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Mya Van Woudenberg & Alanna Evans
EVC Bootcamp

When you live in the big city, it’s pretty easy to feel bogged down in the concrete jungle. Thankfully, just an hour and half east of Toronto, lies one of Ontario’s hidden treasures - the Rice Lake Plains. Not only are the plains home to some of Ontario’s last remaining prairies and savannas, but you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a different province as you stroll through these natural gems! Best of all, they’re all free to explore!

...continue reading "Top 5 Surreal Places to Visit in the Rice Lake Plains"

Hazel Bird Trail

On a crisp fall day in early October twenty donors, volunteers, and neighbours gathered at the Nature Conservancy of Canada's (NCC) Hazel Bird Nature Reserve to celebrate the opening of brand new trail. ...continue reading "Nature Conservancy of Canada Announces Launch of New Trail"

Prairie Day 2014

The day dawned grey and overcast on September 20th, 2014 for the 7th Annual Prairie Day at Alderville Black Oak Savanna Ecology Centre, a 30-minute drive north of Cobourg. Despite the ominous weather, the event started off well with a smudging ceremony from the Alderville First Nation, as well as speeches carrying messages of hope and regeneration. ...continue reading "Prairie Day 2014: Celebrating the Rice Lake Plains / Alderville Black Oak Savannah"

The dry rolling hills of the Rice Lake Plains, at the eastern end of the Oak Ridges Moraine in Central Ontario, were historically a 17,000–30,000 ha (42,500–74,000 acres) tallgrass prairie landscape.

Fire suppression, conifer plantations and, increasingly, invasive species, have changed and degraded the now globally rare black oak savanna and other significant tallgrass habitats of this region. The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) began investing in conservation of the Rice Lake Plains in 2001, with the goals of protecting and restoring multi-property tracts of tallgrass prairie communities.

Inspired by the active tallgrass prairie management of the Alderville First Nation Black Oak Savanna and the Red Cloud Cemetery Prairie, NCC forged the multi-partner Rice Lake Plains Joint Initiative in 2002 to raise awareness and to collaboratively work on a landscape-scale to restore tallgrass habitats.

A Natural Area Conservation Plan was created, which helped prioritize and guide initial land purchase and identify areas of high priority for management, restoration and landowner contact. Through this partnership, over 3,000 ha (7,413 acres) have been evaluated, 536 ha (1,324 acres) have been secured, and over 150 ha (370 acres) have been restored using prescribed burns. Private landowners are learning about the ecological communities on their land and what they can do to protect and maintain tallgrass prairie communities.  There have been challenges, as partners and the local community respond, adapt and rise to the possibilities and realities of tallgrass restoration. To date the partnership has grown to seven groups and momentum continues to build to help revitalize this globally rare ecosystem.

Todd Farrell and Mark Stabb
Nature Conservancy of Canada
Uxbridge, Ontario