6 ways to be the best park neighbour

Provincial parks are not islands.

Well, some of them are. What we mean is: there is no invisible wall around parks limiting their relationships with the outside world.

Even if you never visit a park, you benefit from the pollinator diversity they protect, the CO2 they sequester in wood, roots, and peat, and the clean water filtered by protected wetlands.

Plants, animals, fungi, microbes, water, and air move in and out of protected spaces, with intimate connections on both local and global levels.

In the same way, things that happen outside of park boundaries affect the ecosystems within them. What you do at home, work, or play can impact our parks.

Whether you live next door to a park or 100 km away, here are six ways your everyday actions can help keep parks and nature reserves healthy and biodiverse:

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The very hungry caterpillars

Note: this blog is about the non-native, highly invasive moth species Lymantria dispar dispar, which we have previously referred to as the Gypsy Moth or by the acronym LDD. In this article, we will refer to the moth using its new common name, Spongy Moth.

If you’ve seen an Ontario oak tree recently, you’ve likely been introduced to the invasive Spongy Moth (Lymantria dispar dispar).

Spongy Moth caterpillars were first introduced to North America in the late 1860s and are voracious eaters! Their favourite cuisine is oak leaves, but in particularly bad outbreak years — like this one — they can spread to many other tree species.

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Why is that a rule?

Excessive noise. Transporting firewood. Have you ever wondered why certain rules exist?

Thought, research, and science go into the laws and policies that cover provincial parks and conservation reserves. And it helps to understand the rationale.

Today, we’re sharing the logic behind a few of the rules our visitors ask us about most frequently:

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A wriggling invasion

We’d like to highlight one of the greatest threats to Ontario’s natural soil systems – earthworms!

Yes, you read that correctly. Many of us have a hard time picturing earthworms as a destructive force. After all, who hasn’t been told that they’re natural composters, food for cheerfully bopping robins in the spring, and great recyclers in our gardens?

But there’s one important fact about earthworms that most people aren’t aware of: they’re not supposed to be here.

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Changing landscapes at Killbear Provincial Park

Today’s post comes from Isabelle Moy, a Discovery naturalist at Killbear Provincial Park

As many faithful Killbear campers will remember, seven years ago our camping landscape changed dramatically with the felling of many American Beech trees due to Beech Bark Disease.

Unfortunately, Killbear has again been infested by an invasive species.

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EDDMapS: report your invasive species sightings

Today’s post comes from our friends at the Invasive Species Centre.

Outdoor adventurers: we need your help. Invasive species are infiltrating our parks and protected areas, but if we don’t know where they are, it’s tough to stop their spread.

Become an Invasive Species Fighter by reporting any suspected sightings of invasive species!

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Invasive Species Fighters: keep our lakes great

Today’s post comes from our friends at the Invasive Species Centre.

Our Great Lakes are Great with a capital “G,” and we want to keep them that way.

Ontario Parks offer pristine outdoor experiences with nearly two dozen provincial parks situated on the Great Lakes.

Did you know that invasive carps are not established in the Great Lakes, but threaten almost all aspects of our cherished lakes? Learn more about these fishes and what you can do to keep them out.

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The life of a resource steward

Today’s post comes from Rebecca Rogge, a travelling resource steward for the Northeast Zone.

I first started working for the Northeast Zone Resource Steward Program back in 2011. It seems like a lifetime ago.

At the time, it was a relatively new job in Ontario Parks. The program had only been around for a few years, and few of us existed.

Several parks were created in 1999, the majority of which were “non-operating” provincial parks. They generally do not have facilities or dedicated staff. Many protect recreational waterways and nature reserves protect rare flora, fauna and geological landscapes.

This is where we, the resource stewards, spend most of our time. In these wonderfully beautiful and diverse places.

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Responsible anglers are nature’s superheroes

Today’s post comes from our friends at the Invasive Species Centre.

Fishing can be enjoyed in every season, and this means that we can keep the health of our lakes and waterways top-of-mind year-round.

In Ontario, the Fishing Regulations control live bait to prevent the spread of infectious fish diseases (like viral hemorrhagic septicemia), unwanted fish species, and invasive species.

Let’s buff up on our bait facts to help protect our lakes and become invasive species fighters. Your training begins now.

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Planning to bring your own firewood to the park?

A single piece of firewood can destroy millions of trees.

Throwing a few pieces of firewood into the trunk of the car before a camping trip might seem like a good way to plan ahead, but those logs could destroy a forest.
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