Published on Thu, 12/21/2017 by Nature Conservancy of Canada

Celebrating another year of conservation successes, coast to coast

This year, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has a lot to celebrate. Coast to coast, we have conserved more than 20,000 acres (8,208 hectares) of land from the beginning of the year to November 2017 alone, adding to the 2.8 million acres (more than 1.1 million hectares) conserved since 1962. Through Conservation Volunteer events, speaker series’ and fundraising campaigns — and with the help of our partners and Canadians across the country — NCC has marked another great year for conservation.

See below for a regional break down of NCC’s top successes of 2017.

British Columbia

Conserving wetlands along the Okanagan River

The bobolink has one of the longest migrations of any North American songbird, travelling 20,000 kilometres to and from South America each year (which can add up to the equivalent of four or five times around the Earth’s circumference in a lifetime).

While walking along the Okanagan River, you may be able to catch a glimpse of a bobolink in this critical breeding location in the Okanagan Valley. The Osoyoos Oxbows area, located along the Okanagan River, fosters habitat designated as an Important Bird Area for many species.

In March, NCC announced the conservation of a 90-acre (36-hectare) property in the heart of the Osoyoos Oxbows. Once an agricultural property, the Ted Pendergraft and Sons Conservation Area has now joined other conservation lands in the area to create a growing conservation legacy along the Okanagan River.


Historic 135-year-old Oxley Ranch conserved

When Jennifer Barr was four years old, she and her family moved to the Oxley Ranch in southern Alberta. Her mother, Willa, married Jim Gordon, who gave Jennifer an old horse and a saddle with silver spots. Jennifer grew up riding that faithful horse, exploring the land and establishing a deep appreciation for the ranch she called home.

Over the years, Jim taught her the history of the land and told her stories about the people that had lived there and about the sacrifices their family had made in order to stay there.

With the future of their beloved ranch anything but certain, Jennifer and her family looked for a solution to ensure the long-term survival of the Oxley Ranch.

On March 28, 2017, the conservation of the Oxley Ranch was announced. The conservation agreement Jennifer’s mother put on the land with NCC guarantees that the Barr family can stay and continue earning a living on the ranch that has supported their ancestors since 1919.


Bioblitz unveils 10 at-risk species

This past summer, NCC staff and volunteers conducted a bioblitz on NCC’s Wideview property, unearthing 10 at-risk species. Canada’s temperate grasslands, such as those found on Wideview, are considered to be the world’s most endangered ecosystem. Grassland birds in Canada have shown major declines in the past four decades, and we were pleased to record the presence of threatened bird species, such as Sprague’s pipit and loggerhead shrike, during the bioblitz.

As grasslands continue to disappear, these iconic Canadian bird species populations are dwindling. Discovering 10 species at risk on this property is evidence of conservation in action, and their presence is an indication of the health of the ecosystem.


Partnership and prescribed fire: Working together for healthier prairies

Fire is a natural part of ecosystem dynamics and plays an important role in the development, maintenance and restoration of fire-dependant ecosystems and wildlife habitat.

In the first agreement of its kind, NCC and Parks Canada have partnered to carry out prescribed fires in Manitoba, with the goal of restoring long-term ecosystem health. The agreement aims to share resources and expertise on prescribed fire planning, training, communications and implementation in Riding Mountain National Park and on NCC properties.

A prescribed burn in early May 2017 provided an excellent opportunity for fire crews from both organizations to improve operations for future prescribed fire activities. The goal of the fire was to reduce fuels and maintain the size of rare fescue prairie grasslands by thinning encroaching woody species, such as trembling aspen and willow, and to improve the overall condition of the prairie.


Cross-border partnership leads to conservation success

Approaching the shores of Big Trout Bay, one of NCC’s newly protected areas in Ontario, you are immediately transported into a place of rugged natural beauty. This 2,517-acre (1,018-hectare) property is located just minutes from the southern Canada-U.S. border and 45 minutes from Thunder Bay. Its densely forested land and towering cliffs are crucial to many native species, including bald eagle and peregrine falcon, both of which are assessed as special concern by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

This project was possible after more than 10 years of cross-border efforts and through the support of many individuals and organizations, including the Government of Canada, through the Natural Areas Conservation Program, the J.A. Woollam Foundation, the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, the Bobolink Foundation, the Rogers Foundation, The Nature Conservancy’s Wisconsin and Minnesota programs, The Conservation Fund, Green Leaf Advisors and many individual donors in both the United States and Canada.


Conserving land for turtles at risk

On World Turtle Day 2017, NCC announced the protection of two new properties, île Hébert on the Lake of Two Mountains, at the western tip of Montreal Island, and île Reid on the Ottawa River, east of Isle-aux-Allumettes. Thanks to donations and contributions from generous partners, these important habitats will remain in their natural state as safe havens for multiple species at risk, including map turtles.

In anticipation of the turtle egg-laying period beginning in June, NCC launched the website, asking people to report turtle sightings throughout Quebec. Data collected will help identify sites in need of conservation action.

New Brunswick

Protecting important Bay of Fundy bird habitat

The island of Grand Manan, near the New Brunswick/Maine border, is located in a globally significant Important Bird Area in the Bay of Fundy, home of the world’s highest tides.

More than 350 species of birds have been identified on Grand Manan, an extraordinary diversity that includes several species designated endangered or threatened. 

In July, NCC conserved 319 acres (129 hectares) of wetland and forested habitat inside the federally designated Grand Manan Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary on the island’s south coast.  The land inside the sanctuary had been privately owned and may have been prone to development, but it is now fully protected thanks to NCC and donations from two New Brunswick families. NCC is currently working to protect the final piece of privately owned land remaining inside the sanctuary. 

Nova Scotia

Conserving karst in Cape Breton

Famous for its dramatic highlands, scenic coastline and “inland sea” of the Bras d’Or Lakes, Cape Breton Island’s unique ecosystems are a hot spot for biodiversity and species at risk. In fact, 18 federally listed species at risk and 20 provincially listed species at risk are found in the central Cape Breton region.

NCC’s first conservation project in Atlantic Canada was in Cape Breton in 1971, with the conservation of Sight Point, in the Mabou Highlands. To kick off 2017, NCC completed its first large-scale conservation plan for Cape Breton, with the goal of protecting 5,000 acres (2,000 hectares) of ecologically significant land in the central part of the island over the next 10 years.  In October, NCC announced the protection of 676 acres (274 hectares) of mature forest, wetlands and dramatic karst (gypsum-based) landscapes, featuring white cliffs, sinkholes and caves.  Cape Breton has some of the best remaining intact karst landscapes in North America, and now hundreds of acres of this rare habitat are protected by NCC.

Prince Edward Island

Protecting land for endangered piping plover

The Cascumpec Sandhills are among Prince Edward Island’s most fragile and vital habitats — fragile because the grass-covered dunes are continually shifting as they bear the brunt of severe storms, and vital because they support rare plant species and provide valuable habitat for endangered birds. Located on the northwest shore, the Cascumpec Sandhills are part of a chain of near-shore islands considered PEI’s last true wilderness.

Thanks to the generosity of a donor with PEI roots, NCC has conserved 150 acres (60 hectares) of exceptional shorebird habitat on the Cascumpec Sandhills — a critical nesting site for endangered piping plover. Through the conservation of this property and the nearby Conway Sandhills property, NCC now protects some of the most secluded nesting areas in Atlantic Canada for this globally rare species.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Expanding conservation in the Codroy Valley

NCC celebrated 20 years of conservation in the beautiful Codroy Valley by protecting an additional 150 acres (61 hectares) of forest and wetland habitat along the Grand Codroy Estuary, including one of the area’s largest bogs.

NCC has now conserved a total of 600 acres (243 hectares) in the Codroy Valley, about 40 kilometres north of Channel-Port aux Basques. The Codroy Valley not only supports one of the most diverse bird populations in Atlantic Canada, it is the location for Newfoundland and Labrador’s only Ramsar site and is a key annual stopover site for thousands of migratory birds. With a walking trail that passes through the property, it has become a popular nature destination for birders and hikers.


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scenic_oxley_ranch_in_southern_foothills_alberta_photo_by_ncc.jpgScenic Oxley Ranch in Southern Foothills, Alberta (Photo by NCC) (JPG)1.15 MB
piping_plover_photo_by_bob_devlin.jpgPiping Plover (Photo by Bob Devlin) (JPG)18.12 KB