Our wetlands in Ontario are a precious resource, providing valuable ecological services such as water filtration, flood prevention, and carbon sequestration. In the Highlands Corridor, 13,420 hectares of wetland have yet to be protected, making them vulnerable to development and infill.
Wetlands also provide habitat for a wealth of species including 20% of Ontario’s species at risk, one such species being the Blanding’s Turtle. With pressures such as habitat loss, and road mortality adding up, this turtle’s future is uncertain. That is why our efforts to protect its wetland habitat are critical.
Thankfully Blanding’s Turtles are protected under the Species at Risk Act. By documenting occurrences of these turtles and their habitat we can gain legal protection for these wetlands and prevent their destruction from human hands.
This year we secured a Habitat Stewardship Program grant from Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) to assess Blanding’s Turtle habitat in the Marigold and South Fortescue wetland complexes in the Highlands Corridor.
We’ve since contracted our partner Glenside Ecological Services Ltd to develop a “general habitat description”. This document maps the land surrounding the Blanding’s Turtle’s nesting sites and associated wetlands in accordance with OMNRF guidelines. We’ve also taken this time to investigate and track any other species of interest including frogs, songbirds, dragonflies, butterflies, and plants.
Marigold Wetland Complex Findings So Far
738 Hectares of wetland assessed
26 Blanding's Turtle observations
163 Total observations of species of interest
16 Different species at risk observed
14 Different provincially or locally rare species observed
Our first exciting discovery was 5 new populations of the provincially declining Western Chorus Frog in the Marigold wetland complex. We have been monitoring this species closely over the last few years across the county.
South Fortescue Complex Findings So Far
419 Hectares of wetland assessed
7 Blanding's Turtle observations
104 Total observations of species of interest
15 Different species at risk observed
3 Different provincially or locally rare species observed
Rare species alert! Say "hi" to the West Virginia White. Although common in the US, sightings of this butterfly species are especially rare in Ontario. This observation made by partner biologist Ed Poropat, is the first one ever in Haliburton county.
How will this work be used?
This document will guide future Land Trust planning decisions relating to land acquisition and landowner partnership strategies.
We will also provide the full dataset to the County of Haliburton to aid their future planning decisions in the Highlands Corridor.
Under the species at risk act, this document can then be used to protect these wetlands from degradation from activities such as wetland draining, infilling, or major shoreline alteration.
How you can help us protect the land you love
By donating to the Haliburton Land Trust, you can help fund future research projects like this, as well as ecological restoration, and invasive species removal, and even outright land acquisition. So join us and help protect the beauty of Haliburton Highlands for future generations.
Special thank you to our partners