Why is the South Shore of Prince Edward County so special?
The South Shore is the last undeveloped public land on the Canadian side of Lake Ontario. Despite more than 200 years of human use for recreation and agriculture, it hosts a very high level of biodiversity and it is home to dozens of species at risk including birds, plants, animals and fish. The South Shore provides a remarkable opportunity to enjoy nature. The biodiversity and carbon capture potential of the undeveloped South Shore is helping to mediate the effects of climate change and protect threatened habitats. Point Edward Point National Wildlife Area in the South Shore is one of the first sites with protected habitat for migratory songbirds in Canada. 2020 is a milestone year for South Shore protection. Twenty-five years ago, an International Monarch Butterfly Reserve was designated in the South Shore and annual bird migration monitoring began.
Why should I care about protecting Prince Edward County’s South Shore?
We all benefit from being outside in a calming natural environment. Prince Edward County’s South Shore provides a space for outdoor activities in a free and beautiful place. The biodiversity of the South Shore is remarkable given the hundreds of years of human use. The South Shore is the last undeveloped stretch of land on the north shore of Lake Ontario and preserving it helps to mitigate the effects of climate change.
How big is the South Shore and where is it located in Prince Edward County?
Birds Canada defines the South Shore Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) as the 26 kms stretch from Point Petre to Prince Edward Point as well as from Lake Ontario to Hilltop Road and Army Reserve Road. The South Shore land area includes 15,000 acres surrounded by 54,000 acres of near shore waters from the mouth of the Black River to Soup Harbour. South Shore Joint Initiative is focused on protecting Point Petre Provincial Wildlife Area and Ostrander Point Crown Land Block, public lands within the IBA. Sandbanks Park is not located within the South Shore IBA.
Why is the South Shore Joint Initiative focusing on public lands in the South Shore?
For twenty years, the South Shore and surrounding waters have been recognized as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA). Defined by Birds Canada, the South Shore includes two pieces of public land that are not yet protected. A further 4,000 acres of land will be protected when Point Petre Provincial Wildlife Area and Ostrander Point Crown Land Block are designated as Conservation Reserves.
Our goal is to ensure that all 6,000 acres of public land in the South Shore of Prince Edward County are permanently protected for future generations of migratory birds, at-risk-species and everyone who loves the County. People will still be able to enjoy many activities at Point Petre and Ostrander Point. Once designated as Conservation Reserves, a public consultation process will help create a management plan to make sure that natural features, cultural heritage and traditional activities are preserved.
What South Shore public lands are currently protected? How will Conservation Reserve designations for Point Petre and Ostrander Point protect the South Shore?
Conserved and protected public lands in the South Shore currently include the federally and provincially protected Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area and Timber Island Provincial Park. In addition, Little Bluff Conservation Area owned by Quinte Conservation is protected public land.
Protected public lands owned by private land trusts or conservation groups include: Gravelly Bay property owned by Ducks Unlimited Canada, Hudgin-Rose Nature Reserve, MapleCross Coastline Reserve and Bass Family Nature Reserve by the Nature Conservancy of Canada and Miller Family Nature Reserve by Hastings-Prince Edward Land Trust.
Point Petre Provincial Wildlife Area and Ostrander Point Crown Land Block are currently the only publicly owned lands in the South Shore that are not permanently protected. Without protection, these lands are at risk of being opened for residential or industrial development. Conservation Reserve status protects significant natural and cultural features while providing opportunities for a variety of compatible traditional activities on the lands
Will people be able to enjoy Point Petre and Ostrander Point Conservation Reserves?
Yes, each Conservation Reserve will have a unique management plan developed through public consultation. Conservation status protects natural as well as cultural heritage, and compatible traditional actives will continue to be permitted so people will still be able to enjoy many activities. The public will be invited to determine specific land use and help create land management plans for Point Petre and Ostrander Point.
Will I still be able to use my ATV or snowmobile at Point Petre and Ostrander Point?
ATV and snowmobile use will be allowed subject to the publicly developed management plan for each new Conservation Reserve. Point Petre and Ostrander Point have long been places where people connect with nature, with a long legacy of human activities, from Indigenous peoples to more recent recreational and tourist uses. Hunters, fishers, birders, hikers, swimmers, photographers, snowmobilers and ATV riders enjoy use of the trails, wetlands and shoreline. Public consultation will help develop specific management plans for each designated land area.
What is the difference between a Conservation Reserve and a Conservation Area?
Conservation Areas are owned by a Conservation Authority (for example, Quinte Conservation). Conservation Authorities are community-based watershed management agencies, whose mandate is to undertake watershed-based programs to protect people and property from flooding, and other natural hazards, and to conserve natural resources for economic, social and environmental benefits.
A Conservation Reserve is owned by the government of Ontario and regulated by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks. It is designated in order to protect areas that are ecologically significant.
What species at risk have been identified in the South Shore?
An area of remarkable biodiversity, Prince Edward County’s South Shore is home to 33 species at risk including birds, plants, animals and fish. Globally significant flocks of waterfowl winter in waters that surround the South Shore. Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area is one of the first sites with protected habitat for migratory songbirds in Canada. From 2001 to 2013, 6.7 million birds of 273 species were detected at Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory. Most significantly, the highest density of bird migration on the Canadian side of Lake Ontario is recorded at Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area.
The species at risk that have been identified to date in Prince Edward County’s South Shore include:
1. Red headed Woodpecker
18. Eastern musk turtle
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