North American Prairie Conference


Date of this Version



Published in Dave Egan & John A. Harrington, editors, Proceedings of the 19th North American Prairie Conference: The Conservation Legacy Lives On..., University of Wisconsin-Madison, August 8-12, 2004 (Proceedings of the North American Prairie Conference, 19), Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2004.


In Ontario, it is estimated the tallgrass prairie and savanna once covered 70,000 hectares (173,000 acres), of which approximately 3% (2,100 ha, 5,189 acres) remains today. Based on historical land surveys and from early botanical accounts, the easternmost extent of these unique habitats was along the eastern flank of the Oak Ridges Moraine in an area known as the Rice Lake Plains. This area covered an estimated 15,384 to 30,300 hectares (38,000- 74,131 acres) (Carling and others 1992). The Rice Lake Plains harboured numerous savanna indicator species such as the extirpated Karner blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis). In 2002, the Nature Conservancy of Canada purchased 316 ha (780 acres) on the Rice Lake Plains and initiated restoration plans. Bringing together multiple partners, NCC is leading the Rice Lake Plains Joint Initiative. This goal of the partnership is to raise the awareness of, and restore, the globally rare and provincially significant ecological communities and the species associated with them. To date, three years of funding has been secured. The Initiative involves the large-scale restoration of NCC lands and the assessment of over 2,400 hectares (6,000 acres) of adjacent lands. Restoration will include the removal of non-native species and prescribed burns. In addition, mapping and field inventories will be conducted on private lands on the Rice Lake Plains. Educational and communication opportunities will highlight this area to naturalists, landowners and local citizens and raise awareness of this globally rare habitat. Management plans are being developed for properties and will be used to generate a landscape conservation plan for the Rice Lake Plains.