Mississippi Lake National Wildlife Area
Welcome to Mississippi Lake National Wildlife Area.
Mississippi Lake National Wildlife Area trails, washrooms, boat launch and parking lots are open to the public for day-use only. Please note that while Environment and Climate Change Canada establishes trails and infrastructure to support visitor access and use of selected National Wildlife Areas, staff are not always on-site for management of public safety.
Please respect the environment and leave no trace.
Mississippi Lake National Wildlife Area (NWA) covers an area of 307 hectares (ha) located within the wetlands of McEwen Bay, in Ontario, where water flows in from the Mississippi River.
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 1977 that Mississippi Lake became an 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:
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
Find more information on Mississippi Lake NWA in the summary table below.
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 wildlife 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 other activities are prohibited in all NWAs. However, some activities may be authorized through Schedule I.1 of the Wildlife Area Regulations or the issuance of permits as long as they are consistent with the management plan goals for the NWA. For more information, consult the NWA 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. Any authorized activities are listed in Schedule I.1 of the Wildlife Area Regulations; signage is also posted at access points.
Authorized activities listed in Schedule I.1 of the Wildlife Area Regulations for Mississippi Lake NWA, include:
- wildlife viewing in designated areas
- hiking in designated areas
- participation in a group meal or group event involving 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 referred to item 6, when boating is permitted solely on McIntyre Creek in order to access Mississippi Lake
- cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on designated trails
- sport fishing, 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
- activities referred to in items 1, 2, 4 and 8 on designated roads and in designated parking areas from sunset to sunrise, in addition to during the period referred to in subsection 3.1(3)
- public parking lot
- designated hiking trail
- public boat launch
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
This map shows an area in eastern Ontario. The boundaries of the Mississippi Lake National Wildife Area 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. Permanent water, roads and highways are all indicated on the map. A small inset national map situates the NWA’ location in Canada.
This map is for illustrative purposes only and should not be used to define legal boundaries.
|Protected Area designation||National Wildlife Area|
|Latitude/Longitude||45°03’ North / -76°14’ West|
|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)||Vascular Plants:
|Main habitat type||
|Main threats and challenges||
|Management agency||Environment and Climate Change Canada (Canadian Wildlife Service)|
|Public access and usage||Authorized activities listed in Schedule I.1 of the Wildlife Area Regulations for Mississippi Lake NWA, include:
Note: If there is a discrepancy between the information presented on this web page, any notice posted at the NWA site and the law, the law prevails, as it is the legal instrument authorizing the activity.
Environment and Climate Change Canada - Ontario Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas directorate
4905 Dufferin Street
Toll-free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
- Canada Wildlife Act
- Wildlife Area Regulations
- Mississippi Lake NWA management plan
- Mississippi Lake NWA pamphlet
- Mississippi Lake NWA on Google maps (Please note that the Google map is a complementary source of information and does not represent the official map or site name).
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