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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Five ways to celebrate Earth Day at Ontario Parks

(News Release)

Celebrate Earth Day (April 22, 2017). After a long winter, spring is a season of celebration at Ontario Parks. Forests are a rainbow of green. Wildflowers carpet park woods. Songbirds are back.
Sunset at Bass Lake after the ice 'went out' or in. (Jim Fox photo)
Creatures bear young and lake ice has all but disappeared. It's an exciting time to reconnect with nature. Opening dates for seasonal parks vary, so be sure to check park operating dates before you go at https://www.ontarioparks.com/operatingdates/2017.

Here are five fun ways to celebrate Mother Earth this spring: 

1.  Take your kids on a kid-friendly hike
Matt Cunliffe, an Ontario Parks naturalist, has written a post for the Parks Blog that shows you how to get your kids interested in the magical sights, sounds and smells of the season. http://www.ontarioparks.com/parksblog/5-kid-friendly-signs-of-spring/

2.  Use your smart phone as a field guide
Photograph a butterfly, video tape a slow-moving turtle or record a birdsong then search a match for each and enter your geotagged observation. Turn your smart phone into a field guide on your next park visit. Here are seven free apps to choose from, http://www.ontarioparks.com/parksblog/citizen-science-apps/.

3.  Get to know your songbirds
Provincial parks along Lake Ontario, Lake Erie and Lake Huron host songbird festivals every spring. If you're a budding birder, this is an opportunity to learn your birds through the eyes of expert birders and park naturalists. Join morning bird walks, guided night hikes and workshops with birdbanding demonstrations and nature photography. Here are this year's festivals and dates, http://www.ontarioparks.com/parksblog/spring-birding-festivals/

4.  Go fishing
Anglers fish for trout just after April ice-out. Walleye fishing season begins a bit later, in mid May. If you're looking for a fishing trip of a lifetime, try one of these Northeastern Ontario Parks, http://www.ontarioparks.com/parksblog/8-bucket-list-fishing-trips-in-northeastern-ontario/. Would you like to learn to fish? Sign up for a free Learn to Fish lesson at Ontario Parks. Equipment and instruction are provided. https://www.ontario.ca/page/learn-fish.

5.  Discover why your favourite park is a one-of-a-kind 
Ontario's most popular parks have a major challenge. They must balance their ecological integrity while providing park recreation. Discover what goes on behind-the-scenes of your favourite park and you may be surprised.

Sandbanks Provincial Park is a good example. "Most people think of Sandbanks' beaches, but there's so much more." says Yvette Bree. The park's Natural Heritage Education Leader was this year's winner of the Ontario Parks Ecological Integrity Award. She wants visitors to appreciate how unique and fragile Sandbanks is. Learn more about the "Protector of the Dunes" at http://www.ontarioparks.com/parksblog/ecological-integrity-award-2016-sandbanks/

Are you new to camping? Registration begins May 8th for Learn to Camp, a guided one or two night camping experience offered at eight provincial parks on July and August dates. Equipment is included.  http://www.ontarioparks.com/learntocamp.

Ontario Parks posts regularly on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ontarioparks, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ontarioparks

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