The largest remaining privately owned island in Lake Superior is now permanently protected, marking a significant win for nature in Ontario.
That’s according to Kaitlin Richardson, the Nature Conservancy of Canada Program Director for Northern Ontario, who says thanks to a campaign by their agency and the support of many community partners, the 2,076-hectare Batchewana Island will now remain a permanent haven for wildlife, birds, and fish.
She adds Batchewana Island is in the Lake Superior vicinity, the world’s largest freshwater lake by area and is in proximity to Sault Ste. Marie.
Richardson says the work will now focus on completing species inventories, contributing to the organization’s knowledge of biodiversity on the island.
Richardson also provided more information about the makeup of Batchewana Island, which is a part of the traditional territory of the Batchewana First Nation and is located north of Sault Ste. Marie in Batchawana Bay. The island boasts 27 kilometres of undeveloped shoreline as well as intact forests and wetlands.
The forests and wetlands are a prime location for more than 75 bird species, 30 of which are provincially significant and four are species at risk, such as rusty blackbird (special concern), bald eagle (special concern), and Canada warbler (special concern). The island is also home to several wide-ranging mammals such as black bear, Canada lynx, gray wolf, and moose.
The waters of the surrounding bay provide important habitat for freshwater fish, such as at-risk lake sturgeon. The island’s forests and wetlands absorb carbon, helping to lessen the impacts of climate change.
She adds the project was made possible with the support of many private donors and foundations. Contributions were also made by the Government of Canada, through the Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund, and the Government of Ontario, through the Greenlands Conservation Partnership program.