Great Lakes
South Shore Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada – David Coulson, NCC photo

Plans under way to secure and protect more of County’s south shore from wind power development

Prince Edward County, Ontario - Following the successful defence of the south shore of Prince Edward County from the impacts of industrial wind turbines, several organizations have been collaborating to secure and protect some of the last undeveloped natural areas along Lake Ontario’s northern shoreline.

The South Shore Joint Initiative (SSJI) group is launching another ambitious project to engage both the federal and provincial governments to protect the area as part of Canada’s commitment to meeting its United Nations target 1 goals.

“Some parts of the south shore of Prince Edward County are potentially suffering from too much inappropriate use by both locals and tourists,” said John Hirsch, SSJI president. “As well, there is continuing concern that Crown lands and waters can be made available for industrialization. These activities would imperil the rich diversity of life that need these rare habitats.”

The SSJI was formed in 2018 by local environmentalists with an aim to protect the sensitive area and offshore waters from threats to habitats and wildlife populations and promote sustainable use for things like fishing, hunting, boating and hiking.

Tuesday, members joined representatives from Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) to unveil a plaque honouring the family and heritage value of the 76-acre Hudgins-Rose property and historic log house, that was purchased with the help of the Prince Edward Hastings Land Trust (HPELT), putting both into long term protection

“It is exciting that the NCC is in negotiation to purchase an additional 135 acre parcel of land near the Crown land at Ostrander Point,” said Dick Bird, of the HPELT. “According to Mark Stabb of NCC, they are interested in preserving the south shore because it represents some of the last undeveloped natural areas along Lake Ontario’s northern shoreline.”

The landowners have given NCC the opportunity to purchase the property before they put it on the open market. NCC must raise $1.2 million by fall 2019.

Stabb said less than a third of the county’s coastal wetlands have been lost, compared to as much as three-quarters of that land in other parts of southern Ontario. These land purchases will add to the large tracts of Crown land managed by MNRF.

With no co-ordinated plan in place to protect the Crown land, the SSJI is focusing on long-term planning and co-ordination of activities. The group obtained written support from both federal and provincial governments and a motion of support from Prince Edward County council.

Following, the SSJI submitted a funding proposal to the Canada Nature Fund Target 1 Challenge Component to protect the Crown lands and near shore waters. The program provides funding to organizations willing to facilitate the creation of protected areas to help meet Canada’s Target 1 threshold of 17 per cent of land and water being protected.

The South Shore fulfills all five of the criteria for designation as a National Wildlife Area. A decision is expected by late June on this application.

The Gosling foundation has provided initial funding allowing the project to move forward regardless of federal support.

The first priority is to negotiate protection from industrialization on the Crown lands, and to work with the provincial government to develop a management and engagement strategy.

“There were many ideas put forward regarding how to manage public use in the area in a sustainable way,” said SSJI member Les Stanfield. “Volunteers will be following up on these suggestions over the following months and years.

Stanfield is an aquatic ecologist who studies the factors that influence watershed ecohealth.

“Identified as of paramount importance is engagement with land owners and organizations across the county who have a vested interest in the south shore and surrounding areas,” said Stanfield. “We are just getting started on this important and long-term project. We believe it is critical to protect the last remaining extensive area of nearly pristine shoreline on Lake Ontario for future generations.”

For more information, or to help out or join the SSJI, visit https://ssji.ca/.

To donate to help NCC’s 135 acre land purchase, visit http://www.natureconservancy.ca/en/where-we-work/ontario/featured-projects/Ostrander-Point.html

See the County Line article . . .