Conserving Habitat in Rice Lake Plains, Ontario

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, ON, Jan. 17, 2012 /CNW/ - Canada's Minister of the Environment, the Honourable Peter Kent, today announced the Nature Conservancy of Canada's successful acquisition of the Hazel Bird Nature Reserve - 117 hectares of land in Hamilton Township in Northumberland County, Ontario. This project was secured in part with funding from Environment Canada's Natural Areas Conservation Program.

"The Rice Lake Plains contain some of the largest examples of prairies and savannahs in Ontario. With this investment, we are taking action to protect and conserve our ecosystems and sensitive species for present and future generations," said Minister Kent.

The easternmost segment of the Oak Ridges Moraine is the area south of Rice Lake known as the Rice Lake Plains. Historically, the Rice Lake Plains were dominated by prairie and savannas covering at least 17,200 hectares. In 1992, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources commissioned a survey of the tallgrass prairies of southern Ontario and this survey identified approximately 2,100 hectares of tallgrass communities remaining in this area. That is only about 12 percent of the original extent. The acquired property contains priority Black Oak savannah communities and documented habitat for Eastern Hog-nosed Snake and grassland birds. An assessment of birds in the Rice Lake Plains identified the property as significant for grassland birds, including the Whip-poor-will. It also is the site of one of the last documented populations of Wild Lupine (the primary food for Karner Blue butterfly) in the Rice Lake Plains, and will become a restoration area for this species.

"This project is possible through the incredible partnership with the Government of Canada and the generosity of private partners," said James Duncan, Ontario Regional Vice President of the Nature Conservancy of Canada. "Together we are building a natural legacy that will be enjoyed by our children and grandchildren."

The Government of Canada's $225-million Natural Areas Conservation Program is an important on-the-ground initiative that takes real action to preserve Canada's environment and conserve its precious natural heritage for present and future generations. It is through the ongoing contribution from all donors that we can ensure the protection of natural areas in Canada. As of March 2011, the Natural Areas Conservation Program has protected 160,796 hectares of habitat, which includes habitat for 101 species at risk.

For more information and to view a backgrounder on this announcement, please visit the Web site of Environment Canada at

SOURCE Environment Canada

For further information:

Adam Sweet
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of the Environment
Media Relations
Environment Canada
Environment Canada's Twitter page:
Environment Canada's Facebook page:

(Également offert en français) 



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