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Creation of Monarch Point to officially protect 4,000 acres of County’s south shore  

As waves gently crashed to the rocky beach, decades of effort to seek official protection of some 4,000 acres of Prince Edward County’s south shore, officially came to fruition.

Monday morning, local and provincial officials joined with several dozen conservation group volunteers and friends to formally announce the creation of Monarch Point, the province’s first new conservation reserve since 1999.

“We’re celebrating a watershed moment in the County’s natural history,” said John Hirsch, president of the South Shore Joint Initiative (SSJI) and councillor for South Marysburgh. “The Monarch Point Conservation Reserve ensures that generations of people will continue to enjoy access to the rare and fragile lands of this wonderfully biodiverse area.

Most importantly, it will protect the habitat of at least 39 rare and diverse species such as Blandings Turtles, dozens of migrating species and of course the Monarch butterfly.”

“Today, SSJI’s vision of a permanently protected Prince Edward County South Shore is one step closer to reality. A big step. Together, our mission continues to educate and advocate for the protection, preservation and restoration of the South Shore,” stated Hirsch to applause from the gathered guests.

South Shore Joint Initiative President John Hirsch, also South Marysburgh councillor, received the morning’s first applause as he noted success of years of efforts of  many people to protect the significant biodiversity in the 4,000 acres  on the County’s south shore.

The Monarch Point Conservation Reserve includes nearly 4,000 acres of land formerly known as Ostrander Crown Land Block and Point Petre Provincial Wildlife Area.

Its creation is the result of extensive rallying and active support of the SSJI and many others, including people from 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, Gosling Foundation and Schad Foundation and County of Prince Edward council.

Estimated at more than 30 years of effort, Prince Edward County Mayor Steve Ferguson told the crowd he was grateful for the official announcement.

“This designation will strongly contribute to the future protection of what has been described as the last undeveloped shoreline on the north shore of Lake Ontario.

Ferguson added the initiative also supports the broader, global drive to promote biodiversity, an often silent crisis as people see widespread collapse of biodiversity around the world.

“Local actions can and will make a difference,” he said. “And this conservation reserve is a tremendous achievement for the South Shore Joint Initiative and its many partners seen gathered here today… Congratulations to all the volunteers who worked so hard.”

“This day has been a long time coming,” said Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith. “I see all kinds of familiar faces who fought side by side over the years to ensure this place did remain naturally green and turbine free.”

Noting its significance as habitat for many species, Smith also noted its popularity as a place for outdoor recreation, going back generations.

“It was important to this community to ensure that this place remain protected, as is for natural preservation and human enjoyment for years to come.”

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 next step will be to set up a management plan to determine uses for the area which will include a public consultation expected to launch soon.

Speakers at the official announcement of Monarch Reserve included SSJI President and South Marysburgh councillor John Hirsch, County Mayor Steve Ferguson, MPP Todd Smith, NCC’s Mark Stabb and Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks David Piccini, with Max.

Neighbouring MPP to the west, David Piccini, representing Northumberland Peterborough, brought his dog Max to the media event to officially declare the conservation reserve. Piccini is Ontario’s Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.

He acknowledged determination by Smith to champion the initiative, and the leadership of many local residents and organizations.

He also spoke to the reserve’s namesake, noting it’s not just people coming to the stunning, natural environment.

“It’s also the Monarch butterfly that lives here in the summer then leaves to migrate to Central America, a distance of 3,000 kms or more from their homes here and elsewhere in the province.

“Even though they weigh less than a paperclip, some will travel up to 80kms in a single day. These insects are amazing creatures and not only are important pollinators but indicators of a healthy ecosystem.”

Prince Edward County’s south shore is a unique biodiversity, home to many species-at-risk and a designated Important Bird Area.

“Which is why I’m so proud to officially announce today, after countless years of advocacy and effort, Ontario’s first new conservation reserve in more than a decade – the Monarch Point Conservation Reserve…. the 296th conservation reserve in the province.”

The reserve, he noted, is roughly the same size as Sandbanks Provincial Park.

“Ontario Parks will begin working with partners like you and indigenous communities on developing safe, specific management policies…. For the many local, regional and provincial visitors that come and visit this place, know that they’ll continue to be able to enjoy the activities they were using and used to doing here.”

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) also offered congratulations on the new conservation reserve.

Mark Stabb, program director for central Ontario east NCC, noted the organization has helped to protect more than 1,850 acres including properties adjacent to Monarch Point Conservation Reserve – including 40 acres of the MapleCross Coastline Reserve in the south shores Important Bird and Biodiversity area and the 76-acre Hudgin-Rose property.

The South Shore Joint Initiative is a non-profit charity. To learn more, become a member, attend an event, volunteer or donate, visit ssji.ca

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  1. Irene Harris says:

    I trust that the Management plan, and those who are working on it are mindful of making sure that the conservation is fully accessible. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and its regulations set out what needs to be done to make sure that access to beaches, trails and public lands are fully accessibility. It would be good to hear in these announcements that accessibility will be at the to of the list.

  2. Paul D Cole says:

    I agree Mr. Woodward Gull Pond has been all but destroyed sadly..

  3. Mark Woodward says:

    This is fantastic news.

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