This consultation was open from:
December 6, 2021
to January 20, 2022
We want to make changes to the Darlington Provincial Park Management Plan to allow for management of native wildlife and plants in the park, if needed, so we can protect park ecosystems.
The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks has a responsibility to protect representative ecosystems, biodiversity and provincially significant elements of Ontario’s natural heritage in provincial parks.
To help us better protect native species, we are proposing to amend the Darlington Provincial Park Management Plan to allow us to:
- manage native vegetation
- manage native wildlife populations with the potential to grow to the point that there may be a negative impact on the park's ecosystems
Darlington Provincial Park
Darlington Provincial Park protects Lake Ontario shoreline and wetland habitat. It is also a popular recreation destination. The park is home to species at risk, including Piping Plovers that nest on the park beach. The park protects McLaughlin Bay, a provincially significant coastal wetland that is separated from Lake Ontario by a large sandbar. Ontario Parks completed wetland restoration work in McLaughlin Bay in 2018.
Currently, the Darlington Provincial Park Management Plan does not fully allow for management of native wildlife and plants in the park. The changes we’re proposing would improve our ability to manage native wildlife and plants to protect the park's natural heritage and maintain the diversity and quality of the ecosystem.
There are currently two situations where we might need to manage native species to protect park ecosystems:
- Double-crested Cormorant population management
In 2019 we saw a colony of about 200 Double-crested Cormorants begin to establish in the park in McLaughlin Bay and they have caused minor damage to vegetation. This species damages vegetation by removing live branches for nesting materials and through the acidic nature of its feces.
Ontario Parks staff are monitoring the area and using pre-nesting control techniques (e.g. noise deterrents) to try to deter cormorants from nesting in the park. However, if the colony becomes established and continues to grow and nest in the park, this will threaten the ecological integrity of the wetland and we may need to undertake cormorant population management.
We anticipate that management would begin with reducing reproductive success (e.g. egg oiling, removal of nests with eggs). A separate environmental assessment process would need to be completed to evaluate the project in detail. Before population management can be conducted, the park management plan must be amended to allow for native wildlife population management.
- Piping Plover habitat management
Vegetation is encroaching in Piping Plover nesting area on the park beach and is threatening the persistence of suitable habitat. The park management plan must be amended to allow for vegetation management, which will likely be needed to prevent the loss of this species at risk habitat.
Proposed changes to the Darlington Provincial Park Management Plan
In Section 5.2 Vegetation Management, we want to:
- change wording so that vegetation management is not restricted to only specific listed situations
- add a bullet about management of native plant species to maintain, enhance, rehabilitate or restore habitat (e.g., vegetation thinning to maintain Piping Plover habitat in accordance with the Endangered Species Act, 2007)
In Section 5.3 Wildlife Management, we want to:
- add a policy to allow for management of native species with the potential to become hyperabundant (e.g., Double-crested cormorants)
We are interested in any comments the public may have. This is the only opportunity for the public to comment on this proposed amendment to the Darlington Provincial Park Management Plan. All comments received will be considered in the amendment to the management plan. There may be additional opportunities to comment on specific native species management projects according to environmental assessment requirements.
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Important notice: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, viewing supporting materials in person is not available at this time.
Please reach out to the Contact listed in this notice to see if alternate arrangements can be made.
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