Southern shore of Caribou Island now protected

Two and half kilometres of Lake Superior frontage is now off limits to development.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada purchases the south facing side of island near Thunder Bay

Cliffs along the coastline of Caribou Island on Lake Superior near Thunder Bay (Rolf Hicker Photography)

Two and half kilometres of Lake Superior frontage is now off limits to development.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada has bought 65 hectares of Caribou Island, 32 kilometres east of Thunder Bay.

It's a piece of property Chris Maher, the northwestern Ontario program manager for the Nature Conservancy, said the organization has had its eye on for about six years.

He said the NCC paid $330,000 for the southern part of Caribou Island with help from Environment Canada, and the Paterson, John Andrews, and Barrett Family Foundations. Maher said there is also a Nature Conservancy endowment fund of about 15 per cent of the market value of the property for the ongoing stewardship of the land.

Chris Maher, the Northwestern Ontario Program Director for the Nature Conservancy of Canada

He said while the island is visually stunning, the ecological value of the land is amazing.

"The high bluffs, the endangered species that inhabit it, just general ecosystem of it. It's been a figurehead around the Thunder Bay area for some time," said Maher.

Maher noted the island is home to a pair of nesting bald eagles, peregrine falcons, and white tail deer but despite the name of the island, no caribou. He said the Nature Conservancy plans to do a complete ecological inventory next spring to see what else is on the island.

There was a concern about possible cottage development on the island but now with the purchase Maher said, "It will remain in a natural state in perpetuity."

Like other properties owned by the Nature Conservancy, Maher said the island will be open to the public but he added people should be in good shape to tackle the the rough hiking trails on Caribou Island.

A few years ago the NCC acquired an island archipelago off the coast of Rossport, and they acquired a few more islands last year. Maher said they also have their eye on a few more pieces of property in the Thunder Bay area.


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