NATURE CONSERVANCY OF CANADA STAKES A
CLAIM please click
here for an area map.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is a national land trust
with 25,000 members. They have targeted the Carden Plain for protection
due to its globally rare alvar communities. Starting with 200
acres donated by the MacDonald bothers twenty years ago, they
have purchased the Cameron Ranch (2850 acres), then the adjacent
Windmill Ranch (1500 acres), the Prairie Smoke Reserve (675 acres),
the Little Blue Stem Alvar Reserve (710 acres), in 2008 McGee
Creek Reserve ( 500 acres) was donated, then they purchased North
Bear Alvar (800 acres). The Couchiching Conservancy working in
partnership Bought Wolf Run Alvar (200 acres) and Blue Bird Ranch
(200 acres). All together summing to over 7000 acres. In addition
the Couchchiching Conservancy hold Conservation Easements on three
properties totaling 600 acres. The expectation for 2012 is to
add acquisitions and easements totaling another 600 acres. In
2005 Ric Symmes the regional director presented NCC’s grand
ten-year plan for the Carden Plain. As shown on the map, NCC has
defined a “project area” of 25,000 acres that includes
all the quality alvar and borders Queen Elizabeth II Park (3,000
Sq. Km.) on the Canadian Shield. Their announced goal is, by 2015,to
directly protect 12,000 acres, either alone or with partners such
as Ontario Parks and Couchiching Conservancy, and indirectly protect
the balance by deflecting aggregate development elsewhere. As
of 2012 they will be two-thirds of the way there.
Much of this success is due to a Environment Canada grant to the
Nature Conservancy of $225 million of matching funds over five
years called the Natural Areas Conservation Program with the goal
of acquiring and protecting 500,000 acres across Canada. Fortunately
Carden is one of those target areas.
CARDEN CONSERVATION STRATEGY
2007 the Nature Conservancy of Canada, the Couchiching Conservancy,
the Carden Plain IBA and Wildlife Preservation Canada began an
initiative to expand the 25,000 acre alvar focused project to
include the IBA boundaries into an area of 50.000 acres focused
on species at risk as well as alvar.
The goal is to develop a program that protects species and alvar
within the target area while at the same time creating benefits
to local landowners. The initiative is named the Integrated Carden
Conservation Strategy (ICCS). Initial public meetings revealed
that landowners fear that the designation of their property as
environmentally significant will reduce its economic value. They
fear if a Loggerhead Shrike is spotted on their land they will
lose control. Bird watchers present another landowner irritant
sometimes slowing or blocking traffic and occasionally trespassing.
Landowners question why bird watchers can’t be directed
onto conservation lands and away from private property.
Taking advantage of several new sources of funding (Species at
Risk and Lake Simcoe Restoration) to address some of these issues.
A “Birder’s Code of Conduct” was published in
2008 addressing many birder behavioural concerns. In addition
some parking pull-off areas were built on Wylie Road and Prospect
Road to facilitate traffic flow. A viewing blind was constructed
at Box #10 on Wylie Road to focus attention toward conservation
lands. A parking area and a 3.5 km nature trail was built on the
Cameron Ranch to provide access while keeping birders and cattle
A grazing seminar was sponsored and well attended. It offered
suggestions to improve grazing productivity. Prompted by the seminar,
a number of landowners have become partners in property improvement
programs such as fencing, water supply and hawthorn thinning partly
paid for by government programs accessed by the Couchiching Conservancy.
In an enterprising initiative, landowners that host breeding shrike
were offered $10.00 rent for each acre they owned within a 600
metre radius of the nest. Of the thirteen landowners qualified
in 2011 five took advantage of the offer resulting in onw pay-out
of $1000 The plan is to repeat the proggram in 2012. .
The City of Kawartha Lakes Council protested to the Ministry of
the Environment that the current and potential cluster of quarries
in the area could threaten the source water supply to municipal
wells and that before any more licenses were approved a “Cumulative
Ground Water Impact Analysis” (CIA) was required. The Minister
wrote back agreeing and pledging to conduct the CIA and make the
results available. The CIA has begun by the Ontario Stone, Sand
and Gravel Operators Association (OSSGA) under the supervision
of MOE. The CIA is not expected to be completed until May 2012.
In the meantime external events changed the conditions. The recession
that began in 2008 has significantly reduced demand for gravel
with the result that Dufferin Quarry ceased operations in mid
summer, Beamish Quarry stopped preparations to initiate operations
and Moyer's Quarry although approved has not even begun preparations.
The result, instead of six quarry operations culstered together
only two are in operation.
In September of 2005, the Carden Plain IBA together with Couchiching
Conservancy, the Carden Field Naturalists and the Victoria Land
and Water Stewardship Council, hosted the Carden Plain Natural
Heritage Conference. Among the ninety attendees were naturalist,
local landowners and quarry representatives. A wide range of expert
speakers expressed why the Carden Plain was special to them. The
objective was to kick off a dialogue between the quarry industry,
conservation interests and local landowners based on mutual respect
and factual inputs. At the end of the conference the audience
was asked to recommend future action. The overwhelming consensus
was to form a multi stakeholder task force to seek a more harmonious
In October of 2005 the first task force meeting occurred with
representatives of two major quarries, Lafarge and Dufferin (Tomlinson
joined latter), plus the Ontario Stone, Sand and Gravel Association
(OSSGA), the Couchiching Conservancy, Carden Plain IBA, Nature
Conservancy of Canada plus one cattle rancher (later two local
landowners were added). On March 25, 2006 The Task force hosted
Workshop #1 “A Dialogue on the Future of the Carden Plain”.
Attendance was by invitation only in order to ensure a broad representation
of views. Approximately 65 people attended. The purpose was to
identify the key issues of concern to local landowners. Five key
issues emerged; security of water supply, quarry operations especially
blasting, the Official Planning process and zoning, land valuation
resulting from zoning, quarry truck haul routes.
On July 9, 2006, the Taskforce hosted Workshop #2 “Quality
and Quantity of Ground Water”. This time invitations were
open to anyone interested. Approximately 50 attended. Expert speakers
presented material on; Hydro geology on the Carden Plain, the
Role of the Conservation Authority and the Role of Ministry of
the Environment. An extensive panel discussion followed guided
by questions from the floor.
On November 1, 2006, the Taskforce hosted a bus tour of three
local quarries, Lafarge, Dufferin and Miller, to demonstrate the
operations process including a blast. Invitations were open to
all and about 50 attended. In each case the site manager led the
tour and questions were encouraged.
In March 2007, another Workshop was held directed at Official
Plan process. The intent was to provide attendees with a factual
understanding of what Official Plans are intended to accomplish
and how they are created. The timing anticipated that the City
of Kawartha Lakes would publish their revised new Official Plan
in the spring of 2007. This hasn’t occurred to date but
the City did conduct a Haul Route workshop negating any need for
the Taskforce to address that subject. Attendance at the Official
Plan Workshop was down substantially from earlier events and it
was decided to end the workshop program.
Discussions are proceeding with Miller Paving to construct an
interpretive sign on their property on Kirkfield Road welcome
visitors to the Carden Alvar. Both Dufferin and Miller quarries
have contributed gavel and equipment to make the parking areas
and laybys mentioned earlier. The OSSGA is trying to lead the
industry into a friendlier, less intrusive, code of conduct.
The environmental theme is being challenged politically by a significant
group of landowners, both local and away, who call themselves
alternatively the Rural Revolution or the Ontario Landowners Association
(OLA) They reject any government planned use of their private
land (i.e. zoning) especially if it interferes with what they
can do on it and who they can sell it to. They have posted signs
throughout the City reading “THIS IS OUR LAND, GOVERNMENT
BACK OFF!”. Seven local landowners, on the Carden
Plain, went further in the summer of 2006 and posted signs prohibiting
birders from looking for birds in their fields from the road.
One local landowner even began stopping birders, walking on public
roads, telling them to stop bird watching. He ceased this activity
after being confronted by the police.
In the spring and early summer of 2007 tensions between OLA and
birders appeared to have abated. Most of the anti-birder signs
were not reposted and no confrontations with birders were reported.
This calm was deceiving. In September the OLA hosted a rally on
a member’s property on the east side of Wylie Road opposite
box #10. They announced that they intended to clear all the hawthorn
trees from 13,000 acres to prevent Loggerhead Shrikes from nesting.
About 70 people attended the rally most of whom came from outside
of Carden. There were numerous speeches and loud cheers before
the rally broke for lunch. In all, about 100 hawthorn trees were
cut down in a 100-acre site. While the threats proved empty, the
rally did attract a good deal of local publicity and sparked the
initiative to create an Integrated Carden Conservation Strategy
BIRD BOX RESULTS 2011
Herb Furniss, IBA Steering Committee.
April and May were cool months as well as wet. Without food the
Eastern Bluebirds didn’t nest. As a result they were at
least three weeks late starting. However they made up for lost
time with many second nestings resulting in 135 fledgings for
2011. this is about average and Don Parkes and I are well pleased
with our results.
This is our 26th season on the Carden alvar. To date we have fledged
2905 Eastern Bluebirds. As always we look forward to the next
LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE RESULTS For 2011
Prepared by Tara Imlay, Species Recovery Biologist, Wildlife Preservation
After the encouraging increasing trend seen over the last several
years, it was disappointing that
the number of wild pairs observed in 2011 remained at a similar
level to 2010 (approximately a
third of 2009). Twenty-one pairs were confirmed in the province:
13 in Carden, 7 in Napanee
and 1 in Pembroke. There were no pairs confirmed in Fenellon Falls
Manitoulin or Smiths Falls this season. The harsh winter experienced
by many south-eastern U.S.
states where ELOSH are suspected to winter is a potential factor
in the decline seen – a reminder
of the susceptibility of this small population to stochastic events.
Fourteen of these pairs fledged
a total of at least 48 young.
Interestingly, there was a large number of single birds reported
in the province this year: 2 (1
confirmed) in Napanee, 4 (1 confirmed) in Carden, 3 (2 confirmed)
in Manitoulin, 8 (3
confirmed) in Grey-Bruce and 5 (all unconfirmed) in Smiths Falls.
Indicating that there are a
large number of birds in the province that remained unpaired again
Survey effort this season was again greatly enhanced by dedicated
volunteers from both the
Napanee Adopt-A-Site program and Ontario-wide Grassland Bird Survey
(GBS). Participation in
the GBS increased substantially this year to 111 volunteers. There
were 12 observations of
shrikes reported to the GBS coordinator, but despite follow-up
visits by both the GBS coordinator
and WPC field staff these observation remain unconfirmed. For
more information on either of
these programs please contact us.
This year saw the return to breeding grounds of 3 Ontario captive-bred
birds previously released
from the field breeding program, including one 4-year old bird.
This bird has returned to the
Dyer’s Bay release site in two consecutive years, but has
remained unpaired in both years. The
juvenile return rate of Ontario release birds was up to 2.6% (2
of 76 released in 2010) this year;
within the range of return rates observed in previous years. Of
particular note this season was the
confirmation of a 2010-release bird from Carden that was bred
at the Toronto Zoo, returning to
Carden, breeding with a wild female and successfully fledgling
at least 3 young. This type of
breeding and release program is known as “hacking”
and we’ll be experimenting more with
hacking in future years as a way to increase the number of young
The banding program continued this season, and all wild adults
banded this year received white
over a silver ID band on the right leg as part of their unique
4-colour combination. Nestling
banding occurred in Carden this year, with young banded with a
silver ID band at 9-11 days old a
few days prior to fledging. This will help us to track recruitment
of wild young into the
population next year. As always we encourage birders to try and
determine band combinations on
any shrikes spotted, and of course report any sightings to us!
(1-800-956-6608 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
Breeding and Release
In late April, birds were paired for breeding at our facilities:
the Carden and Dyer’s Bay field
breeding and release sites, Toronto Zoo and African Lion Safari.
Seventeen pairs successfully
bred this year, with 8 producing second clutches. Twenty-one young
were released in 2011 to
supplement the wild population. This is a lower than previous
years and is due to the need to
recruit a higher number of young to augment the captive population
and a higher than normal
level of mortality among our captive young this year. We retained
a large number of the young
(27) for our captive population as breeding stock for the future.
Almost half our captive
population is composed of birds within a few years of the end
of their reproductive years. The
retained young from 2011 will provide an infusion of young breeders
that can produce large
numbers of young for the next 8-10 years and enhance the genetic
integrity of our captive stock.
We are also working with veterinarians from the Toronto Zoo and
Ontario Veterinary College to
determine the cause(s) of this high mortality rate among young
produced this year. Fortunately,
the vets have indicated that the deaths do not appear to be due
to an infectious disease.
All release birds received unique 4-colour band combinations,
unless they were wearing a
geolocator (see below).
One of the returning captive-reared birds this year was released
with a geolocator in 2010. He
was caught, the device was removed, but once again the device
had malfunctioned and only the
initial, very early migratory movements in Ontario had been recorded.
This is more data than was
retrieved in 2010, but still a disappointing result. Geolocators
represent our best chance to learn
more about the migration routes and wintering grounds of this
species – a big knowledge gap that
is currently hindering recovery efforts.
Sixteen birds were released with a geolocators this year. The
birds were equipped with a silver
band over a red band on the left leg and no bands on the right.
Please keep your eyes peeled next
spring and report all shrike sightings to us! (1-800-956-6608,
Stewardship and Outreach
Over the summer months our field biologists in Napanee, Carden
and Grey-Bruce met with
landowners to investigate potential projects and several priority
projects have been identified in
each area. In Carden, project planning has been in co-operation
with the Couchiching
Conservancy through the Integrated Carden Conservation Strategy.
Habitat stewardship project
development and implementation will occur over the fall/winter.
Several articles pertaining to the Recovery Program appeared this
o An article on the shrike program is featured in the Manitoulin
Expositor Special Canada
Day Edition. “Islander urged to keep and eye out for endangered
Biologist Katherine Robbins and GBS Coordinator Erica Lagios were
o An article written by Carden Biologist Janet Lapierre was submitted
to Prairie Smoke
(newsletter for the Carden Field Naturalists) in June. “Summertime
in Shrike Country”
Public Presentations and Site Tours
WPC’s Species Recovery Biologist, Tara Imlay, staffed display
booths for International
Migratory Bird Day at the Toronto Zoo (May 14), Carden Nature
Festival (June 3-4), and
Dufferin Carden Quarry Open House (June 25). A display booth was
set up and staffed by
WPC’s Grey-Bruce Biologist, Katherine Robbins, at the Owen
Sound Fall Fair on September 8
Tours were held at the Carden Field Site as part of the Carden
Nature Festival on June 3.
A talk was given at the Norland Public Library on June 2 (Carden
A presentation to the Owen Sound Field Naturalists was given by
WPC’s Grey-Bruce Biologist
on September 8.
Landowner Appreciation Dinners
Again, this year, we hosted three ELOSH Landowner and Volunteer
Appreciation dinners and
they were very successful this year. The Carden dinner was held
Aug 24 at the Kirkfield Lions
Club. Nearly 80 people were in attendance this year, and sixteen
people attended a tour of the
Carden field breeding site prior to dinner. The Grey-Bruce dinner
was held Aug 28 at the Dyer’s
Bay field site and saw at least 40 people in attendance. A small
group received a tour of the site.
At both events, staff gave short presentations on the season’s
results and outreach materials were
made available. The Napanee dinner was held on Sept 26 at the
local Lions Club following the
local Recovery Action Group meeting.
WPC is grateful for the funding support for this year’s
shrike recovery activities from the
following sources: Canadian Wildlife Service, the Ontario Species
at Risk Stewardship Fund, the
federal Habitat Stewardship Program, and International Association
of Avian Trainers and
Educators. We are also grateful to Boisset Family Estates, makers
of French Rabbit wines, for
providing the bridge funding necessary to launch the field season.
By Tara Imlay, Species Recovery Biologist, WPC
GUIDES TO THE CARDEN PLAIN
This fold out map and guide was first produced in 2005 and proved
to be very popular It was repeated in 2007. Copies are still available
from the Couchiching Conservancy office (705)326-1620 or picked-up
at the City Service Center in Kirkfield. Copies can also be downloaded
from two websites of interest www.theCardenProject.com
A new edition is planned for 2010.
NATURE FESTIVAL JUNE 1, 2 and 3, 2012
June 2007 saw the launch of the inaugural Carden Nature Festival
as a celebration of the natural wonders of the Carden Plain, a
smörgåsbord of biodiversity in southern Ontario, close
to the GTA, and formed by a distinctive geological history. In
2010, the fourth year, 325 people attended, compared to 280 in
2009, 280 in 2008, and 200 in 2007. Attendees came from from all
across the province with about half from the GTA and another third
from Simcoe County. Market research has revealed the Festival
contributed $60,000 to the local economy 2009 Comments from participants
were extremely positive.
FRIDAY JUNE 1, SATURDAY JUNE 2, SUNDAY JUNE 3, 2012
browse and register
(or call 705-326-1620 for a free brochure)
COME ONE COME ALL
TO THE CARDEN NATURE FESTIVAL
EXPERIENCE A SMORGASBORD OF ENVIRONMENTAL DELIGHTS
New Sites to Explore
North Bear Alvar
Blue Bird Ranch
Reflections and Gratitude
Spirituality of a Tree
Loggerhead Shrike Captive Breeding
lue Bird Box Care
First Nations in Carden
||15 vendor booths inside
||Dragonflies and Butterflies in the
||Butterflies and Dragonflies for Beginners
|| Moths by UV Light
Lakes and Wetlands
of the Night
CONVENIENT Less than 2 hours
from Toronto and 30 minutes from Orillia
AFFORDABLE 1/10th the cost of an exotic eco-vacation