Species Protection Can Be Good Business

On June 23, the National Post carried a story detailing how Catherine McKenna, federal minister of environment and climate change, used her powers to stop part of a subdivision development near Montreal. The reason: to protect breeding habitat of the western chorus frog. This frog is a very common seasonal resident in prime subdivision habitat in our area. Should developers worry?

Before the first house went up at Mill Run in Almonte, I notified our planner, Stephen Stirling, that the seasonal ponds there were full of chorus frogs. The frog does not have provincial protection, and, back then, the Harper government had largely shelved federal species protection legislation.

We were on our own.

In a fine example of partnership, Mr. Stirling and I worked out mitigation with the Mill Run developer, Regional Group. The storm water pond will provide substitute breeding area. We will leave semi-wild the park next to the pond to provide cover during spring frog migration.

The only drawback is that the main pond will hold water all year. If someone releases fish into it, that is game over for the chorus frog tadpoles. Knowing this, Mr. Stirling and I negotiated an agreement to create a large depression beside the pond that would dry up in the summer: thus, no fish and good tadpole habitat. Chorus frog tadpoles mature to froglets quickly, usually before the spring ponds dry up.

The chorus frog is still plentiful in our area; so, developers in Mississippi Mills, Carleton Place and Beckwith may not feel the long arm of Ms. McKenna, yet. Still, it does not hurt to work together to mitigate negative impacts on threatened species. A homegrown solution often beats one imposed from above.

Chorus Frog Info

Most people (myself included) rarely see this tiny amphibian. But, its spring mating call is easy to detect from mid-April to early May. People describe the song as sounding like running a fingernail along a comb. You can get info on this frog and a voice recording here.

Read the NP story here.