Return of the Native - About Us
Feb 1

Happy highways - part of a biodiverse future for Ontario?

As the snow blows in off Lake Huron and wild turkeys drop by for a feed, James Corcoran is preparing for a new phase in his working life – retirement. Expect it to be busy and enjoyable, as he concentrates on his tree nursery, Hoanaadia in Grand Bend, where he specializes in growing Eastern Hemlock from seed.

It will certainly be less hectic than his career with the provincial government: Corcoran is retiring as roadside vegetation manager for the West Region (Southwestern Ontario). He’s been the only one occupying that position in all of the province, there’s no similarly specialized person in the other four regions. Fortunately, he’s not the last. He’s presently being shadowed by his replacement - and took time to talk about his work at a recent online meeting of the Ontario Phragmites Working Group.

It's a job that became a lot more complex in recent years, he says. Blowing snow sweeping across the over-cleared flatlands of the southwest has created dangerous winter driving conditions. “All those thousands of acres and no forest to stop them - it’s led to frequent highway closures, particularly on Highways 4, 6 and 21,” he says. “The amount of snow that’s being transported is huge.”
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Feb 1

Monarch numbers expected to hit an all-time low

As is their practice, the first Monarchs arrived near the El Rosario sanctuary on November 1 in 2022, just in time for the Day of the Dead festival that’s held each year to celebrate the end of the rainy season.

This winter, the area of oyamel forests that will be covered with Monarchs is going to be low – “probably one of the all-time low numbers – close to, if not below, 1 hectare (2.47 acres),” predicts ecologist Chip Taylor, founder of Monarch Watch, in a blog published last month.

Current numbers date back to 1993 – with the highest being 18.19 hectares in 1996-97, the lowest 0.67 in 2013-14. The butterflies of the eastern Monarch population are the ones that make their way north more than 4,000 kilometres – over several generations in the spring and early summer, and in one fell southward swoop in the fall.
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Dec 16

By Dec. 20: Tell the feds to do the right thing by the Monarch butterfly

They come and they go. 

The heart soars when they arrive, orange beauties floating into the garden. What was just another day has turned magical. It really is spring. We share the news.

There’s a pang of regret when they depart. Also a flash of hope, as a Monarch butterfly soars southwards into the sky. A tiny determined insect’s 4,600-kilometre migration unites the continent. We have yet to decode the mystery of how it knows where to go and how to get there. It’s fitting that there are feasts when it arrives in Mexico.

But our feckless ways have made the Monarch’s seasonal journeys so perilous, its sojourns in our northern breeding grounds so challenging, and its long rest in the southern wintering grounds so unpredictable.

So it’s about time we stepped up.
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