuxalk
village site of Nutl’lhiixw and the present-day Burnt Bridge Conservancy.
A grove of old-growth western red cedar contains numerous
culturally modified trees, a testament to the thousands of years of
Nuxalk history in the area.
“The Nuxalk Nation has been exercising our rights and title since
time immemorial,” says Councillor Iris Siwallace, Nuxalk Nation.
“We have given our support to the Nature Conservancy of Canada to
manage this area as we believe they will be able to protect this land
for our Putl’lt — those who are not yet born.”
This project was supported by many generous NCC donors.
The land donation was made through the Government of Canada’s
Ecological Gifts Program.
Read the whole story at natureconservancy.ca/snowshoecreek.
COURTESY SUSAN HARRISON; HARVEY THOMMASEN.
I began working
from home in March
2020. Realizing I needed
to get up and move, I ventured
out into my suburban community for daily
walks and discovered, much to my delight,
three water catchment ponds five minutes
from my front door. There were ducks and herons,
red-winged blackbirds and rabbits. I was
even treated to the occasional deer sighting. I
had always revered the natural world but had
very little up close and personal experience
with it until then.
Snowshoe Creek Conservation Area, BC
“Although already a proud NCC supporter,
my experience with the ponds brought home
to me the importance of the organization’s
work, and I wanted to express my appreciation.
In the first year of working from home,
I’d saved $3,825.50 in gas and highway toll
charges. I donated that amount to NCC and
I challenge other NCC supporters who’ve
enjoyed a back-to-nature experience during
the pandemic to do the same.”
~ Susan Harrison,
monthly donor since 2019
Shaw Wilderness Park, NS
MIKE DEMBECK; MIKE DEMBECK; IRWIN BARRETT.
Bur oak forest at The Keyhole, NB
Bur oak forest at The Keyhole
NCC is working toward establishing a new nature reserve 55 kilometres from New Brunswick’s capital
city, Fredericton. This conservation initiative will protect a key wetland habitat from cottage development
while also aiming to help reduce the effects of seasonal flooding in the region.
Known as The Keyhole, this natural cove is located along the shoreline of Grand Lake, the province’s
largest lake. It includes wetlands and a mature floodplain forest (70 hectares) along the province’s
longest river, the Wolastoq (St. John River). This project will be linked to a broader initiative
involving partners with a common interest in protecting the wetlands and a forested buffer area along
the greater Wolastoq area.
The National Tree Seed Centre of the Canadian Forest Service has assisted with assessing provincially
rare bur oak trees discovered on the property. With your support, NCC is collecting seeds for
planting at The Keyhole and for bur oak restoration throughout the area.
Conserving a critical
SOUTH SHORE, NOVA SCOTIA
There is currently an opportunity to expand
upon 630 hectares of NCC-conserved land
nestled along Nova Scotia’s wild and scenic
South Shore. The Port Joli peninsula is a hot
spot for biodiversity, and the existing NCC
protected lands and adjacent provincial and
federal protected lands here (like Thomas
Raddall Provincial Park and Kejimkujik National
Park Seaside) enable wildlife to thrive. The area
contains three federally established Migratory
Bird Sanctuaries where geese, ducks and
plovers return to the same salt marshes and
tidal flats for feeding and overwintering. With
your help, an additional 157 hectares will be
conserved, connecting existing NCC-protected
areas with partner-protected areas for the
benefit of the greater region.1
Port Joli, NS
NCC relies on the support of
generous donors and supporters.
Environment and Climate
Change Canada (ECCC) has been
supporting NCC’s work across
the country for several decades.
This support continues largely
through the Natural Heritage
Conservation Program (NHCP),
a unique public-private
partnership that mobilizes
Canadians to conserve and care
for nature. Each dollar invested
by the Government of Canada
is matched at least 2 to 1 by
generous contributions from
other donors. The partnership
has resulted in the conservation
of nearly 600,000 hectares of
land and fresh water, an area
larger than Prince Edward Island.
This includes NCC projects like
Shaw Wilderness Park in Halifax,
Nova Scotia, and Darkwoods
Conservation Area in BC.
ECCC also supports NCC’s
work through the Ecological
Gifts Program and the recently
announced Nature Smart
Climate Solutions Fund. With
the support of these programs
and the NHCP, NCC is working
to sustain communities across
Canada. These conserved lands
provide important nature-based
solutions that offer clean air
and drinking water, buffer
against the effects of climate
change and support human
health and wellness.
Learn more at natureconservancy.
By Megan Quinn, NCC coordinator of conservation biology for eastern Ontario
Iam not a morning person. To emphasize that point,
I’m writing this Close Encounters at midnight, when
I really should be in bed. However, one thing I’ve
learned from my work with the Nature Conservancy of
Canada (NCC) is that nature won’t wait while I sleep.
One cold January morning, I found myself walking
beneath the old-growth eastern white pine trees at NCC’s
Gillies Grove Nature Reserve in Arnprior, Ontario. Winter
had firmly set in. A light dusting of snow covered the
trail, and I was glad to be dressed warmly for my day of
field work. A limited number of daylight hours forced me
to start my hike just as the sun was rising. The forest
was quiet. I was the only human out that morning, but
despite the silence, I certainly wasn’t alone in the forest.
I don’t know what made me look up, but as I turned
my head toward the trees, a ghostly shape drifted past.
It would be easy to assume the rising sun was playing
tricks with my eyes, but this phantom was just as real as
me. It was a barred owl.
This large, stocky bird is easily identified by its mottled
body, dark eyes and yellow beak, but that morning all
I saw was a bright silhouette. Barred owls can be found in
mature forests with a mix of coniferous and deciduous
trees — like those found at Gillies Grove. They are skilled
hunters, often hunting at dawn and dusk. They perch in
trees before swooping low into the forest to catch their
prey (typically small mammals like mice, squirrels and
rabbits). Unless you’ve been lucky enough to witness it,
it’s hard to describe how remarkably silent barred owls
are when they fly. Like most owls, their feathers are incredibly
soft, with a unique shape that means they make
almost no noise while in the air. If I wasn’t looking at the
exact right time on that day, I would have missed it.
The barred owl got its breakfast, and I moved quickly
on to let it eat in peace. As I continued my hike, I smiled.
From one night owl to another, it was a privilege to witness
this majestic creature ending its day, just as mine
18 WINTER 2022 natureconservancy.ca
Your passion for Canada’s natural spaces defines your life; now it can define
your legacy. With a gift in your Will to the Nature Conservancy of Canada,
no matter the size, you can help protect our most vulnerable habitats and the
wildlife that live there. For today, for tomorrow and for generations to come.
Order your free Legacy Information Booklet today.
Call Marcella at 1-877-231-3552 x 2276 or visit DefineYourLegacy.ca
Old Man on His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area, SK
Old Man on
His Back Prairie
This year, we celebrated
a quarter century of conservation
work at Old Man on His Back
Prairie and Heritage Conservation
Area — located in one
of the most endangered
ecosystems in the world —
thanks to your ongoing support.
TOP TO BOTTOM: JASON BANTLE; TIAH COXON; COURTESY ANDREW HOWICK.
Molson Island, QC
Montrealer Andrew Howick
spent more than a decade buying
up every hectare of bog, rock
and forest on Molson Island
(26 hectares) in Quebec’s Eastern
Townships, all to donate the
land to NCC this past fall.
To all of our supporters, thank you
for all you do for nature in Canada!