By Mark Carabetta

Orchids – no fewer than 16 different kinds – and carnivorous plants – such as horned bladderworts and sundews – flourish at Ontario Nature’s unique Petrel Point Nature Reserve, as do numerous other provincially rare plants. Located near Lake Huron on the western side of the Bruce Peninsula near the community of Red Bay, this reserve supports an excellent example of Great Lakes coastal meadow marsh, a globally rare habitat. And thanks to a generous land donation from the MacRae family, the more than 300 vascular plant species found within the reserve now have more room to grow.

“We are happy to donate part of our land to Ontario Nature.” says John MacRae, “for their care and protection in perpetuity.”

The addition is part of Ontario Nature’s long-term campaign to increase the size of all our key nature reserves. Says Caroline Schultz, Ontario Nature’s executive director, “Ecologically important areas are not always protected through a single transaction. Rather, protection often begins with the acquisition of an initial core property, which is then built upon, piece by piece and over a number of years, through a combination of strategic purchases, donations and bequests.”

The Petrel Point Nature Reserve was first established when Ontario Nature (then called Federation of Ontario Naturalists) secured two parcels of fragile Great Lakes meadow marsh totalling 11 hectares, in 1967 and 1968. Adjoining properties, added to the reserve in 1984, 1991 and 2003, protected additional marshland.

With the conservation of a substantial piece of the marsh, Ontario Nature’s focus shifted to protecting the surrounding forest and swamp, areas critical to maintaining the ecological integrity of the original property. Donations of land in 2009, along with the 2010 MacRae donation, help ensure that the Great Lakes meadow marsh at Petrel Point will be enjoyed and appreciated for many generations to come. Ontario Nature is deeply grateful to the MacRae family for their support of our nature reserve program.