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Partners celebrate Big Trout Bay conservation project

Jun 19, 2017 08:30AM ● Published by Editor

The Nature Conservancy of Canada is celebrating the cross-border partnership that led to the purchase of the last privately owned, undeveloped bay between Duluth, Minn., and Thunder Bay.

Known as Big Trout Bay, the property is located just minutes from the international border and 45 minutes from Thunder Bay, on the shores of Lake Superior.

Its densely forested land is important to several native species, including bald eagle and peregrine falcon, which are assessed as special concern by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. The 10-square-kilometre (2,517-acre) property is composed mostly of coastal boreal forest and includes 21 kilometres of undeveloped shoreline that includes stretches of open bedrock and cobble beach

Nearly half of Canada’s bird species rely on boreal habitat like Big Trout Bay to complete their life cycle, and many of these species migrate throughout the Americas. Big Trout Bay’s cliff outcrop is also an important breeding area for the peregrine falcon.

The conservation of this spectacular property would not have been possible without the support of many partners, on both sides of the border. This project was generously supported by funding from the Government of Canada through the Natural Areas Conservation Program, and with the generous partnership of the JA Woollam Foundation, the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, the Bobolink Foundation, the Rogers Foundation, The Nature Conservancy‘s Wisconsin and Minnesota programs, The Conservation Fund, Green Leaf Advisors and many individual donors in both the United States and Canada.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada is in the process of conducting detailed biological studies of the property to inform its management plan for the site. The Royal Ontario Museum, Natural Heritage Information Centre, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and Nature Conservancy of Canada have partnered to conduct an intense scientific bioblitz of the Big Trout Bay property. The bioblitz will bring together as many as 30 scientists and skilled naturalists with taxonomic expertise in a range of animal, plant and fungal groups to systematically survey the property. The information gathered from this study will help Nature Conservancy of Canada better manage and steward this biologically rich natural area for the future, and will help inform where and what kind of trails can be made available to the public at the site.

“This is a massive international undertaking, but when faced with the potential loss of habitat and wildlife on the largest freshwater lake in the world, thinking big is essential. Most importantly, this project gives us hope that the landscapes we love today will be here for others to enjoy tomorrow. It’s an extraordinary opportunity to make substantive and tangible progress on our overall goal of protecting Lake Superior’s North Shore,” said James Duncan, Nature Conservancy of Canada vice-president, Ontario Region.

The Conservation Fund provided bridge financing as well as transactional and fundraising assistance to Nature Conservancy of Canada via its Great Lakes Revolving Fund.

“Lake Superior’s Big Trout Bay, McKellar Point and Pine Point represent the last unsecured Great Lakes wilderness on the continent - truly a global gem. After more than 15 years of work personally on this project, I understand the importance of preserving the natural view that the Voyageurs saw and, equally as important, the ecosystems that have sustained First Nations for generations,” said Tom Duffus, Midwest vice-president for The Conservation Fund.

Since 1962, Nature Conservancy of Canada and its partners have helped protect more than 11,000 square kilometres (2.8 million acres), coast to coast with more than 740 square kilometres (184,000 acres) in Ontario.

The Government of Canada’s Natural Areas Conservation Program is a unique public-private partnership led by the Nature Conservancy of Canada. To date, $277.5 million has been invested in the Natural Areas Conservation Program by the Government of Canada to secure our natural heritage. Additionally, more than $500 million in matching contributions has been raised by Nature Conservancy of Canada and its partners.

- Submitted by Nature Conservancy of Canada

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