By John Hassell
Congratulations to our partner organization, the Bruce Trail Conservancy (BTC), for raising $1 million to secure an additional 114 hectares of Malcolm Bluff Shores, a spectacular 423-hectare (1,045- acre) area on the Niagara Escarpment, north of Owen Sound. Together, Ontario Nature and BTC have raised the funds needed to permanently protect 346 hectares, or over 80 percent, of this reserve for diverse plant and animal communities alongside the Georgian Bay shoreline.
Malcolm Bluff Shores possesses important wetland and woodland habitats of ecological significance that support rare and sensitive species such as hart’s tongue ferns, Canada warblers and peregrine falcons. Ovenbird, great horned owl and wood thrush also inhabit the woods here, one of the largest contiguous forests on the escarpment.
“BTC and Ontario Nature have a mandate to preserve natural spaces, while encouraging the public to appreciate sensitive areas in a sustainable way. Together we are ensuring that future generations can experience the wild beauty of this incredible landscape,” says Beth Kümmling, executive director of BTC.
“Malcolm Bluff Shores is a masterpiece of nature not only for its ecological diversity, but also for its geological diversity,” adds Kümmling. “It has six distinct rock formations and more than 110 metres of elevation change.” On display is some 350 to 400 million years of escarpment history, carved into the layers of dolostone and shale.
Ontario Nature and BTC conservation staff will jointly undertake an ecological inventory and management plan for Malcolm Bluff Shores. Kümmling anticipates that, to showcase the area’s natural features, supplementary trails will be added to the Bruce Trail, which now snakes along the top of the bluff that runs the length of the property.
The partnership has ensured that Malcolm Bluff Shores is permanently accessible for educational and recreational activities. “It is crossed by the Bruce Trail and within a half day’s drive from most of southern Ontario. Nature lovers can go there to hike, watch birds, take photos and enjoy the spectacular views,” says Mark Carabetta, Ontario Nature’s conservation science manager.
With support from Nature Canada, Ontario Nature purchased 232 hectares of the property in March 2010 and is currently raising funds to buy the final 77 hectares by March 2012. Learn more about Ontario Nature’s campaign to protect Malcolm Bluff Shores on our website (protectyourshare.ca).