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Stephen's Gulch Conservation Area trail with Trilliums



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When it is time to breathe some fresh air, there is nothing better than getting out and hiking one of the many scenic trails that are available within Central Lake Ontario Conservation's numerous Conservation Areas. With over 45 km of trails between all the Conservation Areas, there is bound to be something of interest for everyone.

The terrain and trail lengths vary considerably depending on where you choose to hike. Options include leisurely strolls along the shores of Lake Ontario or more rigorous terrain within the rolling hills of the Oak Ridges Moraine. Some Conservation Areas have links to the Waterfront Trail or the Oak Ridges Trail, providing access to a much longer trail network. Please remember to protect nature by staying on the trails, obeying all trail signs, carry out your garbage, and leave all plants (and wildlife) for others to enjoy after you.

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Cross-country skiing
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What better way to enjoy a bright winter’s day than by gliding through a snowy forest on cross-country skis? CLOCA offers trails that are great for beginner, intermediate, and advanced skiers. The trails are not groomed and conditions are weather-dependent. Skiers should be aware that the trails are multi-use trails at all times of the year.  Skiers may encounter hikers or snowshoers (who are asked to walk to the side of the trail when skiing opportunities exist).​

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Leashed Pets
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Leashed pets are permitted at all our Conservation Areas, however at Lynde Shores Conservation Area pets are only welcome on the paved Waterfront Trail. For the enjoyment of everyone, pets must be kept on a leash (maximum two-metres long) at all times, and pet owners must clean up after their pets. Keeping pets on a leash also helps to minimize the disturbance of sensitive wildlife. This pet policy is enforced through the Conservation Authorities Act, with fines being issued by Conservation Authority Enforcement Staff.

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Southern Ontario is known for having good fishing opportunities within many of the large creeks and rivers that empty into Lake Ontario. Many of the main creeks within the CLOCA watershed, including the Bowmanville, Oshawa and Lynde Creeks, pass through several of the Conservation Areas.​

Fishing is permitted within several of our Conservation Areas, but anglers are asked to please stay on the designated trails, carry out garbage, and fish only at approved locations. Anglers should be aware that while fishing is permitted in some Conservation Areas, it is still regulated through the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, which includes the requirement of a fishing license and adherence to provincial catch limits. Check out the Fishing in Durham Map for more fishing locations.

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Montain Biking
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Mountain Biking

L​ooking for a great way to stretch your legs and your lungs? Mountain biking is one way to get the exercise you are looking for. 

Cyclists should be aware that the trails are open to multi-use activities. They may encounter other users (e.g., hikers and their pets) at any point along the trail. Please be conscious of speed, particularly around sharp corners and along downhill sections. Alert any slower-moving trail users to your presence and slow down and proceed with caution as you pass. If you are the first in a group, please let other trail users know how many are in your group.

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Snowshoeing is another great way to enjoy a nice winter’s day while getting plenty of exercise.  Those taking advantage of snowshoeing opportunities should be aware that the trails are multi-use trails at all times of the year. When snowshoeing, please stay off the established cross-country ski track (if present) by only traveling along the side of the trail.

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Wildlife / Bird Watching
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Bird Watching

When you feel like it is time to get back to nature, there is no better place to go than a Conservation Area. From provincially significant coastal wetlands, to headwater tributaries in the midst of the provincially significant Oak Ridges Moraine, our Conservation Areas include a diverse array of habitats that attract a variety of bird species! 

Visitors within our Conservation Areas are asked to stay on marked trails or within established activity areas in order to avoid disturbing the more sensitive portions of the areas that are not open to the public. Those who are interested in bird watching in areas normally off limits to the public, may apply for a Sensitive Areas Permit (no fee). This permit is designed to protect both the sensitive areas (and their wildlife) within conservation lands from unwarranted disturbances and to protect the individual or group from unnecessary prosecution or embarrassing situations.


For those interesting species sightings both inside and outside of our Conservation Areas, please consider adding them to our Species Sightings Database.

Groups involved in organized wildlife viewing and bird watching within and outside of Central Lake Ontario Conservation's watershed:

Durham Region Field Naturalists

Ontario Field Ornithologists

Field Botanists of Ontario

Hawk Watch

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Conservation Area FAQs

  • What grade is the Festival for?
    Funding has been provided for Grade 4 students only. Split classes will need to plan for students not in Grade 4.
  • What time will buses pick up at our school?
    Buses are scheduled to pick up between 9:30 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.
  • When is payment required?
    Payment is brought with you on the day of your trip and given to the bus greeter.
  • Where is the Festival located?
    The Festival takes place at the privately owned and closed-to-the-public Camp Samac (275 Conlin Road East, Oshawa, ON L1H 7K5).
  • Are there designated times to attend the Festival activities?
    Yes and no. If you confirm your final attendance numbers early enough, you will be scheduled for the Council Hall Special Guest presentation and will receive a schedule time for that activity. The rest of the Festival activities are not scheduled.
  • Are refunds provided for absent students?
    There are no refunds for students absent on the day of the trip.
  • Can adult volunteers arrive separately from the bus?
    Parking is limited. Adult volunteers are to arrive with the students on the bus. If a space is required, please arrange with the Festival Coordinator three days prior to your visit.
  • Is the Festival accessible?
    Yes. All the buildings are accessible and the outside activity centres are positioned on flat lawn areas. Paths to and from the three main areas are paved and gravel surfaced.
  • What is the adult-to-student ratio?
    We recommend one adult for every five to eight students. Activity centres are designed to accommodate approximately 14 students.
  • What is the timing of the Festival?
    The Festival hours are 9:45 a.m. – 1:30.p.m.
  • Will there be a rain date?
    No, the Festival takes place rain or shine. Come prepared for the possibility of wet and cold weather.
  • How do I confirm my final student numbers?
    You confirm your final student numbers online with the link provided at the top of your Festival invoice.
  • What is the cost?
    The fee is $12.50/student. The Durham Children's Watershed Festival is a not-for-profit event where sponsors have provided funding to help cover the cost of bussing.
  • Will teachers receive bus confirmation?
    No, teachers will not receive bus confirmation. Teachers will receive bus contact information for any issues encountered on the day of your trip.
  • Who arranges the bus transportation?
    Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority arranges and pays for bussing. If the bus does not arrive by 9:45 a.m., contact the bus company directly. Contact information is provided at the bottom of the Festival iInvoice.
  • We have a student(s) with accessibility needs, will the bus be accessible?
    Yes, please indicate during registration and the student(s) will be accommodated.
  • Corporate Volunteering
    As part of our ongoing efforts to enhance our Conservation Areas and environmental education programs throughout the year, we offer a variety of unique volunteer opportunities for corporations. Assisting with Existing Programs Some corporate partners volunteer a small number of employees to help with an existing program, like our Durham Children’s Watershed Festival. This generally consists of the employees participating in a day or more of delivering an activity centre. Implementing and Completing Projects For larger employee participation, we typically design a project to meet your needs and objectives and ask that a donation is made to cover the costs of materials to implement the project. In some cases, if opportunities exist and time is available, our staff will submit a funding proposal to a variety of grant agencies or foundations to cover the material costs. Corporations who prefer this option will require six months to one year for planning, design, approvals and the preparation of funding applications. For more information, please contact: Yvonne Storm, Special Events Coordinator 905-579 0411, ext. 144
  • Conservation Area Trail Stewards (CATS)
    Conservation Area Trail Stewards are trained volunteers whose responsibilities include basic trail maintenance, informal educational engagement with the public, reporting of user and infrastructure needs, and some invasive species management. After completion of online (4.5 hours) and on-site (2 hours) training, CATS volunteers receive their own CATS kit with the materials they need for their role. CATS commit to visiting their designated conservation area at least once a month for 12 months. This goes a long way in helping us take better care of the trails, as well as maintain visitor access, safety, and enjoyment when we are not on site. Learn more and add your name to our CATS contact list.
  • Community Science
    ​Check out our "Community Science" page for self-guided community science opportunities with CLOCA and our partners.
  • Festivals
    Purple Woods Maple Syrup Festival (March-April) Volunteers are needed to assist with the delivery of the annual Purple Woods Maple Syrup Festival at Purple Woods Conservation Area in Oshawa at 38 Coates Road East. Positions include Children’s Activity Assistant, Festival Admissions Assistant and Parking Assistant. Must be age 14 and up to apply. Durham Children's Watershed Festival (September) Volunteers are needed to assist with the delivery of the annual Durham Children’s Watershed Festival at Camp Samac in Oshawa at 275 Conlin Road. Positions include Activity Centre Host and Bus Greeter. For more information, please contact: Yvonne Storm, Special Events Coordinator 905-579 0411, ext. 144
  • Where can I report invasive plants?
    Report your observations to the Ontario's Invading Species Awareness Program hotline to help track target areas and species ranges.
  • Where can I submit my photos for CLOCA to use?
    Show us what you've seen on your Conservation Area adventures! We're looking for excellent, calendar-worthy photos of landscapes, close-ups, even selfies taken in our Conservation Areas in all seasons! ​ By submitting your photo(s) you are permitting CLOCA to use them on their Instagram and/or Facebook account, website, Conservation Area Brochure, and other online and printed material. ​ ​Follow us on Instagram and Facebook to catch your contributions!
  • How do I report a spill?
    Spills can be reported to the Province of Ontario by phone or through an online form.
  • How do I submit a Freedom of Information Request?
    Fill out and submit our Access/Correction Request. A $5 fee applies.
  • Is fishing allowed in the Conservation Areas?
    Fishing is permitted at Enniskillen Conservation Area, but anglers are asked to please stay on the designated trails and to take their garbage with them. Anglers should be aware that while fishing is permitted, it is still regulated through the Province of Ontario, which includes the possession of a valid fishing license and respecting provincial catch limits. Safe consumption guidelines can be found at
  • Do you have accessible trails?
    We do! We offer accessible trails at: Bowmanville Westside Marshes Conservation Area Connector to paved Waterfront Trail (200m) surface: crushed granular Heber Down Conservation Area Maple Leaf Trail (750 m) surface: crushed granular Iroquois Trail (Town of Whitby, 2.3 km) surface: asphalt ​ Lynde Shores Conservation Area Waterfront Trail (3.1 km) surface: asphalt ​ Purple Woods Conservation Area Discovery Trail (900 m) surface: crushed granular, rolling terrain though slopes do not exceed 8%
  • Why aren't there more garbage cans in the Conservation Areas?
    Garbage receptacles in conservation areas are an attractant for our wildlife. Raccoons, skunks, and flying insects are all drawn to garbage, and can create a public safety issue for visitors. Wildlife and garbage generally results in garbage being spread over a large area, and possible health impacts to wildlife. Garbage is expensive! Staff time and equipment is required to collect and transport garbage along with disposal fees. Recovering the costs related to garbage receptacles would impact the parking fees and we make every effort to keep parking fees low so we can continue to offer affordable visits to our Conservation Areas. Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority does not sell or supply any products or materials that would generate garbage, such as drinks and snacks. Any garbage at the Conservation Areas has been brought in by visitors. We think it is reasonable that visitors who bring in garbage can take the garbage home for recycling and disposal. Staff hope that the "carry in, carry out" policy for garbage actually invokes thought about the waste we generate and encourages waste reduction and recycling at home.
  • How do I apply for a Sensitive Areas Permit?
    Fill out the Application to Access Sensitive Areas and submit by email or in person to Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority.
  • May I take photos in the Conservation Areas?
    We encourage photography for personal enjoyment in all our conservation areas. Wildlife and landscape photography can be entered into our photo contest. In accordance with Ontario Regulation 101/90, we do charge a fee for professional photographers who are using the Conservation Areas to do business.
  • Where can I submit my photos for CLOCA to use?
    Show us what you've seen on your Conservation Area adventures! We're looking for excellent, calendar-worthy photos of landscapes, close-ups, even selfies taken in our Conservation Areas in all seasons! ​ By submitting your photo(s) you are permitting CLOCA to use them on their Instagram and/or Facebook account, website, Conservation Area Brochure, and other online and printed material. ​ ​Follow us on Instagram and Facebook to catch your contributions!
  • Is camping, canoe rentals, or winter activity rentals offered at any Conservation Areas?
    Unfortunately we do not offer camping or canoe rentals at any of our Conservation Areas; however, Darlington Provincial Park offers seasonal camping and canoe rentals. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are permitted in all of our conservation areas, pending conditions, however, there are no equipment rentals available. If you are interested in trying out snowshoeing, we do host an annual event in February where we invite the public to enjoy this winter activity at Enniskillen Conservation Area.
  • Where can I report an injured turtle?
    If you find an injured turtle, contact the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre. Sometimes they can even harvest and incubate eggs from recently deceased turtles! Help keep turtles safe! Please watch for turtles on the roads and help them cross safely—in the direction they are going. Please remember, turtles, like all wildlife, are illegal to keep as pets.
  • Where can I report poaching?
    Please report poaching of wildlife or eggs to: MNR TIPS line: 1-877-TIPS MNR (1-877-847-7667) CLOCA at
  • What should I do if I see an injured animal or an abandoned baby animal?
    Do not approach or touch the animal. Often wild animals have the best chance of survival if left on their own. This is why it is important to assess the situation carefully. Is the animal exhibiting abnormal behaviour? If you are concerned, please contact Soper Creek Wildlife Rescue or the Toronto Wildlife Centre. If the animal is a turtle, please contact the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre. If it is an animal emergency, be sure to contact the rescue centres by phone rather than email. The goal is always to rehabilitate and return wildlife back to the location where they were found. Recognize that it is illegal to keep any wild animal as a pet.
  • Are there ticks in the Conservation Areas?
    Ticks are tiny, eight-legged critters that live on grasses and shrubs and, like mosquitoes, they eat blood. They don’t jump or fly, but they wait “questing” with a few of their legs out, ready to grab onto whatever walks by. Blacklegged ticks or deer ticks can carry Lyme Disease and other diseases and they have been found in our Conservation Areas! Please protect yourself by wearing bug repellent with DEET, staying on the trails, wearing light-coloured clothing including long sleeves, long pants, tall socks and closed-toed footwear, and keeping your dog on a leash. Avoid long grass and be sure to check yourself after spending time outside.
  • Will I encounter a black bear in a Conservation Area?
    Black bears live in most parts of Ontario and are rare visitors in our conservation areas. For your personal safety, and for the well-being of bears, it is important to learn about bears and their behaviour. Please review the "Be Bear Wise" from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. ​ For an immediate emergency call: 911 To report a bear sighting in a conservation area call: 905 579 0411
  • Where can I report dead or ill wild birds (Avian Flu)?
    Please use caution if you see a wild bird acting strangely or find a dead bird (especially a hawk or owl) that has no obvious signs of death. These sightings can be reported directly to the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative. Learn more about the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza:
  • Is shoreline protection the responsibility of the landowner?
    There is no precedent for private shoreline protection being publicly funded in Ontario. If you own property along the shoreline, in general, you are responsible for the associated hazards. Currently, CLOCA is not aware of any funding available to complete community wide mitigation plans. However, there is a growing public awareness of hazards and the need to invest in risk mitigation. This study will place residents and governments in a better position to act on the recommended mitigation plans should funding become available in future.
  • Will the Shoreline Flood Risk Study impact my property value or my CLOCA permit application?
    Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority currently has complete floodplain mapping for riverine (creek) systems and complete mapping of shoreline flooding, erosion, and dynamic beaches for the Lake Ontario shoreline. Studies show that floodplain hazard mapping has very small impacts on property values, while actual flood events have more significant impacts on property values. Properties located within a shoreline hazard are currently subject to CLOCA’s policy implementation of Ontario Regulation 42/06 which prohibits development along the Lake Ontario shoreline unless it has been determined that the control of flooding, erosion, dynamic beaches, pollution or the conservation of land will not be affected by the development. The risk study will review and confirm the mapping of flooding, erosion, and dynamic beaches, and will provide further clarity on the level of risk for each property. Existing regulations for shoreline properties will not change. The study will also recommend an appropriate mitigation plan to reduce the risks for each shoreline damage centre. This work will better inform residents of their individual level of risk and provide both residents and local governments with effective options to mitigate this risk. For more information on the effects of hazard mapping on property values, please refer to the following websites:
  • What is the National Disaster Mitigation Program?
    In 2014, Public Safety Canada announced a National Disaster Mitigation Program (NDMP) using an investment of $200 million over five years. The NDMP was available for provinces, municipalities and Conservation Authorities to complete flood risk assessments, floodplain mapping, flood mitigation planning, and small-scale mitigation projects. Through the program, approved projects are eligible for 50 per cent of project costs from the Government of Canada. In 2020, a renewal of the NDMP was announced which designated $25 million over two years. The NDMP program aims to address rising flood risks and costs, and builds the foundation for informed mitigation investments that could reduce, or even negate, the effects of flood events. Knowledge that is up-to-date and accessible helps governments, communities and individuals understand flood risks and employ effective mitigation strategies to reduce the impacts of flooding, and further discussions on developing a residential flood insurance market in Canada.
  • Why is my home still shown as being within or affected by the hazards when I’ve already invested in engineered shoreline protection?
    Shoreline hazards (and corresponding risk) are based on a natural shoreline, per provincial policy (i.e. the presence and condition of shoreline protection is not considered).
  • Erosion and flooding along the shoreline have been a problem for several decades. Why is CLOCA completing this study now?
    CLOCA began regulating shoreline hazards in Ontario in 2006 when Regulation 42/06 came into effect. At that time the 1990 Sandwell Roster Shoreline Management Plan report was used to apply the regulations. Through Regulation 42/06, CLOCA has worked to ensure new subdivision development only occurs outside of the hazard limits. Unfortunately, many homes were built before this time within the hazard limits. In 2018 funding was secured from Public Safety Canada’s National Disaster Mitigation Program (NDMP) to update the 1990 Hazard Maps and shoreline management plan. This work provided updated hazard limits for the entire shoreline, including neighbouring Conservation Authorities. CLOCA recently obtained additional funding from NDMP to complete the current Shoreline Risk Study which is focusing in on the 7 communities within CLOCA’s jurisdiction which are directly impacted by shoreline hazards. The Risk Study will recommend the best mitigation strategies for each community to facilitate future mitigation works for residents & governments.
  • How will the Shoreline Risk Study differ from the Shoreline Management Plan?
    The risk study will build upon the updated flood and erosion hazard information from the SMP to rate the level of risk to homes and businesses within the seven defined shoreline damage centres (Ontoro Boulevard in Ajax, Crystal Beach in Whitby, Stone Street and Muskoka Avenue in Oshawa, Port Darlington [Cedar Crest Beach Road, Cove Road, and West Beach Road], and the Wilmot Retirement Community in Clarington). A risk mitigation plan will then be developed for each shoreline damage centre based on the risk assessment. This will include recommended preferred and alternative mitigative actions, concept plans, approximate costs, and implementation considerations for the proposed alternatives.
  • What are natural hazards?
    Natural, physical environmental processes that occur near or at the surface of the earth can produce unexpected events of unusual magnitude or severity. Such occurrences are generally regarded as natural hazards. The outcome can be catastrophic, frequently resulting in damage to property, injury to humans and other organisms, and tragically, even loss of life. In these cases, natural hazards are considered natural disasters. On the Great Lakes shoreline, natural hazards include flooding, erosion and dynamic beaches. [Note: definition is from Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.]
  • What is a Shoreline Management Plan?
    Shoreline Management Plans (SMPs) are created to increase the resilience of coastal communities, updating existing hazard mapping using the best available information. Conservation Authorities use this mapping to protect new development from coastal hazards. In addition, updated hazard mapping informs future projects intended to protect and enhance existing private and public amenities along shorelines, incorporating nature-based solutions where possible with consideration to climate change impacts. Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority recently completed an update to the Lake Ontario Shoreline Hazard Management Plan in 2020. The previous SMP within CLOCA’s jurisdiction was developed in 1990.
  • What is the process to complete private and public shoreline protection projects?
    The permitting and approval process for any private shoreline protection project includes design by a qualified individual, permits from the conservation authority, approvals from NDMNRF/DFO for work beyond the high-water mark, construction by qualified contractor, inspections, and long-term monitoring & maintenance. Public projects follow a similar process but are also required to follow the Environmental Assessment Process (Class EA) and typically include a public tender.
  • Why have other jurisdictions such as Scarborough and Toronto completed erosion protection already?
    Shoreline protection projects in other jurisdictions are public projects to protect public lands. There are several examples of this throughout Toronto, and these projects typically protect publicly owned lands such as public trails, parks, public roads, rail lines, environmental protection areas, etc. The projects would have followed a very rigorous approval process, engineering design, Class Environmental Assessment, tendering/contracting process, construction and will be subject to continued maintenance and eventual lifetime replacement. These are publicly funded and typically lead by Municipal governments, the province, or federal government.
  • Why is non-engineered, lower-cost shoreline protection not permitted (gabion baskets, scrap concrete, etc.)?"
    Shoreline protection that is not properly designed will deteriorate or fail, and in some cases cause impacts to adjacent shoreline and property. Policies surrounding shoreline protection standards are meant to ensure adequate protection from the hazards while protecting landowners’ investments, neighbouring shorelines/properties and the coastal environment. Engineering and permitting is typically a very small portion of the overall cost (<10%).
  • Turtles and Snakes
    Turtles, Snakes and Salmonella CLOCA's Education Animals - Education Plan Animals will be taken in and out of their housing by our conservation education staff who will have been trained in the proper handing and care of these animals. If we feel that the group of program participants will be careful and respectful of our education animals, if allowed to interact with them, then we will bring them around to seated program participants and allow them to pet them (tail end of a snake, and on top of the shell for a turtle). Another conservation education staff will follow with hand sanitizer for participants to disinfect their hands after contact with the animals. Hand washing with soap and water will occur as well before any food consumption by participants following an animal show.
  • Program Evaluation
  • Trail Safety
    Trails are monitored by our area staff to ensure that they are safe for use by visitors. Please Note: CLOCA staff keep students on trails and cut grass areas when engaged in activities. Risk of coming in contact with the following insects and plants is low. Parents/Guardians are informed on how best to dress students and on the best insect repellent to provide them with in order to further reduce their chances of insect bites or contact of untouchable plants to skin. Time spent outdoors can be such a valuable experience, and can be done safely when precautions are taken.
  • Untouchable Plants
    Poison Ivy Central Lake Ontario Conservation’s Most Untouchable Plants
  • Insects to Avoid
    In Southern Ontario, there are some species of critters that may carry diseases, such as West Nile Virus or Lyme Disease. While the risk of contracting these illnesses is low, it’s important to be aware of the possibility. Blacklegged ticks or deer ticks are the type of ticks that can carry Lyme disease. To learn more about ticks and Lyme disease, information is available on the Government of Canada, Public Health Ontario and your local Public Health Unit websites. Before programming starts, CLOCA staff will conduct a general safety orientation with participants. As part of that orientation, staff will explain to children how to identify ticks and to notify their leaders if they find one either on themselves or another student. Upon completion of the program, participants will be asked to team up to do a simple visual scan of each other to help identify any ticks or other bugs that might have landed on participants. Students will also be given the option of tucking their pants into their socks. If a Tick is found biting a program participant: 1. If the child is at a CLOCA program with their school or with their guardian/parent, CLOCA staff will follow the school's protocols for responding to the ticks, or check with the parent or guardians before responding to the tick. If no school protocol is available and no parents or guardians are available onsite, CLOCA staff will remove the tick by following the steps outlined below. 2. If the child is at a CLOCA program without their school or guardian/parent, CLOCA will take the following steps outlined below to remove the tick. - Grasp the tick with tweezers as close to the skin as possible - Slowly pull the tick straight out until it is removed; - Thoroughly cleanse the bite site with rubbing alcohol and/or soap and water after the tick has been removed; - Place the tick in a container and give it to the teacher to take home to give to the parents/guardians. It is recommended that parents/guardians submit the tick for testing to the Public Health Unit. - Notify the parent/guardian of the tick bite. 3. CLOCA recommends that if anyone is bitten by a tick that they consult their Public Health Unit or qualified health professional as soon as possible. What you can do to help students prepare: Consider requesting that students bring insect repellent containing DEET or icaridin and show them how to apply it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Please note that CLOCA staff cannot provide insect repellent but can assist students in reapply their repellant as necessary. Request that students wear clothes that cover exposed skin including long-sleeved shirts or jackets, long pants, and socks; closed toe shoes, and a hat. Give parents the knowledge to help them search their child for ticks when they get home: Pay special attention to the following areas: o Groin o Scalp o Underarm areas o Back o Ears Place child’s dry clothes (without other washed clothing) into the dryer set to “high” for 15 - 60 minutes to kill any ticks that may be on the clothing. Remove attached ticks from child’s body as soon as possible following your Public Health Unit’s recommendations.
  • Pre-trip Planning
    Trip Information and Planning Template for Pre-trip Letter to Parents or Guardians
  • Post-Secondary Placement
    Post-Secondary Placement available in Natural Heritage, Watershed Planning, Communications, GIS, Accounting and Administration, Engineering and Land Management. Applications must be received by October of semester 1 for placement in semester 2 or February of semester 2 for the upcoming semester 1.
  • Volunteer Monitoring Assistant (Terrestrial or Aquatic)
    Volunteer opportunities are available to support CLOCA Biologists with data collection, database management and GIS mapping as part of our Integrated Watershed Monitoring Program. Ability to identify Ontario native and invasive plant species, and Ecological Land Classification Certification are required for the Terrestrial Monitoring Volunteer Assistant. Ability to identify Ontario native and non-native fish, benthic invertebrates, and submergent/emergent vegetation and possess a Pleasure Craft Operators Card, certification in Wetland Evaluation, OBBN, Electrofishing, able to conduct field work and use a handheld GPS, and working knowledge of ArcGIS are required for the Aquatic Monitoring Volunteer Position.
  • Conservation Area Trail Steward (CATS)
    ​Central Lake Ontario Conservation launched our first graduating class of Conservation Area Trail Stewards at Lynde Shores Conservation Area and the boots landed on the ground in January 2020. We continue to look for interested volunteers, minimum 18 years of age. High school students can participate; however, they must be supervised by a parent or guardian. Our next intake is currently postponed due to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Please add your name to our CATS Contact List and we will forward you updates as they become available. For more details about CATS, please visit
  • Weather & Water
    OUR MONITORING We are constantly monitoring weather forecasts and watershed conditions at locations across the watershed. Our Water Monitoring Network is a collection of stream gauges, rain gauges, air and water temperature probes, groundwater monitoring wells, snow measurement sites, surface water and groundwater quality sampling sites. These measurements, weather forecasts and radar information on temperatures and rainfall predictions, along with historic data, are all taken into consideration when developing a flood forecast. The data is catalogued and analyzed to develop effective watershed wide management programs in support of our polices like the Flood Forecasting and Warning System, Low Water Response and Source Water Protection programs. Observing trends over time requires long-term tracking and monitoring. WHAT CAN YOU DO Monitor Weather or Water Quality Our SMART Watersheds Project is designed to create a technology ecosystem, enhancing our environmental monitoring activities with more frequent data collection, analysis, and advanced data management. In addition to the technology, the SMART Watersheds engages community volunteers, the general public, elementary, high school and post-secondary students in using this new technology in their local watershed.
  • Amphibians
    OUR MONITORING Some of the first sounds of spring are the songs of frogs and toads with each species gradually joining the chorus as spring progresses. The variety and abundance of these species-specific calls is recorded by our wildlife biologist through evening roadside surveys and has been used to help calculate the health score of our coastal wetlands. We always look forward to their annual heralding of spring. WHAT YOU CAN DO Identify & Monitor Frogs The Toronto Zoo's FrogWatch Ontario program offers a fun, easy opportunity for you to become a FrogWatcher citizen scientist by collecting information on frogs in your neighbourhood or at the cottage and submitting the data online. The Toronto Zoo’s Adopt-A-Pond program has online resources that can help you identify frogs by sight and sound! All data collected online is shared with the Natural Heritage Information Centre and the Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas at Ontario Nature.
  • Birds
    OUR MONITORING Our biologists have monitored birds in our watershed for over two decades as the presence and absence of birds, especially certain species, helps tell the story of ecosystem health in our forests and coastal wetlands. ​ In forest ecosystems, an inventory of the bird species is completed by visiting stations within the forest and listening and recording each bird species observed or heard. Some species of birds get higher scoring values than others because they only live and breed in higher quality, larger habitats. ​ For coastal wetlands, six species of birds that are only found in very healthy coastal wetland ecosystems are used to help determine wetland health. These birds include the pied-billed grebe, Virginia rail, sora rail, American coot, common moorhen, and least bittern. Since they are generally secretive, their presence and abundance is evaluated by playing recordings of their calls and listening for responses. WHAT YOU CAN DO Identify & Monitor Birds Join the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the world’s largest biodiversity-related citizen science project: eBird. This website and Merlin mobile app are free, easy-to-use tools for anyone interested in birds. eBird helps locate local bird hotspots, allows for sharing of bird sightings, and tracks life bird lists. Most importantly, the observations submitted to eBird are used for research. ​ Join Bird Studies Canada in their Project FeederWatch program by counting birds at your feeder and submitting your data online. The goal of this project is to track long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance. Anyone is welcome to participate and will be sent a research kit with instructions and identification guides. Identify & Monitor Nests Join Bird Studies Canada in their Project NestWatch program by tracking bird nests and submitting your data online. Anyone is welcome to participate and will be sent a research kit with instructions and ID guides. Habitat Enhancement Build your own birdhouse and install it in your backyard or on your balcony! Learn the features of a good birdhouse and consider using the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s “Right Bird, Right House” interactive to help decide which style of nesting structure to build - complete with free construction patterns and plans. Learn to garden for birds by checking out the Canadian Wildlife Federations Wildlife-friendly Gardening Guide or Credit Valley Conservation's Native Plant List for Breeding Birds or Migrating Birds.
  • Monarch Butterflies
    OUR PROJECTS & PROGRAMS Marvelous Monarch Library Program Our interactive traveling monarch display spends a week each summer at the Whitby, Oshawa and Clarington Public Libraries. Complete with live eggs, munching caterpillars, transforming chrysalises, and newly hatched butterflies, this display lets you get up close and person with these amazing creatures. ​ Pollinator Gardens Check out our native plant pollinator gardens at Enniskillen Conservation Area and Purple Woods Conservation Area! ​ Social Media & Education Ongoing awareness through our website, Facebook, blog, “In Our Watershed” school-based education programs and our “Marvelous Monarchs” activity station at our annual Durham Children's Watershed Festival. WHAT YOU CAN DO Plant Milkweed Monarch caterpillars are picky eaters and only eat milkweed. A variety of different milkweed species grow in Ontario. Learn to recognize and protect our milkweed. Many local native plant nurseries have milkweed in stock. For schools or groups or areas larger than 2 acres, you can apply for free milkweed plants. All milkweed plants contain a milky-white sap that is poisonous to most animals. Amazingly the monarch caterpillar uses this to its advantage and as it eats milkweed, becomes poisonous itself! The bright colours of the monarch caterpillar and butterfly warn predators that they will be a nasty meal. Identify & Report Monarchs Join Mission Monarch and search for and report monarchs at any life stage. Identify & Report Milkweed Prefer plant ID? Join Milkweed Watch and report milkweed locations.
  • Turtles
    OUR MONITORING It’s tough to be a turtle! All eight of Ontario’s turtles are species at risk. Piloted using visual surveys in 2018, our biologists have started monitoring turtles in various wetlands within our watershed. Using basking nets and fyke nets since 2019, information is collected on captured turtles before they are marked and released. This data is used to determine population size, survivorship, and growth rates of our local turtles with efforts mainly focused on long-term population monitoring at Bowmanville and Lynde Creek Marshes. Since 2019, turtle nesting activity is also being monitored along a road bordering one of our coastal wetlands. Many female turtles prefer a sandy area with good drainage for nesting, which makes road shoulders unfortunately appealing. All turtle data is used to inform management, restoration, and conservation strategies. WHAT YOU CAN DO 1) Identify and Monitor Turtles Become a Turtle Guardian and help track, monitor and protect turtles across Ontario. Turtle Guardians offer five levels of involvement based on skills from identification up to a research level. They offer lots of online education and information and a variety of volunteer opportunities. ​ ​ The Toronto Zoo’s Ontario Turtle Tally is a fun, easy turtle monitoring project for people of all ages and abilities. The purpose is to collect, record and store location and species information on Ontario turtles, including species at risk. Turtles are most often seen in June when they are traveling to reach their nesting sites. Adopt-A-Pond helps you learn to identify turtles through their online resources! You can also contact them directly to receive a hard copy of our Ontario Turtle Tally Package. All data collected online is shared with the Natural Heritage Information Centre and the Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas at Ontario Nature. 2) Provide Taxi Services for Injures Turtles The Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre is located near Peterborough and provides an operating turtle hospital that treats rehabilitates and releases injured turtles, performing extensive research in the field to further conservation initiatives. They also run a comprehensive education and outreach program and offer opportunities for the general public to volunteer at their centre. You can sign up for their newsletter, shop their online store or volunteer to provide taxi services for injured turtles. Remember to break for turtles, and learn how to help turtles safely cross the road in the direction they are going. 3) Protect Turtle Nests To help give turtle eggs a chance, we have set up some self-serve stations so you can help protect turtle nests in our Conservation Areas. If you see a turtle nesting in our Conservation Areas, please keep your distance and wait until they have finished laying eggs. When the mother has moved on, mark the place with an X of sticks and collect the materials and information you need from the following locations: Enniskillen Conservation Area (station is located at the south entrance, north side of the Education Centre) Bowmanville Westside Marshes Conservation Area (station is at the entrance) Heber Down Conservation Area (station is at the Seasonal Entrance -Lyndebrook Rd) Lynde Shores Conservation Area (Cranberry Marsh – station is at the beach end of the Lake Ontario Trail OR Lynde Marsh – station is located just west of the Pay and Display in the Victoria Street Parking Lot) When placing one of our turtle covers over a clutch of eggs that have been laid, please visit our Turtle Monitoring web page where you can record the location of where the turtle cover was placed, as well as to share any pictures or observations you’ve made. Please also let us know if you see a predated turtle nest (if there are broken eggshells scattered on the ground, this is a sign that the eggs were eaten by a predator, like a raccoon; if the eggs had hatched, the eggshells would remain underground and a small ‘escape’ hole would be visible). PLEASE NOTE: THESE TURTLE COVERS ARE FOR USE IN THE CONSERVATION AREAS ONLY. 4) Visit a Wetland Enniskillen Conservation Area offers a pond for a dipping experience and an opportunity to see turtles in their habitat. There are accessible floating docks and signage to remind our visitors to leave their finds behind when they leave. All you need to bring is a small net and a white bucket. Turtles are not likely to be caught, but you will gain an appreciation for their habitat and other pond life like dragonflies, minnows, snails and water striders. Please re-home rather than release your unwanted pet turtles. Turtles sold at pet stores are usually red-eared sliders, which are an invasive species in our wetlands.
  • Fish
    OUR MONITORING Certain species of fish will only be found in high-quality habitats, so knowing the species and amounts of each species is an important consideration when determining a health score for our streams and coastal wetlands. Electrofishing is used in both our streams and wetlands to collect data on our fish populations. This common scientific monitoring method involves introducing a localized electric current that temporarily stuns the fish, allowing for painless, efficient data collection and a quick release.
  • Why does the Maple Syrup Festival end at 2:30 each day?
    It takes us approximately three hours to clean, restock, repair items and prepare for the next day.
  • Is the Maple Syrup Festival accessible?
    Our building and washrooms are fully accessible and are conveniently located at the top of the hill. We do offer a shuttle service up and down the hill for visitors with mobility issues (available on request). We regret that access down or up the hill is not suitable for motorized wheelchairs due to trail conditions.
  • Are dogs allowed?
    Sorry, only service animals are permitted at the Maple Syrup Festival. After Festival hours, leashed dogs are allowed at Purple Woods Conservation Area.
  • I purchased a ticket and now one of the attendees is sick. Can I get a refund?
    All sales are final unless we close the Festival due to extreme weather in which case a refund will be processed to your original form of payment.
  • How should I dress?
    Purple Woods Conservation Area is on the crest of the Oak Ridges Moraine and the weather is usually cooler and windier. Where there is mud, there is sap! Our natural trail and grounds change with the season so please bring sturdy footwear.
  • I purchased too many admission tickets, can I get a refund?
    All sales are final unless we close the Festival due to extreme weather in which case a refund will be processed to your original form of payment.
  • If I buy tickets to the Festival, do I also need to pay for parking?
    No. Pay and display parking at Purple Woods Conservation Area is not applicable during the Maple Syrup Festival hours.
  • Where do I purchase wagon rides?
    The wagon rides are at the bottom of the hill. You pay the operator directly. They accept cash only.
  • Are you a nut-free facility?
    No, we sell products containing nuts in our Heritage Store.
  • How does Central Lake Ontario Conservation acquire land? Where has it traditionally focused its land acquisition efforts?
    Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority uses a number of approaches to acquire lands that require protection in order to maintain natural biodiversity in the landscape: Purchase — Working with funding partners, such as the Oak Ridges Moraine Foundation, the Regional Municipality of Durham and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, CLOCA will secure key properties by purchasing them at fair market value from willing landowners. Conservation Easement — Easements are voluntary legal agreements conveyed between the property owner and the conservation organization to protect significant features of the property. The terms of the easement are registered on title and provide a tool for the Conservation Authority to protect significant features on a property without owning it. Donation — Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority will accept donations of key properties from individuals or estates. Charitable receipts can be provided to the donor. Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority has traditionally focused its land acquisition efforts in three primary areas: The Oak Ridges Moraine (important for its groundwater recharge and discharge functions and for its large unfragmented forested areas) The Iroquois Beach area (important for its groundwater recharge and discharge functions, significant cedar swamp wetlands and minimally disturbed valley lands) Lake Ontario shoreline (important for its watershed outlet zones and provincially significant coastal marshes)
  • Why is Central Lake Ontario Conservation developing a Conservation Lands Master Plan? Why now?
    Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority has not undertaken a significant review of its conservation lands programming in more than 20 years. Since that time, Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority’s conservation land holdings have more than double through successful land securement efforts; public use of conservation areas has increased dramatically, while new and different approaches to outdoor recreation and education have emerged; conservation area infrastructure requires new investments; significant population increases and subsequent pressures on our natural resources are expected in the Durham Region over the next decade and beyond. Detailed management plans have been developed for CLOCA’s core conservation areas and a Lands Securement Strategy was formalized in 2015. Extensive natural heritage restoration work has been unfolding along with the development of a more fulsome and diversified trail network and investments in new public use infrastructure. Importantly, the development of a new Strategic Plan for CLOCA recognizes the importance of promoting the enjoyment and safety of conservation lands by improving enforcement, land management and land use infrastructure. In addition, the Region of Durham is developing a new Regional Official Plan. That work has just commenced and will be establishing the future development of our communities to support future growth (population, infrastructure and economic) while protecting the environment and addressing important issues including climate change. Many of the municipalities across the CLOCA watershed have identified open space and recreational needs based on anticipated growth and integration of this work with CLOCA’s conservation lands planning is important in providing a fulsome assessment. For all of these reasons, the time is right to develop a comprehensive Master Plan for Central Lake Ontario Conservation’s conservation lands.
  • Is Central Lake Ontario Conservation working with the watershed municipalities to develop the Master Plan?
    Yes, the Region of Durham and the area Municipalities are important partners in conservation. Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority is working closely with municipal staff to ensure that the municipalities are solidly engaged in the development of the Master Plan from the outset.
  • What is a Conservation Lands Master Plan?
    A Conservation Lands Master Plan is a comprehensive and strategic document created to protect, conserve and restore the valuable ecological features and functions associated with CLOCA’s conservation lands, while guiding the current and potential future public uses of these lands. Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority’s Conservation Lands Master Plan is intended to provide a vision of what is possible within the Central Lake Ontario Conservation watershed and motivate partners and supporters to assist CLOCA in realizing that vision. The Master Plan that is in development will guide the management and use of CLOCA’s conservation land holdings until 2041.
  • What is the process for developing the Conservation Lands Master Plan?
    The Master Plan process will occur in several phases that consist of compiling background material and research, holding public information and engagement sessions, developing the vision, goal and objectives as well as the management recommendations. Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority will be looking to community members and organizations, government agencies and industry throughout the process to help develop guide the Master Plan.
  • What are ‘conservation lands’? Where are these conservation lands located in the Central Lake Ontario Conservation watershed?
    Conservation lands include streams, wetlands, valleylands, woodlands, meadows, groundwater recharge/discharge areas, aquatic environments and other important wildlife habitat. Many ecologically significant features and functions are found on conservation lands across the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority (CLOCA) watershed. These conservation lands play a critical role in helping to sustain Durham Region’s sensitive natural resources including water, aquatic, terrestrial and wildlife habitats and offer many opportunities to connect with the natural world through passive and active recreational and educational activities.
  • Why are conservation lands important?
    Human health is intimately tied to the health of our environment. The effective management of conservation areas are important because they are the foundation for a healthy quality of life. Connecting people to the natural world creates many economic, ecological, socio-cultural, emotional and environmental benefits. Conservation lands have been acquired, protected, and restored in an effort to support CLOCA’s primary mandate, which includes the protection, management, and restoration of the watershed’s important natural resources. These conservation lands play a critical role in sustaining Durham Region’s critical natural resources including water, aquatic, terrestrial and wildlife habitats, and in turn the environmental services provided by these natural assets. As a result, these lands are of critical importance for maintaining healthy watersheds
  • How did Central Lake Ontario Conservation ensure that all interested members of the watershed community and stakeholder groups have an opportunity to contribute to the creation of the Master Plan?
    We developed a robust engagement strategy to ensure that any interested community members and stakeholder groups could share their ideas: We had developed an online survey to allow watershed residents to share their views. We placed drop-boxes and comment cards at the front desk of each Municipal Office and in many libraries and community centres in our watershed jurisdiction. We hosted Public Meetings to share our progress and to allow our watershed residents to share their ideas with us. Details regarding these meetings were distributed and were posted on CLOCA's website.
  • Why is a Conservation Lands Master Plan important for Central Lake Ontario Conservation?
    A Conservation Lands Master Plan will help us to: identify a clear and agreed-upon set of goals for our conservation areas and conservation land holdings; streamline and focus decision making; allow human and fiscal resources to be accurately and appropriately aligned with identified priorities; develop a forward-looking and forward-thinking vision for our conservation lands; and, ensure that our conservation lands continue to meet the needs of our watershed and community.
  • What is the timeframe for developing the Conservation Lands Master Plan? When will it be finalized?
    The Conservation Lands Master Plan is being completed over a number of years with multiple phases. The process is being led by a Steering Committee consisting of CLOCA staff. A consultant was retained to assist staff in developing consultation process and initial phases of the Conservation Lands Master Plan. Based on the current work plan for this project, the Conservation Lands Master Plan is expected to be presented to the CLOCA Board of Directors in late 2021.
  • What happens once the Master Plan is approved?
    The Conservation Lands Master Plan, once developed, will be used to make informed decisions. It will be used by the CLOCA Board of Directors to make decisions about priorities, and it will be used by staff as a tool to focus resources—staff and fiscal resources —in alignment with those priorities
  • What is the scope of Central Lake Ontario Conservation's Conservation Lands Master Plan?
    The Conservation Lands Master Plan covers all conservation lands under the jurisdiction of CLOCA. Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority has been protecting areas of natural significance within its jurisdiction through direct ownership for many years. Today, CLOCA owns more than 2,700 hectares of conservation lands that protect significant wetlands, valleylands, forests, meadows, groundwater resources, aquatic environments and other important wildlife habitat.
  • Planning and Regulations
    Development and maintenance of geographic data and mapping products to support Ontario. Reg. 42/06 Regulations screening applications
  • Education
    Orienteering Mapping for education programs Student/public engagement (e.g., interactive watershed sandbox) RBC Smart Watershed Program
  • Source Water Protection
    Science-based analysis, mapping, communication and support
  • Water Resources
    Floodplain mapping Flood forecasting and warning mapping Flood vulnerability mapping Water monitoring analyses, mapping and support
  • Oak Ridges Moraine Groundwater Program
    Create and maintain groundwater mapping for the ORMGP, partner agencies and consultants
  • Conservation Lands Management
    Manage/maintain landholdings' database Create/maintain Conservation Area trail map; 911 Emergency Access maps
  • Data Holdings and Availability
    Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority has a large repository of spatial and tabular data that is available through their Open Data Portal, or through the Data Request process (see additional information and links below).
  • Corporate Services
    Maintain CLOCA’s spatial data repository Data request management Information Technology (IT) support Open Data Portal
  • Watershed Planning and Natural Heritage
    Data collection surveys and mobile apps for the field Land Cover data management and mapping Modeling and Analysis for Natural Heritage Systems and Restoration Prioritization planning Watershed Plan updates (analyses, mapping and communication) Support for CLOCA's Integrated Watershed Monitoring Program
  • About Ontario Regulation 686/21
    Ontario Regulation 686/21: Mandatory Programs & Services, issued pursuant to section 21.1 of the Conservation Authorities Act, requires all conservation authorities to provide: Programs and services related to the risk of natural hazards Programs and services related to the conservation and management of lands owned or controlled by the authority, including any interests in land registered on title Other programs and services prescribed in the regulation Programs and services related to the authority’s duties, functions, and responsibilities as a source protection authority under the Clean Water Act, 2006 Programs and services related to the authority’s duties, functions, and responsibilities under an Act prescribed by regulations As part of the implementation, Ontario Regulation 686/21 requires all conservation authorities to prepare documentation by December 31, 2024. For CLOCA this includes: Conservation Area Strategy Watershed-based Resource Management Strategy Land Inventory The regulation stipulates that the conservation authority shall ensure stakeholders and the public are consulted during the preparation of the Conservation Area Strategy and Watershed-based Resource Management Strategy.
  • What Does This Mean for CLOCA?
    Many of CLOCA’s existing programs and plans fulfill or exceed the information requirements or components of the Strategies and Plans required by the Province. Examples of already completed/existing components include: CLOCA Watershed Plans Land Acquisition Strategy CLOCA is working to ensure the strategic work of these programs and plans is consolidated, documented, and updated to match the requirements of the regulation for each Strategy or Plan. These Strategies and Plans support the following goals in CLOCA’s 2021-2025 Strategic Plan: Goal 1 – Conserve, Restore and Enhance Natural Resources Through Integrated Watershed Management Goal 2 – Support Healthy Communities and the Protection of People and Property from Flooding and Erosion Goal 3 – Remain Dedicated to the Protection, Management, and Safety of Conservation Areas Goal 4 - Create a more Knowledgeable and Connected Watershed Community through Engagement and Education The Strategies and Plans are also consistent with CLOCA’s Memorandums of Understanding for Municipally Requested Services.
  • About the Conservation Authorities Act
    Conservation authorities are watershed management agencies established under the Conservation Authorities Act, 1946. The purpose of the Conservation Authorities Act is to provide for the organization and delivery of programs and services that further the conservation, restoration, development, and management of natural resources in watersheds in Ontario. Conservation authorities work in partnership with all levels of government, landowners, and other agencies. Additional background information on conservation authorities is available through Conservation Ontario. Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority (CLOCA) was formed in 1958 and is one of 36 conservation authorities in Ontario governed by the Conservation Authorities Act. CLOCA's jurisdiction includes four major watercourses and eighteen minor watercourses as well as the Lake Ontario shoreline. The area stretches from the municipal boundaries of Ajax/Pickering to the middle of Clarington, and north, from Lake Ontario to the crest of the Oak Ridges Moraine. This land represents approximately 380,000 people. Additional information on CLOCA’s area of jurisdiction and partnering municipalities is available HERE.
  • Public Consultation
    Two strategies have mandated consultation: Conservation Area (CA) Strategy Watershed-based Resource Management (Watershed) Strategy These strategies will be completed by the end of 2024. Help to shape these strategies by answering a few questions. Conservation Area Strategy Survey – Coming soon! Watershed-based Resource Management Strategy Survey – Coming soon!
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