Mississippi Lake National Wildlife Area

Notice

Environment and Climate Change Canada is committed to protecting the health and safety of Canadians, visitors and employees. In order to support Government-wide efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19, we are temporarily closing Mississippi Lake National Wildlife Area until further notice.

This action is intended to reduce visits and respects the advice of public health experts to Canadians to stay home and avoid public gatherings.

Visitor facilities, washrooms, parking facilities and associated services in Mississippi Lake National Wildlife Are are closed until further notice. Trail maintenance is also suspended.

Anyone considering a visit to Mississippi Lake National Wildlife Area should cancel their plans.

For more information, please consult our Q&A page.

Mississippi Lake National Wildlife Area (NWA) covers an area of 307 hectares (ha) located within the wetlands of McEwen Bay, where water flows in from the Mississippi River.

Description

The Mississippi River runs northeast from the Kawartha Lakes into the Ottawa River near Arnprior, Ontario. The small bay is one of the few natural areas left on the Mississippi Lake shoreline. Muddy silt and debris support rich stands of wild rice, cattail and other plants, well sheltered by a peninsula and island at the mouth of the bay. The bay that collects the river silt provides lush stands of aquatic plants that feed thousands of migrating ducks each autumn. The Mississippi Lake NWA was first established as a Migratory Bird Sanctuary in 1959 to protect staging waterfowl. It was not until 1971 that Mississippi Lake became an NWA.

Landscape view of Mississippi Lake
Mississippi Lake NWA

The west side of the bay is a recovering agricultural field. The open field, along with the wild rice, attracts thousands of grazing waterfowl every fall. Along the rest of the shoreline, aquatic plants give way to flooded scrub thickets. Rising up to the rolling terrain of the uplands are many types of wooded habitats. From woody swamps to hardwood forest dotted with limestone outcrops. The thousands of migrating waterfowl that use the lake during migration for staging (resting and feeding) take refuge in McEwen Bay.

Many animals take advantage of the plentiful habitats on the property, such as:

  • mammals
  • birds
  • reptiles
  • amphibians
  • invertebrates
Image of a Ring-necked duck floating on water
Ring-necked duck

From spring through autumn, a large number of songbirds nest in the area or stop over during migration. In spring and summer, the marshes provide some of the best habitat for bullfrogs in the region. The bay is also an important fish nursery, the vegetation being used for spawning and shielding young fish.

Several endangered or threatened species, including the Monarch Butterfly (a species of special concern) are present within the NWA. The NWA also provides habitat to these watch-list or listed species:

  • butternut tree
  • barn swallow
  • whip-poor-will

More information on Mississippi Lake NWA is provided in the summary table below.

Management

Under the Canada Wildlife Act, NWAs are protected and managed in accordance with the Wildlife Area Regulations. The primary purpose of NWAs is to protect and conserve wildlife and their habitat. For this purpose and according to the legislation, all activities in a NWA that could interfere with the conservation of wildlife can be prohibited. Consequently, most NWAs are not accessible to the public and all activities are prohibited. However, some activities may be authorized through public notice or the issuance of permits as long as they are consistent with the management plan goals for the NWA. For more information, consult the NWAs Management and Activities section.

Access to Mississippi Lake NWA is seasonally restricted and activities may be permitted in accordance with the conservation objectives of the NWA management plan. Public notices listing the authorized activities are posted at access points. Access is permitted for day use only at the entrance on Drummond Concession 9A.

Activities allowed include:

  • wildlife viewing in designated area
  • hiking in designated areas
  • operating a vehicle, other than a snowmobile or an all-terrain vehicle, on designated roads and in designated parking areas
  • cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, in season, on designated trails
  • participation in a group mean or a group event of 15 or more people in designated areas
  • swimming from the boat launch area on McIntyre Creek during the period beginning on May 15 in any year and ending on September 15 in the same year
  • boat launching and boat landing at the boat launch area on McIntyre Creek, except during the period beginning on September 15 in any year and ending on December 15 in the same year, when boat launching and boat landing are permitted solely in order to access Mississippi Lake.
  • motorized and non-motorized boating, except during the period beginning on September 15 in any year and ending on December 15 in the same year, during which boating is permitted solely on McIntyre Creek in order to access Mississippi Lake.
  • sport fishing, under and in accordance with any applicable federal permit and any authorization required by the laws of Ontario for sport fishing in that province from the day in any year on which McEwen Bay is free of ice to September 15 of the same year

Facilities include:

  • public parking lot
  • designated hiking trail
  • public boat launch
  • washroom

Access to other parts of the NWA is restricted and requires a permit. All of these activities are prohibited from September 15th to December 15th when the only public access is via the boat launch on McIntyre Creek, to access Mississippi Lake.

More information on access and permitting for Mississippi Lake NWA can be obtained by contacting the Environment and Climate Change Canada regional office.

Map of the area

Map of Mississippi Lake NWA
Map of Mississippi Lake NWA
Long description

Map showing an area in eastern Ontario. The boundaries of the Mississippi Lake NWA and Mississippi Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary are indicated. The NWA covers McEwen Bay, west of Mississippi Lake, and extends inland as well as out over a portion of the Mississippi River. The migratory bird sanctuary overlaps in part with the wildlife area, extending further into Mississippi Lake. The scale on the map is in kilometers (km). Permanent water, roads and highways are all indicated on the map. A small inset national map situates the NWA in Canada.

This map is for illustrative purposes only and should not be used to define legal boundaries.

Summary table

Summary table
Category Information
Protected Area designation NWA
Province/Territory Ontario
Latitude/Longitude 45°03’ North / -76°14’ West
Size 307 ha
Reason for creation of the protected area Waterfowl staging area during migration.
Date created (Gazetted) 1977 – Legal Description
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management Category Habitat/Species Management Area – (IV)
Additional designation Part of Mississippi Lake MBS
Keystone or flagship species
Listed Species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA)
Main habitat type
  • Wetland
Invasive species
  • frog-bit
  • flowering sedge
  • alder
Additional links Birds:
Main threats and challenges
  • Unauthorized public use
  • Exotic/invasive species
  • Sedimentation
  • Contamination from sources upstream of the NWA
Management agency Environment and Climate Change Canada (Canadian Wildlife Service)
Public access and usage Activities allowed include:
  • wildlife viewing in designated areas
  • hiking in designated areas
  • participation in a group meal or a group event of 15 or more people in designated areas
  • operating a vehicle, other than a snowmobile or an all-terrain vehicle, on designated roads and in designated parking areas
  • swimming from the boat launch area on McIntyre Creek during the period beginning on May 15 in any year and ending on September 15 in the same year
  • boat launching and boat landing at the boat launch area on McIntyre Creek, except during the period beginning on September 15 in any year and ending on December 15 in the same year, when boat launching and boat landing are permitted solely in order to access Mississippi Lake
  • motorized and non-motorized boating, except during the period beginning on September 15 in any year and ending on December 15 in the same year , during which boating is permitted solely on McIntyre Creek in order to access Mississippi Lake
  • cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on designated trails
  • sport fishing, under and in accordance with any applicable federal permit and any authorization required by the laws of Ontario for sport fishing in that province from the day in any year on which McEwen Bay is free of ice to September 15 of the same year

Note: If there is a discrepancy between the information presented on this web page and any notice posted at the NWA site, the notice prevails as it is the legal instrument authorizing the activity.

Contact us

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Ontario Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas directorate
4905 Dufferin Street
Toronto ON M3H 5T4

Toll-free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
Email: ec.enviroinfo.ec@canada.ca

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