On Monday, Jul. 31, 2023, the Ontario government announced the province’s first new conservation reserve in over 10 years: The Monarch Point Conservation Reserve. Located in Prince Edward County, the reserve will include 4,000 acres along the County’s south shore.
“Ontario is working to protect our natural environment and preserve our province’s biodiversity. Creating Monarch Point Conservation Reserve is an important step in achieving this goal,” said David Piccini, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, in a press release. “This new protected area will not only safeguard important habitat for the iconic monarch butterfly, but also for countless other species that call this area home. I’m proud that this new protected area will ensure future generations can enjoy the natural beauty of our province.”
According to the province, the reserve is named after monarch butterflies, which frequent the area during their annual migration. The site, which was formerly known as Ostrander Crown Land Block and Point Petre Provincial Wildlife Area, is already recognized as an International Monarch Butterfly Reserve and an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area, the release noted.
As an official conservation reserve, the site will provide much-needed habitat for the at-risk monarch butterfly population, as well as other wildlife, including migratory birds and reptiles, while also allowing members of the public to experience the area’s “natural beauty” through activities such as hiking and bird-watching.
Todd Smith, Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Bay of Quinte, said, “The creation of the Monarch Point Conservation Reserve ensures the preservation of Prince Edward County’s south shore, an environmentally significant area on the Canadian side of Lake Ontario’s shoreline… It is the product of great collaboration between our government, the local community, and partners to designate this land as protected now and for future generations.”
Steve Ferguson, Mayor of Prince Edward County, remarked on the significance of Monday’s announcement, saying, “We are thrilled that Ontario’s first new conservation reserve in 10 years is right here in our back yard. The County is well-known for its natural beauty and rich biodiversity. Creating Monarch Point Conservation Reserve is a critical development for protecting the many species that rely on this area and giving the community wonderful opportunities to responsibly enjoy this beautiful corner of our municipality.”
Besides the response from local politicians, the news also drew support from those dedicated to environmental conservation, such as the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), which worked with local and provincial stakeholders to make the new reserve a reality. “At NCC, we are pleased to support efforts to increase long-term protection of lands in southern Prince Edward County. Together with our partners, NCC has helped to protect more than 1,850 acres in this landscape including properties adjacent to Monarch Point Conservation Reserve. Collaborative conservation solutions like this are key to fighting the climate and biodiversity crises,” said Mike Hendren, the NCC’s Regional Vice-President for Ontario.
With Monday’s announcement, The Monarch Point Conservation Reserve officially joins 295 other conservation reserves across the province, which are regulated under the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act.