[OGD] protection for Platanthera leucophaea / resistance in Ottawa (Canada)

  • From: viateur.boutot@xxxxxxxxxxxx
  • To: orchids@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 01 Jan 2010 14:24:24 -0500

"An endangered wetland flower...
flashpoint between conservationists and landowners in rural Ottawa.

New regulations to protect the... eastern prairie fringed orchid are 
scheduled to come into effect in February under the 2007 Ontario Endangered 
Species Act.

But... several Ottawa-area landowners have refused surveyors access to 
their properties to look for the orchids, believing that discovery of the 
plants will lead to new restrictions on how they can use their land.

Tony Walker, past president of the Goulbourn Landowners' Association, said 
he hasn't heard of the new orchid regulations, but the resistance doesn't 
surprise him.

"Most of these regulations are... restrictive.
In many cases you can't even go within 100 yards...
You're basically denied access to your property," Walker said.
"There's no compensation, (and) you've got a lot of idiot government 
bureaucrats telling you what to do."

... Kyle Breault, provincial co-ordinator for the conservation group 
Tallgrass Ontario, said problems only arise when landowners want to 
bulldoze their land to build housing or commercial developments.

He said regulations to protect endangered species don't prohibit normal 
agriculture, and that landowners, conservationists, and ministry staff can 
work together to protect endangered species.

"The (Ottawa) Stewardship Council would take a pro-active, educational kind 
of approach: Now we know you have it on your property, what can we do to 
help you with it?" Breault said.

The small white orchid with fringed petals is rare across the globe, and 
its largest populations are found at four locations in Ontario.
One of those locations includes the Marlborough Forest in southwestern 
Ottawa, and botanists believe the habitat may extend to the nearby wetlands 
in Huntley, March, Goulbourn, Gloucester, and Fitzroy Harbour.

The new regulations make it illegal to kill the orchids or to "damage or 
destroy" their habitat, which includes the "fens, tallgrass prairies, and 
moist old fields," where the orchid now lives, or has been found in the 
past, within the Ottawa area.

This summer, a team of surveyors from the Ottawa Stewardship Council, which 
included Ministry of Natural Resources personnel, conducted a field survey 
to map the location of the orchids in the Ottawa area.

Some of the orchid habitat is on public land.
But much of the land is private, and of 16 rural landowners who had 
potential orchid habitat on their property, only three permitted access to 
the surveyors.

"Most private landowners were concerned that the orchid would be identified 
on their property, which would restrict certain future land uses (primarily 
development) above and beyond existing restriction imposed by the 
Provincially Significant Wetland designation," the September 2009 report by 
the Ottawa Stewardship Council stated.
"This concern has become even more prevalent in recent years with the 
considerable increase in property value in the Ottawa region."

Breault said there is little the provincial government can do if landowners 
refuse access to their properties.
However, if the land has been identified as potential endangered species 
habitat, it becomes much more difficult for the landowner to get a permit 
to develop it.

"We have a pretty good idea of where these plants... are, and when somebody 
says: 'I want to build condos here,' then the red flags start going up," he 
said, noting that steep fines can be levied for people who knowingly 
destroy endangered species habitat.

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources...
is holding two open houses in the Ottawa area next week to inform the 
public about the new regulations surrounding the eastern prairie fringed 
orchid and eight other endangered species."



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