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Point Pelee National Park of Canada

Park Management

Management Plan Review Newsletter - January 2010

Printable Version (PDF, 1.09 MB)

Sharing the Passion, Sharing the Leadership

You are invited to share your views, give us your opinion and make your voice heard by being a part of the review and renewal of the Point Pelee National Park Management Plan.

Every national park in Canada has a park management plan that provides a long-term vision and sets out the strategic direction that guide management of the park. The management plan is a forward-looking, fifteen-year document that is publicly reviewed every five years. Signed by the Minister of the Environment and tabled in Parliament, the park management plan is Parks Canada’s key accountability document with Canadians.

The Point Pelee National Park Management Plan is in need of renewal to take into consideration current challenges and opportunities for conservation, visitor experiences, and learning, as well as local, regional, and national changes in the environment, society, and economic development. An essential part of the plan review is reaching out to Canadians - Sharing the Passion, Sharing the Leadership – to help shape the future of the park.

Parks Canada Mandate

On behalf of the people of Canada, we protect and present nationally significant examples of Canada’s natural and cultural heritage, and foster public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment in ways that ensure the ecological and commemorative integrity of these places for present and future generations.

'Sharing your Passion, Sharing your Leadership’ will help ensure
we’re on the right track for protecting and presenting
Canada’s southern most national park.

Point Pelee National Park was established in 1918 in recognition of its North American significance as a stopover for migratory birds. The park is representative of the St. Lawrence Lowlands - Carolinian life zone environment. This zone is restricted to the most southerly part of Ontario and is the most biodiverse within Canada. Within the 15.5 km2 of the park are a variety of ecosystems, including savannah, marsh, forest, swamp forest, dunes, and beach. Middle Island, part of the Western Basin Lake Erie Archipelago, was added to the park in 2000. These ecosystems support a significant number of at-risk plant and animal species. The park protects a national icon - the southernmost tip of mainland Canada. Point Pelee is a day-use park, open year round with visitation averaging over 200,000 annually.

The park is located in one of the most culturally diverse regions of Canada and within a one hour drive of more than half a million Canadians. Including Canada and the United States, over 46 million people live within a 450-kilometre radius of Point Pelee.

One of Canada’s smallest national parks, Point Pelee is surrounded by a significantly altered landscape. A high proportion of the region has been cleared for agriculture, industry, and urban development. The park is an island of nature in a sea of humanity, vulnerable to what is happening around it.

The challenges and opportunities faced in the ongoing protection and presentation of Point Pelee National Park are framed by this juxtaposition, emphasizing the park’s ecological significance and fragility as well as illustrating the significant role the park can play in offering Canadians opportunities to experience their heritage and to establish a connection with this special place.

Human connections to this land reach back at least 6,000 years, as First Nations peoples encamped, hunted, and inhabited the peninsula. This connection remains strong as the Caldwell and Walpole Island First Nations embrace responsibilities for the environment and the life forms that inhabit this land as it is part of their traditional territories. Over the last century and a half, settlers made Point Pelee their home. Although the lifestyles of logging, fishing, hunting, farming, and cottaging are no longer supported within the national park, there remain strong ancestral ties with many local families. Community connections to the park include the Advisory Committee of Local Citizens, with roots that date back to 1925; the Henry Community Youth Camp, which has operated within the park since the early 1930’s, and the Friends of Point Pelee who have worked to enhance the visitor experience and support conservation of the natural and cultural resources in the park since 198. Along with other volunteers, more than a thousand hours are donated annually to help protect and present the park.

Parks Canada wants this special place to continue welcoming Canadians to discover, enjoy, and learn for generations to come. This will require – Sharing the Passion, Sharing the Leadership - working with many partners, stakeholders, and individual Canadians within the park and beyond its boundaries. This newsletter is intended to give background information for the management plan review on the key challenges and opportunities faced by the park. As well, it presents elements for a vision and proposes strategies and approaches for the future. The hope is that the newsletter will encourage you to share your views, concerns, opinions, and ideas to help shape the park management plan, determine where efforts should be focused over the next five years, and ultimately, to participate in protecting and presenting Point Pelee National Park.

Achievements Since The Last Management Plan Review

Most of the objectives outlined in the current point pelee national park management plan (1996) have been substantially implemented. The plan provided useful guidance and through its implementation, significant initiatives have been realized in conservation, visitor experience, and learning. Here are some of the highlights.

Facilitate Meaningful Visitor Experience

  • The Marsh Boardwalk tower was refurbished.
  • In collaboration with the Friends of Point Pelee, the Keep the Songs Alive fundraising initiative raised more than $250,000 for the new Visitor Centre exhibit.
  • A new hiking opportunity was created with the addition of the Chinquapin Oak Trail.
  • A lower power FM radio station was established to enhance visitor arrival information services and programs.

Reach out to Canadians in their Communities and at School

  • Participation in the annual Children’s Water Festival targeting Grade 5 students from the Essex County region (about 5,000 students).
  • Collaborations with provincial and regional tourism partners for destination development, promotions, park birding product renewal, joint advertising, etc.
  • “The Park in Your Community” outreach program with participation in more than 20 regional festivals and parades throughout the year.
  • ‘In school’ formal education outreach with curriculum based programs for Grades 4, 7 and 9 including participation in teacher Professional Development Days to create awareness, and collaboration with the University of Windsor Bachelor of Education program where the park hosts 3 student teacher placements.

Contribute to the Maintenance of Ecological Integrity

  • Reintroduction of the southern flying squirrel
  • Active management of the white-tailed deer population to ensure health of vegetation communities
  • Terrestrial ecosystem area increased by about 200 hectares through reduction of the human footprint in the park and habitat restoration
  • Design and implementation of the Ecological Integrity Monitoring Program for the park
Where Are We In The Management Plan Review?

The Point Pelee National Park: State of the Park Report provides a synopsis of the current state of the core elements of Parks Canada’s mandate – ecosystem conservation, visitor experience, public appreciation & understanding as well as cultural resources. This first report for the park, completed in 2007, used available monitoring data and research to assess the state of each element, which is expressed as good, fair, or poor. The report serves as a significant reference for this management plan review. Over all, the current state of Point Pelee National Park is considered fair. A copy of the Point Pelee National Park: State of the Park Report can be downloaded from the park website at:

The Point Pelee National Park: Management Plan Scoping Document sets the context for the management plan review. The scoping document outlines the significant issues and challenges, suggests elements for a park vision, proposes strategies and approaches anticipated for park management, outlines public consultations, and summarizes financial considerations. The newsletter summarizes this information for public consultation.

We are now commencing Public Consultations for the new park management plan. Consultations are critical for the management plan review as the views and values of Canadians are at the core of the park management plan. A positive future for Point Pelee National Park depends on engaging Canadians through their sense of connection, sharing their passion for enjoyment, and building a commitment for long-term protection and presentation of this special place.

Key Issues and Challenges

There is a need to review and renew existing active management programs for conservation and restoration. Identifying and implementing new active management programs will also be needed to maintain the mosaic of Carolinian habitats and support Species at Risk. This is required to reduce ecological stressors that include exotic invasive species, hyperabundant species, road mortality, contaminants, and lost disturbance regimes such as fire. Strategies and collaborations beyond park boundaries are also needed to address regional landscape stressors that include: fragmentation of ecosystems, altered coastal processes such as erosion, and the loss of natural habitat. Given the ecological context within the park and in the region, protection and recovery of the significant number of Species at Risk is complex and will require collaboration and ongoing investment.

Research in the areas of understanding visitors and potential markets including their needs and values is required. As well, a market-based approach will guide investment to renew and re-develop the visitor experience and park infrastructure. The park must be more accessible, appeal to a broader range of interests, increase visitation, foster a connection, and create relevance. A broad public outreach strategy is required to engage Canadians that do not visit the park in order to provide opportunities to discover and learn about the natural and cultural resources protected in the park, the significant conservation successes, and the many stories that reveal the legacy of this place.

Parks Canada is working with the Caldwell First Nation and the Walpole Island First Nation. Formalized advisory relationships are now needed to facilitate support and engagement for conservation, visitor experience and learning opportunities, as well as to provide for traditional cultural activities and economic benefit.

Cultural resources in the park include burial sites, archaeological sites ranging from aboriginal habitation, portage camps to farmsteads and cottages, and hundreds of related artifacts. With human connections reaching back thousands of years, the park has a rich and storied history. A cultural resources management strategy is required including a value statement, an assessment of factors for protection and communications, as well as identification of visitor experience and learning opportunities.

Many people and organizations share Parks Canada’s interest in the future of Point Pelee National Park. Through consultations, Parks Canada will be exploring opportunities for partnering that will advance the three core elements of its mandate: protection, education, and facilitating visitor experience opportunities.

Proposed Elements for a Park Vision

In 2018, Point Pelee National Park will celebrate its 100th anniversary. The proposed vision elements are intended to help paint an inspiring picture of the future desired state of the park at this milestone in the park’s history.

  • A lush oasis of nature at the southern tip of Canada, Point Pelee National Park is home to a rich diversity of Carolinian plants and animals including many rare and ‘at-risk’ species. A dynamic environment, the park resounds with migrating songbirds in the spring, hums with cicadas in the summer, flutters with Monarch butterflies in the fall, and is a peaceful place of reflection in the winter. This unique and magical place is where people gather to experience the park and create their own memories.
  • Visitors reconnect with nature while strolling the boardwalk, beaches and hiking trails and enjoy meaningful time with their families and friends through a diversity of activities designed to meet their needs and interests, such as canoeing, birding, bicycling, and picnicking.
  • Visitors have opportunities to experience and personally connect with the park’s special mosaic of habitats. The internationally significant coastal freshwater marsh, barrier beaches, dunes, swamp forest, and savannah are protected and restored so that native species - many of which are at-risk - not only survive, but also thrive.
  • The story of this irreplaceable heritage resource is presented on the Internet, through various new media and public outreach education activities to engage all Canadians with the successes and challenges of protecting and presenting this living legacy.
  • The ongoing health and sustainability of the park, its unique habitats, and Species at Risk are maintained by passionate Parks Canada staff and through strong relationships with Point Pelee’s neighbours. Parks Canada is a leader in conservation and, through education, experiential programs, citizen science, volunteers, and cooperative land stewardship the park is reconnected to the region and present in the hearts and minds of Canadians.
  • First Nations, Friends of Point Pelee, local communities, students, environmental groups, local businesses, municipalities, and landowners have all joined together to ensure the future of the park. Point Pelee has regained its relevance and is once again an important part of people’s lives, not only in the region but also on a national scale. Canadians are drawn to Point Pelee’s story of migration- of species, people, and the tip of the park itself. The understanding that the park is fragile inspires them to protect the park for all to enjoy.
  • A cooperative advisory relationship ensures inclusion of First Nations in all aspects of park management and operations, enables authentic visitor experiences, and identifies potential opportunities for economic benefit.
  • The stories of the thousands of years of people connections to this land are woven through the park’s visitor experience programs.
Proposed Management Strategies and Approaches

The purpose of the five proposed strategies is to translate the vision for Point Pelee National Park into a concrete strategic direction while addressing the park’s main issues, challenges, and opportunities. The three area approaches are proposed to achieve the vision and key strategies in specific geographic planning areas of the park.

Over the next five years Point Pelee National Park will receive an investment of $3.125 million dollars to undertake a number of initiatives including: active management to maintain the mosaic of Carolinian habitats with the emphasis on the Savannah and Middle Island, participating in regional shoreline studies, and partnering with the Carolinian Canada Coalition to address challenges and opportunities for conservation, visitor experience, and public appreciation & understanding. The proposed strategies and approaches will incorporate these initiatives.

Respecting the Seventh Generation: Honouring First Nations Connections to Point Pelee National Park

Point Pelee is referred to as “our home” by the Caldwell First Nation and a “part of our house” by the Walpole Island First Nation. These powerful statements illustrate the importance of the park to these First Nations, as it is located within their traditional territories. In the spirit of reconciliation and respect, Parks Canada will continue to build relationships with the Caldwell and Walpole Island First Nations. Participation of the First Nations in management planning as well as the delivery of services and programs for Point Pelee National Park is essential.

Redefining Point Pelee National Park as a Place to Relax, Enjoy and Connect

Canadians and international visitors know Point Pelee National Park as Canada’s southernmost national park, a refuge for wildlife, including many Species at Risk, and a place for people to relax, enjoy, and connect. By taking a market-based approach that engages and creates value for current and potential visitors, the goal of fostering personal connections to Point Pelee and raising awareness of Parks Canada is realized. Greater emphasis will be placed on facilitating high quality visitor experiences based upon the natural and cultural attributes of the park. Experiences where people enjoy the discovery of the park and its many facets can lead to understanding and stewardship. The park is internationally renowned as a bird and monarch butterfly migration hotspot. The Point Pelee National Park visitor experience will be refreshed, revitalized, enhanced, and expanded to capture a greater market, to increase visitation, and to capitalize on potential follow-up outreach and engagement opportunities.

Engaging in the Restoration of the Carolinian Habitat Mosaic

Restoration of the Carolinian habitat mosaic, including the recovery of Species at Risk protected within Point Pelee National Park, improves the health of park ecosystems, revitalizes the visitor experience by enhancing the opportunities for discovery and personal connection as well as building opportunities for a program of outreach activities that can bring this conservation initiative to Canadians at home, at school, at leisure and in their communities. Over the next five years the focus will be on the most threatened and rare habitat in the mainland of the park, the Lake Erie Sand Spit Savannah (found along the back beaches of the shoreline and in previously cleared areas) and the implementation of the Middle Island Conservation Plan

Collaborating for Conservation

Expanding and enhancing efforts to work with First Nations, local communities, partners, stakeholders, park visitors and the Canadian public throughout the Greater Park Ecosystem and beyond, to gain recognition, understanding and cooperation in realizing conservation and education goals, is essential. The ecosystems in Point Pelee National Park will continue to be protected by working with many partners within the park and beyond its boundaries to support conservation and sustainable management, which incorporates ecological, cultural, economic and social needs.

Protecting Cultural Resources

Point Pelee has a long and varied history of human connections and interactions. As a result, the park is rich with cultural resources. Cultural resource management considerations will be incorporated when undertaking conservation activities and developing visitor experiences. In collaboration with First Nations and others with connections to Point Pelee National Park, careful consideration and attention will be taken to weave the stories through the park’s visitor experience offer and outreach products and programs.

In addition to the five key strategies, three area approaches are proposed.

Mainland: Western Shore

This thin wedge of less than 5 km2 supports the majority of visitor activities. The area includes the western shoreline beaches, the Marsh Boardwalk, Delaurier Homestead, several hiking and bicycling trails, Henry Community Youth Camp, the group campground, numerous picnic sites, the Visitor Centre and the Tip. This area contains visitor facilities, roads and trails as well as other infrastructure and requires a management approach that balances visitor needs with the protection of the ecological integrity and Species at Risk. Although the beach areas remain important, visitation patterns have shifted to the forest and savannah trails, picnic sites, and Marsh Boardwalk areas. The Tip, the southern most point of mainland Canada, remains a significant attraction. Infrastructure renewal is required to maintain safe, high quality visitor experiences and ecological integrity.

Mainland: Eastern Shore and Marsh

Designated as a UNESCO Wetland of International Significance, about two thirds of the park’s 15.5 km2 is marsh. As such, the marsh is a ‘Special Preservation Zone’, as per national park zoning, with visitor access provided by the boardwalk or via non-motorized vessels, primarily canoes and kayaks. An accelerated rate of erosion along the eastern shoreline of the park has resulted in a loss of the east coast beaches. This narrow east beach ridge is all that protects the marsh from Lake Erie. Sustained breaching of the beach ridge could alter the marsh ecosystem and lead to the eventual loss of habitat and many Species at Risk. This combined with the fact the marsh is now a closed ecosystem that is much smaller than its natural configuration makes the marsh even more vulnerable to species loss. Parks Canada’s goal is to work with the local community and all stakeholders to identify viable economic and environmental options that will meet the future needs of the area.

Middle Island

Middle Island was added to Point Pelee National Park in 2000 to protect the island’s rare Carolinian ecosystem and nine Species at Risk. The nesting population of double-crested cormorants is too large and threatens to denude the island flora and extirpate the associated fauna. Active management to reduce the number of nesting cormorants to levels that will permit the survival of the island’s natural biodiversity, rare Carolinian ecosystem and Species at Risk was initiated in 2008. The Middle Island Conservation Plan outlines an adaptive management strategy, based on current scientific knowledge, research, monitoring and collaboration with provincial, federal, and U.S. conservation authorities. The area is proposed as a ‘Special Preservation Zone’ designation, due to the island’s significant ecological features and for public safety. A communications program which includes public outreach education, media relations and Internet will be very important in order to raise awareness, understanding and support for ecosystem conservation through active management.

How Can You Participate To Help Shape The Future For Point Pelee National Park?

Just contact us to request a copy of the Park Management Plan Review Comment Form and we will be happy to forward it to you.

  • E-mail:
  • Telephone: 519-322-2365
  • Fax: 519-322-1277

Your views, comments, opinions, and ideas will be gathered until February 12, 2010.

What happens next?

The views, comments, opinions, and ideas received as a result of the newsletter, public meetings, multi-stakeholder/partner meetings, and meetings with First Nations will be reviewed and analysed. The proposed elements for the park vision will be crafted into an inspiring picture of the future desired state for the park. The proposed strategies and approaches will be adopted, modified, and/or abandoned in light of First Nations, partner, stakeholder and public input and comments. With this and the direction provided by the Parks Canada Corporate Plan, the Point Pelee National Park Management Plan will be prepared. The park management plan is expected to be submitted to the Minister of the Environment for approval on March 31, 2010. Once approved, the plan will be tabled in Parliament. Following this, the Point Pelee National Park Management Plan will be made available.

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