Alan Auld


  • Number of Completed Projects (2013-2014)
  • 10
  • Acres Conserved
  • 1,797
  • Land Value
  • $3,635,000
  • Stewardship Volunteers
  • 325
Alan Auld

Powder Islands now protected

The second time she ever saw a bald eagle in the wild, Linda Branderhorst, NCC event coordinator in Ontario, was in a boat en route to one of NCC’s latest acquisitions: the Powder Islands in Lake Superior.

But she didn’t see just one — as the boat rounded a series of square cliffs towering about calm waters, the noise of the boat stirred up a group of seven bald eagles perched on the cliff wall, soaking in the sun.

Such sightings, while rare for most city dwellers, are not uncommon along the north shore of Lake Superior, where rugged ridges, cliffs and mesas offer extreme south and north-facing microclimates. This unique landscape is a key area for Great Lakes biodiversity as well as part of the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area.

In January 2014, NCC announced the conservation of the 399-acre (161-hectare) Powder Islands. The two islands, 299-acre (121-hectare) Anguros Island and a 100-acre (40-hectare) unnamed island to the west, are located less than one kilometre off the coast of Lake Superior near Rossport. They are almost completely forested, supporting bald eagles and rare Great Lakes coastal wetlands.

Among the rare species documented here is a small purple wildflower called Franklin’s scorpion-weed.

The shallow waters around these islands provide spawning habitat for lake trout and lake whitefish, and stop-over habitat for migrating waterfowl.

NCC has had a longstanding partnership with the Pays Plat First Nations, who will be involved in the long-term management of the property. NCC has been working in the area for 15 years, and continues to build on connections with Pays Plat, other First Nations and forestry, mining and energy sectors in the area.

The project was made possible thanks to generous funding support from the TD Bank Group (TD) through its TD Forests Program.


Native species are the bomb: we helped children and families make more than 150 seed bombs at the SC Johnson Family Nature Day, which we co-hosted in May 2014.


A hot conservation tool

On the Rice Lake Plains in Northumberland County, NCC has been setting fire to the landscape for close to a decade. NCC staff burned roughly 87 acres (35 hectares) in early spring 2013.

Burns sponsored by the Rice Lake Plains Joint Initiative partners were managed by trained professionals from NCC, Ministry of Natural Resources and Lands & Forests Consulting, an independent prescribed burn consulting firm.

This is likely NCC’s largest burn season yet in Ontario (Manitoba and BC also have burn programs) and is one of the most extensive tall grass prescribed burn operations in the province. The burns are part of a long-term program to restore tall grass prairie and oak savannah to the area, which is Canada’s easternmost prairie landscape.

In Ontario, the Rice Lake Plains contain excellent prairie remnants that can be restored with prescribed burns. One of the NCC projects on the Rice Lake Plains, the Hazel Bird Nature Reserve, hosts a rich mix mix of forests, grasslands and globally rare black oak savannah.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Sharing great science from the Great Lakes

In recent years, NCC Weston Conservation Scientist and National Director of Conservation Program Development Dan Kraus has led NCC efforts to develop conservation strategies for the Great Lakes.

He was part of the team that co-authored the paper “Make No Little Plans: Developing Biodiversity Conservation Strategies for the Great Lakes,” published in the journal Environmental Practice. In it, authors from NCC and The Nature Conservancy (U.S.) analyze the results of biodiversity conservation strategies in context of the new Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and other initiatives.

The paper explores some of the challenges of conservation planning in large, complex ecosystems. It also chronicles recent policy changes that impact the management of the Great Lakes, and the role that biodiversity conservation strategies can play in conserving and restoring the world’s largest freshwater ecosystem.

NCC has integrated many of these strategies into the conservation plans for natural areas that include the Great Lakes, such as Lake Superior and Manitoulin Island.

Download a copy of the paper here.