With summer in full swing, staff have been busy at the parks, both in front of and behind the scenes!
Through our grant program, Southwestern Ontario Parks has received funding for ongoing projects designed to protect some of the province’s most unique wildlife.
Here are five of them:
A home for swallows
Swallows are some of the most unique creatures found in Ontario parks.
These birds have been around humans for so long that they almost exclusively make their homes in man-made structures, such as barns and bridges.
Unfortunately, the number of available nesting spaces has been decreasing as many old rural structures used by swallows have fallen or been demolished and are no longer suitable.
As the barn swallow’s nesting options have diminished, the species is now considered threatened in Ontario, meaning it will be endangered if action is not taken.
Ontario Parks has built three new structures in Pinery Provincial Park that will serve as ideal nesting sites for swallows to sustain the region’s population for years to come.
Protection of drivers and wildlife
While we love for visitors to see wildlife, it can be dangerous if animals cross the road when driving at high speeds.
Another donor-funded project that will have a big impact is new driver information signage at Pinery Provincial Park.
These signs will alert drivers if they are speeding and will be placed in areas where animals are most likely to cross.
There are also signs alerting drivers to the high risk of seeing animals crossing the road at that time, and more signs marking common crossing areas.
Prescribed burning program
Fire is a key conservation tool in parks, but it is important to differentiate between dangerous wildfires and prescribed burns.
For human safety, natural forest fires are carefully monitored; However, wildfires are a natural part of most ecosystems.
Prescribed burns are small, selective, controlled fires that support forest management.
Thanks to this donation, Pinery Provincial Park will have the right equipment to effectively manage its prescribed burning program.
A reminder that, while these fires are a fundamental part of biodiversity management, they are implemented by highly trained personnel under very strict and specific parameters. It is important that park visitors only have fires in designated fire pits at their campsites. Otherwise, fires can spread, cause serious damage and put people’s safety at risk.
Beach resilience to support plovers
The plover is an iconic bird of Wasaga Beach Provincial Park.
They rely heavily on nesting on beaches, making Wasaga Beach a prime location for these small shorebirds.
The species was endangered in the 1980s and was unable to nest for decades until it finally returned to the province in 2007.
Wasaga Beach has an ongoing beach resilience program that creates habitats for plovers to nest in and not be affected by human interference.
New interpretive and conservation signage
Short Hills Provincial Park and James N. Allan Provincial Park will receive new money for interpretive panels as well as trail closure signage in southwestern Ontario parks.
These interpretive panels will inform visitors about wetland restoration programs in the parks, and trail closure signage will be critical to preserving trail areas that have been damaged or are unsafe.
Ontario Parks thanks the Weston Family Foundation for their continued support.
Donations like this allow our parks to run these types of conservation programs and ensure the land is preserved for future generations to enjoy.