Little McCoy Island, owned since 1959 by the McCoy family, is now a Georgian Bay Land Trust (GBLT) property that will be protected forever, thanks to help from the Nature Conservancy of Canada, the Pointe au Baril community, and the McCoy family. The 37-acre island is part of the Mink and McCoy group of outer islands spanning over twelve kilometers between the communities of West Carling and Pointe au Baril. The entire group encompasses more than 70 islands, at least 30 of which are part of the McCoy group located at the north end. Assemblages of outer islands such as this are examples of archipelagos within the larger archipelago, and in this case the first interface between the open water to the west and the broken islands and coastline of eastern Georgian Bay.
Little McCoy provides an important stopover site for birds migrating along the Georgian Bay coastal flyway, and supports several rare reptile species including three nationally threatened species, the Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake, Eastern Foxsnake and Blanding’s turtle. This habitat is also ideal for other species at risk, and may support such species as the Map turtle and Spotted turtle. The combination of coastal wetlands with interior bog, exposed rock barrens and sheltered pockets of shrubs and trees provide an ideal set of habitats for a variety of fauna.
In addition to the environmental significance of the property, the McCoy Islands, and Little McCoy in particular, have long been a destination for people seeking the Georgian Bay experience. Its generous and flat topography makes it ideal for walking and exploring, for swimming and kayaking around its detailed perimeter. Its distance from shore gives it the real sense of big water remoteness and solitude that is the essence of Georgian Bay.
The GBLT and all the individuals and partners that made this project possible share the satisfaction of knowing that future generations will take part in the same breathtaking experiences that we are able to have today when visiting this island and the rest of Georgian Bay. “The magnitude and urgency for conservation action in Canada requires us to develop strong partnerships to work towards a common goal. We are proud to work with the Georgian Bay Land Trust, through the Government of Canada’s Natural Areas Conservation Program, to achieve tangible results in the protection of our natural heritage,” said James Duncan, regional vice president, Ontario, for the Nature Conservancy of Canada.
On Saturday, July 13th, the GBLT will celebrate the permanent protection of Little McCoy with a picnic and nature walk. Bring your bathing suit, a shore lunch and come spend the afternoon enjoying the island. Learn more about the celebration and the Georgian Bay Land Trust at www.gblt.org.