Mississippi Lake National Wildlife Area

Notice

Mississippi Lake National Wildlife Area is open to the public for day-use only. While most trails will be opened from June 1st, some trails and visitor facilities may remain closed until such time that they can be safely re-opened.

Please respect social distancing measures. Respect the environment and leave no trace.

Remember, you are responsible for your own safety.

We hope to provide visitors with additional access to services and facilities in the near future as conditions allow, and subject to the direction from federal and provincial health authorities.

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:

  • hiking on designated trail,
  • skiing and snowshoeing, in season, where indicated,
  • picnicking and wildlife viewing in designated areas
  • Recreational boating (personal watercraft) and sport fishing (no lead sinkers) from December 16th through September 14th, and are subject to federal and provincial regulations.

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:

  • hiking on designated trails,
  • skiing and Snowshoeing, in season, on designated trails,
  • picnicking and wildlife viewing in the designated area.
  • recreational boating (personal watercraft) and sport fishing (no lead sinkers) from December 16th through September 14th, and are subject to federal and provincial regulations.

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.

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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