Sam Brinker


  • Number of Completed Projects (2014-2015)
  • 18
  • Acres Conserved
  • 4,800
  • Land Value
  • $7,752,059
  • Stewardship Volunteers
  • 363

An underground treasure, protected from above

Did you know that the Ottawa River Valley is home to the longest freshwater cave system in Canada?

Beneath the surface of the Ottawa River lies a labyrinth more than 10 kilometres in length, including a four-kilometre section on the Ontario side of the river known as the Gervais Caves.

NCC has protected a 75-acre (30-hectare) shoreline parcel that contains most of the entrances to the Ontario portion of the caves. With its undeveloped shoreline, mature forests, river habitat, diverse plant and animal species and a network of freshwater caves, the Gervais Caves property is a high priority conservation property in the Ottawa River Valley.

The most important features of the property are the karst landforms and sinkholes associated with the Gervais property. Karst landforms are shaped when water flows underground via the cave systems, rather than flowing along surface river channels. Fish such as sturgeon, walleye and smallmouth bass can be found hiding in the nooks of the caves.

Above ground, the Gervais Caves property is just as impressive. This site is home to over 135 native vascular plant species, some of which are at-risk, including the endangered butternut tree, provincially rare Hooker’s orchid, regionally rare moonseed and Hitchcock’s sedge. The mature forest supports exceptionally large eastern white cedars, including two trees more than 90 centimetres in diameter that are many centuries old.


New species at risk found on Nature Conservancy of Canada lands

Staff and volunteers recorded new occurrences of nine at-risk species on five Ontario properties, including:

  • Milksnake
  • Bobolink
  • Eastern wood-pewee
  • Monarch butterfly
  • Hill’s thistle
  • Dwarf lake iris

Finding a forest giant

NCC marked International Day of Biodiversity with the discovery of Ontario’s tallest eastern white pine.

The giant reaches a magnificent 154 feet (47 metres) high and located along the Ottawa River at NCC’s Gillies Grove Nature Reserve. The finding has been confirmed by Forests Ontario’s Honour Roll recognition program.

To give some perspective, this tree is taller than a 13-story condominium.

Ryan M. Bolton

Rare skinks return to restored conservation lands

NCC has worked with partners since 2013 to restore habitat for the endangered five-lined skink in southwestern Ontario.

Efforts have included repeated shrub and garlic mustard removal from a one-acre (0.4-hectare) area and planting it with native seed.

This spring the our efforts were rewarded when three juvenile skinks were found in the restored area, along with four adults nearby. This observation is particularly exciting because it suggests the skinks are breeding on site or very nearby. Five-lined skinks are the only lizard native to Ontario and the species is only known to inhabit a few locations in southwestern Ontario.