Discover Renfrew County's Many Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves
One of Renfrew County's best kept secrets are its 27 provincial parks and conservation reserves. Only two (Bonnechere and Driftwood) are Recreation Class parks with staff at visitor centres, camping facilities, regularly maintained trails, and other visitor amenities. The other 25 occupy small areas of crown land, ranging in size from 30 hectares to just over 2000 ha. Many have been given special conservation status in light of their unique biological and geological features. Others protect portions of significant Ottawa Valley waterways (Barron River, Bissett Creek, Bonnechere River, Grant’s Creek, Lower Madawaska River, and the Ottawa River itself). As of November 2012, these 27 protected areas total 16,157 ha (about 2.2% of the County’s area of 744,081 ha).
Many of these Parks and Conservation Areas connect almost seamlessly with Algonquin Provincial Park. At 765,345 ha, Algonquin Park is slightly greater in area than Renfrew County and is one of the largest parks in eastern North America and is Ontario’s first provincial park, designated in 1893.
Are established to represent and protect the distinctive natural habitats and landforms of the province. These areas are protected for educational and research purposes. Due to the fragility of many of these natural features, only a few nature reserves are accessible to the public:
Conservation Reserve: A Crown land use designation - a protected area regulated under the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act. Conservation Reserves protect natural heritage values and prohibit industrial uses while allowing a broader range of traditional activities to continue.
Enhanced Management Area (EMA): A Crown land use designation that is used in Crown land use planning to provide more detailed land use direction in areas of special features or values, or where the land use policies for one of the EMA categories supports the land use intent for the area.
Footnote: Ontario Parks system uses a classification system to divide provincial parks into the following categories:
Recreational parks "typically have good beaches, many campgrounds and lots of outdoor recreation opportunities. Most recreation parks provide services that may include toilets and showers, laundromats, interpretive programmes, playgrounds, boat launch facilities, hiking trails and picnic tables."
Historical Class Parks "emphasize the protection of historical and cultural resources, in an outdoor setting."
Natural environment parks "protect the landscapes and special features of the natural region in which they are located, while providing ample opportunities for activities such as swimming and camping."
Nature reserves "are established to represent and protect the distinctive natural habitats and landforms of the province. These areas are protected for educational and research purposes. Due to the fragility of many of these natural features, only a few nature reserves are accessible to the public."
Waterway parks "are river corridors that provide canoeists with high-quality recreation and historical river travel."
Wilderness parks "are large areas left to nature where visitors may travel on foot or by canoe. Offering little if any facilities for visitors, these areas provide the solitude of an undisturbed, natural setting."
Conservation reserves "are protected areas of lands and waters with defined boundaries established under the Public Lands Act, Regulation 805/94 primarily to permanently protect natural heritage features and provide recreation opportunities."