Protecting and restoring habitat and natural heritage: Bay of Quinte

Newly-hatched ospreys.

Photo: Sarah Midlane-Jones, Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan.  

2012-2013 Funding: $620,000, including $224,500 provided by the Great Lakes Sustainability Fund

Other Project Contributors: Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan Office; the Lower Trent Conservation Authority; the Quinte Conservation Association; the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority; shoreline landowners; Enbridge; local municipalities; the Canadian Wildlife Service; Fisheries and Oceans Canada; the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources; Ducks Unlimited Canada; and Bird Studies Canada.

Through live video streaming, hundreds of people were able to follow the lives of three newly-hatched ospreys growing up on the shores of the Bay of Quinte - symbols of a wide-ranging project supported by the Great Lakes Sustainability Fund designed to address the loss of fish and wildlife habitat around the bay.

The Project brought together three related components - monitoring, habitat enhancement and natural heritage - under the Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan. The bay is a narrow inlet, about 100 km in length, on the north shore of Lake Ontario near the eastern outlet of the lake. Among the environmental challenges in the Area of Concern is the loss of fish and wildlife habitat, particularly wetlands, due to shoreline development.

The osprey monitoring involved installing nesting platforms, tracking the number of nests and activity within those nests and providing the live video of an active nest. In addition, more than 60 community volunteers became “citizen scientists” for the Project, helping to monitor five coastal wetlands along the shoreline of the bay and listening and watching for wetland birds and amphibians. So far, this monitoring suggests that the Bay of Quinte’s wetlands are healthy and productive habitat for a large variety of fish and wildlife.

Under its habitat enhancement component, the Project provides funding for environmental improvements to owners of property alongside watercourses and wetlands that drain into the bay. In 2012, the Project supported five livestock fencing projects, the creation of three plant buffer zones, two shoreline naturalization projects, and two well projects. Project partners also started a habitat improvement project in Big Island Marsh, to address issues raised by the control of water levels in Lake Ontario and the resulting establishment of extensive stands of cattails at the expense of other plant community types. Channels were excavated through the cattails, providing increased open water. Follow-up monitoring found that the channels now are supporting numerous fish and wildlife species, including at least two species at risk - the Blandings Turtle and the American Eel.

Finally, the Project’s natural heritage component is focusing on working with local municipalities. The goal is to encourage municipalities to adopt the Remedial Action Plan’s Natural Heritage Strategy into their local official development plans.

For more information on the Bay of Quinte Area of Concern, please visit: Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan.

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