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County’s Monarch Point is Ontario’s newest conservation reserve

Photograph taken along the south shore, by Bert Jenkins.

Ostrander Point Crown Land Block and Point Petre Provincial Wildlife Area – nearly 4,000 acres along the south shore of Prince Edward County, Canada’s last undeveloped Lake Ontario shoreline – are now designated as Ontario’s newest conservation reserve, Monarch Point.

Prince Edward County’s South Shore Joint Initiative (SSJI) board and partners were thrilled to hear of the designation approval. They were part of the official process which began in 2020. The lands are the first new conservation reserve identified since Ontario’s Living Legacy Land Use Strategy, announced in 1999, which resulted in the creation of 58 new provincial parks and 268 new conservation reserves.

David Piccini, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks is expected to make a public announcement in the County in the near future.

Since 2018, SSJI has raised awareness about the south shore. The globally-significant public lands are internationally recognized as a critical migratory pathway and home to remarkable biodiversity.

“We’re thrilled that the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks has moved forward with this important designation.” said John Hirsch, SSJI president. “We’re proud to have participated in the consultation process and look forward to being involved in future land management planning.”

A range of activities, such as hunting, all-terrain vehicle use and picnicking, are permitted in conservation reserves. Where ecological values are being affected, potential management options and restrictions may be implemented (e.g. timing, closure of trails).

“The Monarch Point designation is deeply meaningful to thousands of community members as well as local, provincial and federal non-profit partners. We’re profoundly grateful for the active support of the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County, Birds Canada, Hastings Prince Edward Land Trust, Kingston Field Naturalists, Nature Canada, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Ontario Nature, Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory, Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, Quinte Field Naturalists, Point to Point Foundation, Consecon Foundation, Gosling Foundation and Schad Foundation and, of course, the Council of the County of Prince Edward.”

For more than five years, SSJI has led local efforts for the permanent protection and preservation of South Shore lands and waters. The organization hosts regular South Shore Strolls and encourages enjoyment of these public lands through initiatives such as a new Eco-footpath.

Cultural and built heritage is another focus of this volunteer-led environmental non-profit. Restoration of the heritage-designated Hudgin Log House is well underway. Once completed, it will become a unique field centre where students, scientists, researchers and the public will be able to deepen their understanding of the south shore’s incredible biodiversity and history.

“South Shore Joint Initiative came together in 2018. Today, we celebrate this watershed moment in our County’s natural history,” added Hirsch. “Monarch Point Conservation Reserve will ensure generations of people will continue to enjoy access to the rare and fragile lands of this remarkably biodiverse area. Most importantly, it will protect the habitat of at least 39 rare and at-risk species such as Blanding’s Turtles, dozens of migrating bird species as well as Monarch Butterflies.”

SSJI is hosting an online screening of the award-winning film Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly on June 23 at 1 p.m. Prince Edward County is home to one of just three International Monarch Reserves in Canada and this 56-min film captures the butterfly’s incredible migration story. To confirm free registration for a school group, send an email to katherine.rogalska@ssji.ca. General public tickets are also available for $10 online here.

As a Canadian registered charity, South Shore Joint Initiative relies on the generosity of donors and supporters to advance its mission. To learn more, become a member, attend an event, volunteer or donate, visit ssji.ca

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  1. Irene Harris says:

    This is quite an achievement. I am disappointed that the Regulatory site for this speaks to the area being used for hiking, bird watching and hunting. current recreational uses remain, but there is a warning that this could change. If it’s for hikers, bird watchers and hunters, it won’t help any of us with physical limitations . Unless the conservation area is fully accessible, it won’t be for everyone . I hope the area remains ‘multi-use’ and has built in accessible means so that everyone benefits.

  2. David Thomas says:

    What a tremendous achievement! Well done SSJI and others. Your ongoing efforts to highlight what a special place the SSJI is are greatly appreciated. The work has just started though!

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