Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

The Municipality of Mississippi Mills is holding a workshop on March 1st,  to share the Natural Heritage Plan for the municipality and to obtain public input to the plan. Details below and at the town website at

For further information about the Natural Heritage System concept and MVFN’s role, under the leadership of Dr. Tineke Kuiper, in development of a plan for Mississippi Mills, see this description in an article by Dr. Kuiper:


Wednesday, March 1, 2017 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Almonte Old Town Hall, 14 Bridge Street, Almonte, ON

ALL MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC are invited to attend a workshop to review and comment on the Municipality of Mississippi Mills Natural Heritage Plan Workshop.

THIS WORKSHOP is an opportunity to review the preliminary information and material associated with the Natural Heritage Plan, as well as a chance to discuss and comment on the Natural Heritage Plan.  Please join us in order to provide your insight.

THE WORKSHOP will be held on:  Wednesday, March 1, 2017 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Almonte Old Town Hall, 14 Bridge Street, Almonte, ON.

If you require additional information, please contact the Municipal Planner, Stephen Stirling, at (613) 256-2064 ext.259.

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NOTE: Featured photo with this post is of the wildflower Hairy Beardtongue (Penstemon hirsutus). photo by Ken Allison

One of the most effective ways you can help protect natural areas is to support municipal government when they consider policy changes to enhance protection of natural areas or restrict development in these areas.

If you live in the Town of Mississippi Mills, you have that chance Tuesday, May 5, 2015. Council is set to consider public opinion on their proposed rezoning of  much of Burnt Lands Alvar as an environmental protection zone. This is a good thing! If you agree, then attend the public meeting in support of the rezoning (or write to tell Council that you support this rezoning. Details for submitting comments are found below and on the Public Meeting Notice). Even if you do not intend to speak, attendance at the meeting would afford you the opportunity to hand deliver your written views or to simply be an observer and register your name to be informed of the Council decision, which will be made at a later date. If you cannot attend, you may wish to make your opinion known to the town by submitting your written comment, as mentioned.

When: May 5, 2015 at 6:30 pm.

Where: Town of Mississippi Mills Council Chambers, 3131 Old Perth Road, Almonte, Ontario.


  • THE PURPOSE AND INTENT of the Official Plan and Zoning By-law Amendments are to provide environmental protection for the Burnt Land ANSI from intensive rural development by amending rural development policies in the Community Official Plan and placing the lands within the Burnt Lands ANSI within an Environmental Protection (EP) Zone.
  • ANY PERSON may attend the public meeting and/or make written or verbal representation either in support of or in opposition to the proposed Official Plan Amendment and the Zoning By-law Amendment. Written submissions regarding the proposed amendments are to be filed with the Town Clerk at the Town of Mississippi Mills Municipal Office, 3131 Old Perth Road, R.R. #2, P.O. Box 400, Almonte, Ontario, K0A 1A0.

Further information about the Burnt Lands Alvar may be found elsewhere on our website; as well as an opportunity to donate to our Burnt Lands Alvar Campaign.

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Press Release

January 9, 2015




DONATE NOW to Save the Burnt Lands Alvar ANSI

The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) have recently launched an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board in order to prevent development that would destroy a portion of the Burnt Lands Alvar, a provincially significant Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI), one of several natural treasures in Lanark County.

A developer was given provisional approval on November 10, 2014 by the Lanark County Land Division Committee to build a cluster lot housing development between Ramsay Concession 12 and Golden Line Road, south of March Road. This development would violate provincial and municipal regulations for this ANSI by degrading the ANSI landscape and its ecological functions, and it could set a precedent for further development in the Burnt Lands.

Alvars, which date back to about 10,000 years ago, support distinctive flora and fauna, and are found in very few places – parts of Ontario and the U.S. Great Lakes Region, and in a few regions in Sweden and Estonia. The Burnt Lands Alvar is considered the fourth best example in all of North America.

These natural features are characterized by limestone plains with thin or no soil. Often flooded in the spring and affected by drought in midsummer, they are home to a very hardy group of flora and fauna that have adapted to the harsh conditions of the alvar.

The Burnt Lands Alvar ANSI is located east of Almonte, straddling Ramsay Ward and the City of Ottawa, on either side of the March Road.  It is an outstanding example of alvar habitat – combining alvar pavement, alvar grasslands, alvar shrub lands, treed alvar and wetlands. Besides its unique flora, the alvar also supports 82 breeding bird species, 48 butterfly species, 98 species of owlet moths, globally rare species of land snail, globally rare invertebrates, and a kind of carabid beetle found nowhere else in the world. Although the alvar is not a prairie, it hosts many prairie species such as prairie sawflies and a thriving population of wingless prairie leafhoppers.

Conserving biodiversity is essential for Ontario’s long-term prosperity and environmental health. The treasures of our natural world need to be preserved for future generations. The cluster lot development in the ANSI would cause widespread disturbance and degrade flora and fauna, including the habitat of endangered species and threatened species. It would also compromise connectivity to adjacent alvar properties and introduce many non-native species.

The Provincial Policy Statement, the Lanark County Official Plan and the Mississippi Mills Official Plan all require protection of the habitat of endangered species and threatened species. Furthermore, they require that there shall be no negative impact on the ANSI or its ecological functions, or on adjacent lands.

Part of the Burnt Lands Alvar ANSI is private land, and many private landowners cherish their land and provide good stewardship; part is a Nature Reserve Class Provincial Park; and part is owned by the City of Ottawa.

In addition to submitting an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board to halt this development, the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists have started a campaign to publicize the issue and raise funds for the appeal process.  The campaign begins with a short presentation by Ken Allison, past president of both MVFN and the Ottawa Field-Naturalist’s Club,  on January 15 at 7:30 p.m. at the United Church Hall, 106 Elgin Street, Almonte, before the featured lecture.

The public can support the campaign through the DONATE NOW button on the MVFN website or by contacting Theresa Peluso at .


DONATE NOW to Save the Burnt Lands Alvar ANSI

Presentation by Ken Allison – What is an Alvar? Burnt Lands Alvar: A rare ecosytem of execptional quality



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To our sister Ontario Nature Naturalists:

The Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN) is appealing the Ostrander Point Crown Land wind project at the highest Court in Ontario. The hearing will occur at Osgoode Hall Dec 8-9.  Ostrander Point Crown Land is situated in an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) – a refuge for migrating birds, bats and butterflies – it contains provincially significant wetlands, globally imperilled Alvar habitat and is the home and breeding ground of several avian, reptilian and amphibian species at risk, such as the Blanding’s turtle.

h_Crowley-Blanding's-Turtlephoto by Joe Crowley; source Ontario Nature

On Dec 8-9 PECFN will be defending the Environmental Review Tribunal ruling that overturned the Ministry of the Environment’s approval of the Gilead wind turbine project, which was later overturned at Divisional Court.  At present the Divisional Court’s ruling on Ostrander Point undercuts the ability of the Environmental Review Tribunal to make decisions based on the evidence before it. PECFN’s appeal of the Divisional Court ruling is a precedent setting case that impacts the validity of the Environmental Review Tribunal, the Endangered Species Act and the Environmental Protection Act.  As such it will affect environmental law across Ontario.

As Justice Blair, who granted a stay against any construction on the site said, “the issues raised on the proposed appeal are issues of broad public implication in the field of environmental law”.

The Evening Grosbeaks appearing at bird feeders this fall are one of Canada’s declining species.  It has declined 78% in the last 40 years.  Other examples of species decline: our iconic Canada Warbler: 80%; Rusty Blackbird: 90%; Olive-sided Flycatcher 79%; Bay-breasted Warbler 70%.  And in September the World Wildlife Fund reported that animal populations have fallen on average by 52 percent since 1970. The findings pertain mostly to vertebrate species, including mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles.

The root cause of these decimations is simple – loss of habitat. This loss of habitat and the species they support is a crisis for our planet superseded only by the projections of even worse decimations caused by climate change. Not only do we humans urgently need to stop the use of fossil fuels, we also need to urgently move to conserve the habitats of our remaining wildlife.

In order to stop fossil fuel use we must implement conservation by investing in retrofitting all 19th-20th century technology in our buildings and vehicles and begin to build alternative sources of power.  It is imperative that these new developments be sited in places that we humans have already removed from nature in order to preserve the scarce wildlife lands that remain.  New developments should not be sited in land that functions as significant habitat for wild species.

Our undeveloped wild places play a vital role in mitigating the effects of climate change.  Forests and wetlands sequester carbon keeping it out of the atmosphere, while tall grass prairies actually remove carbon from it. Wetlands prevent flooding and erosion and replenish our aquifers. Alvars and other seasonal wetland habitats filter contaminants, keeping them out of our streams and lakes. What allows these invaluable habitats to mitigate climate change are the wild species they support. Without these wild species, they will no longer function. Eventually they will cease to exist at all.

Prince Edward County’s South Shore is the last undeveloped land along the northern shore of Lake Ontario. If this industrial development is allowed to proceed it will be surrounded by another 29 turbines in the centre of the IBA and pave the way for hundreds of more turbines along Lake Ontario shorelines, including at Amherst Island which is world-renown for the owl populations that overwinter there.  They will join TransAlta’s turbine project on Wolfe Island which has caused the highest mortality rate of birds and bats in North America with the exception of Altamont pass in California and displaced the indigenous and wintering Red Tail Hawk and Short Eared Owl populations. A concentration of hundreds of industrial turbines along this intersection of two major migration corridors will form an impenetrable barrier, causing mounting declines for our migrating species and substantial degradation to the habitats along the migration routes that they stage in.

The 50 members of PECFN have raised almost $200,000 to pay the legal costs of these appeals against Gilead Power, the Ministry of Environment and the 291 corporations of the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWea).  This small organization needs the support of Field Naturalist clubs and concerned citizens from all parts of Ontario because the work we are doing will affect environmental law for the Province and the County.  Donations may be made online at  or by cheque to Ostrander Point Appeal Fund, 2-59 King St, Picton K0K 2T0.

Myrna Wood

Prince Edward County Field Naturalists



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Ontario Nature Action Alert







Message from Ontario Nature

It’s not every day that you have an opportunity to provide input on a brand new national park. Now is your chance! Parks Canada has posted for public comment its draft Management Plan for the proposed Rouge National Urban Park. The comment period ends this Thursday October 30, 2014.

Ontario Nature has done a thorough review of the draft plan and we feel three key changes are needed. Please lend your voice to help ensure the Rouge National Urban Park will adequately protect wild species and wild spaces in the heavily developed Greater Toronto Area.

There are many positive elements to the plan such as commitments to: link Lake Ontario with the Oak Ridges Moraine; encourage community involvement in habitat restoration and monitoring efforts; support active transportation, car-pooling and shuttle networks to get to and from the park; implement environmentally beneficial management practices on park farmland; and promote locally grown food. These elements should be retained and the draft management plan must be improved in the following ways:

  1. The plan must clearly prioritize ecological integrity and biodiversity conservation. The draft plan fails to prioritize the protection and restoration of the park’s natural features and values. Instead, it presents a vague vision of a “diverse landscape in Canada’s largest metropolitan area,” which offers “engaging and varied experiences.” The protection of natural, cultural and agricultural resources are all treated as on par, providing little guidance about how conflicts will be resolved.
  2. The plan must provide a coherent framework, with well-defined, measurable targets and set deadlines. The draft consists of a long list of actions and vague targets, with environmental considerations sprinkled throughout. There are not enough precise actions to be undertaken with associated deadlines.
  3. The plan should provide a clear framework for preventing adverse environmental impacts arising from the creation of new trails, and the introduction of new recreational activities and visitor services. The draft plan presents the park as a “true ‘People’s Park,’”and accordingly aims to increase the number of welcome areas, visitor services (equipment rentals, concession stands) and types of visitor experiences. Insufficient attention is paid to the risk of habitat fragmentation and adverse impacts arising from over-use.

Please join Ontario Nature in asking for improvements in these key areas. Rouge National Urban Park has the potential to protect one of the most vulnerable and ecologically diverse landscapes in the province, but only if the management plan sets clear priorities, objectives and targets consistent with that goal.

You can direct your comments to Parks Canada at: .

Please see the sample letter below to send to Parks Canada.
Dear Parks Canada,

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the draft management plan for Rouge National Urban Park. The establishment of this park represents a tremendous opportunity to conserve biodiversity and establish an important ecological corridor between Lake Ontario and the Oak Ridges Moraine. I urge you to strengthen the plan by:

  1. Clearly prioritizing ecological integrity and biodiversity conservation in park management;
  2. Providing a more coherent management framework, with well-defined, measurable targets and set deadlines; and
  3. Providing a clearer framework for preventing adverse environmental impacts arising from the creation of new trails, and the introduction of new recreational activities and visitor services.

Parks Canada should do everything in its power to protect this richly diverse yet vulnerable landscape. Only with clear direction and priorities will it be possible to ensure that nature thrives in this heavily developed part of the province.

For more information

For a copy of Ontario Nature’s submission on the draft management plan, please contact Joshua Wise, Greenway Program Manager at: .

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