Nature Conservancy of Canada hopes to buy Vidal Bay property

VIDAL BAY – The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is hoping that support from donors will enable it to purchase the Vidal Bay Forest property.

“Yes, we are hoping to purchase the property,” confirmed Nicole Senyi of the NCC on Monday. “There is a pretty short timeline to purchase the property; they are hoping to close by the end of February.”

“We are definitely interested,” continued Ms. Senyi, who went on to explain, “it’s an amazing property on Manitoulin Island and very important ecologically. Especially when you add it to the other (Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Mnidoo Mnising Provincial park; a property NCC and its partners were instrument in conserving in the 1990s).”

The Vidal Bay property features dozens of kilometres of shoreline

Ms. Senyi noted, “we have a few interested donors that are looking to make pledges toward the purchase.”

An NCC release notes, “located in Lake Huron, the internationally significant Manitoulin Island is the largest freshwater island in the world. It supports some of the highest quality alvar habitat on the planet, interspersed within sand plain forests, wetlands, sand dunes, shoreline and the Niagara Escarpment. At the northern edge of southern Ontario, Manitoulin is home to wide ranging mammals, including black bear and gray wolf, and provides an important stopover area for migratory birds.”

“The NCC has an amazing opportunity to acquire 7,608 hectares (18,800 acres) on Manitoulin Island at Vidal Bay. When combined with nearby and adjacent conservation lands that NCC has already conserved, this will become a protected area complex of 250 square kilometres (24,860 hectares/61,435 acres), the largest of its kind south of the Canadian shield in Ontario. It will conserve an astonishing 86 kilometers of Great Lakes shoreline, more than twice what is currently protected at Bruce Peninsula National Park,” the release continues.

“The Vidal Bay forests and shoreline property features coastal cliffs, undeveloped Lake Huron shoreline, inland lakes and wetlands, intact forests and alvars. According to the International Alvar Conservation Initiative, the alvars of Western Manitoulin are the best remaining examples of this type of globally rare habitat in North America, where the limestone pavements and thin soils set the stage for a unique assemblage of rare and endemic plant species.”

“Protecting large swaths of high-quality habitat is essential for the ongoing survival of the millions of migratory birds we enjoy passing through southern Ontario every spring and fall. The Vidal Bay property supports a wide range of birds, including warblers, vireos and scarlet tanagers. The wetlands and shoreline are important habitat for breeding and migrating waterfowl, including ducks, loons and grebes. With its protection, we will be able to continue to enjoy these birds into the future.”

The release adds, “NCC has a small window in which to protect this special place. We must raise $16,000,000 by the end of the winter to secure and steward this vast coastal wilderness.”

Ms. Senyi added if NCC purchases the Vidal Bay property, “yes we are very interested in working with the community of Manitoulin Island, both non-First Nation and First Nation people and communities, when looking at what we are going to do with the property.”