Superior Islands: Ontario's Largest Conservation Project Will Protect 4,700 acres

wilson island

Credit: TNC/John Andersen

The Wilson Island group spans 4,700 acres in Lake Superior. It's a place where peregrine falcons and bald eagles nest in high cliffs, and rare plants like Mountain Fir-moss and Northern Woodsia fern are supported by rare coastal wetlands and forests.

Wouldn't at least some of the eight islands make a great place for summer homes for big city folks? Don't worry, the islands have just been protected by The Nature Conservancy in the United States and its counterpart in Canada, in the largest conservation project (dollar-wise) that's ever been completed in Ontario.The Wilson Island group is located near Rossport, Ontario, in Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes. The $7.4 million initiative by the conservancy groups will acquire land from private owners and protect undeveloped shorelines in the heart of a recently established Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area --- the largest protected freshwater area on the planet.

The project reportedly has the support of the Pays Plat First Nation. Officials with The Nature Conservancy of Canada say they'll work with the island inhabitants to conduct biological and cultural inventories of the islands. The conservancy wants to ensure that long-standing aboriginal traditions --- and the globally significant ecosystem that exists in the area --- will be maintained for generations to come.

Why is this important?

"Protecting rare landscapes and species across Ontario is vital to ensure we conserve the province's biodiversity and pass on a healthy environment to future generations," said Ontario Natural Resources Minister Donna Cansfield. "The Wilson Islands project has brought together partners on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border to secure an important part of our natural heritage."

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