Did you buy something in our online Christmas store last year? In today’s post, Monica Fromberger, Darlington Provincial Park ecologist, talks about some of the vital protection work her purchase helped fund.
Darlington is hard at work this fall with some ecological integrity projects to preserve habitats for different species throughout the park.
Step 1: Beach Cliff Fencing
If you’ve visited Darlington before, you’re probably familiar with the park’s beautiful beach and spacious picnic area overlooking Lake Ontario.
Unfortunately, the small cliff connecting these two areas is eroding rapidly.
This is partly due to unauthorized use by some visitors.
We know it can be fun going up and down a steep slope; However, this is not only a health and safety risk, but also contributes to the erosion of this sensitive habitat area.
Darlington beach cliff/bank erosion
Foot traffic on the bluff tramples native plants like milkweed and many others that grow there. With the absence of these plants and their roots in the ground, rainwater easily washes and erodes the sandy soil from the cliff to the beach.
Foot traffic and erosion of Darlington beach cliff/bench
To help protect this sensitive area from further erosion and preserve the cliff, staff have installed temporary fencing to allow time for existing plants to re-establish.
This newly intact area of habitat provides a perfect space to introduce more native plants that can be beneficial to pollinators such as bees and butterflies, and also provides an opportunity to interact with local indigenous communities.
Last August, community members from Curve Lake First Nation came to the park to discuss this project and see area staff’s plan for restoration.
We are excited to collaborate with Indigenous partners to help us understand what native plants would be best for this space.
These projects also provide improved opportunities for indigenous peoples to exercise their constitutional rights to harvest for food, ceremonial or social purposes within the park.
Step 2: Plant
The next stage of this project will be to plant carefully selected native plant species in the newly fenced cliff area.
Once the plants have had enough time to establish themselves in their new home, staff will remove temporary fencing and install interpretive signs.
These interpretive signs will not only provide details about the planted species and the pollinators that may use them, but will also promote and celebrate Indigenous knowledge by including plant names in Indigenous languages and highlighting their cultural importance.
Possible native plant candidates: butterfly milkweed, black-eyed Susan, common milkweed
Our vision is to restore this eroded and disturbed area to one:
- where native plants and wildflowers thrive
- where pollinator species like the monarch butterfly, an at-risk species, can drink nectar on the beach, lay their eggs and allow their next generation to grow.
- where members of the indigenous community can harvest plants that are important to their cultural practices
- where our visitors can come to learn about the benefits and importance of these plants and this recently restored part of the park.
Monarch caterpillar and adult butterfly
Are you interested in learning more about how to plant native plants or a pollinator garden?
Check out this blog from Emily Provincial Park and this one from Sibbald Point and Frontenac Provincial Parks.
Home tweet home
Staff have also built and installed bird boxes around the park to provide more homes for their beloved feathered friends.
We look forward to welcoming you to:
- Swallows and bluebirds to the new homes installed in the Day Use Zone
- Barred Owls to new homes in our forested areas
- duck species, including wood ducks in our new duck boxes and mallards in our new chicken coops, around McLaughlin Bay
Please always give wildlife, especially nesting birds, their space so they can raise their families successfully.
If you are interested in building and installing your own bird boxes in your garden, check out the NestWatch Project for more information.
We are very proud of our environmental integrity and habitat restoration work, and grateful to Ontario Parks supporters whose 2021 online store purchases funded this work.
Help us do even more in 2023! Put the Ontario Parks online store at the top of your holiday shopping list.