History of Tall Grass Prairies and Rice Lake Plains

The Rice Lake Plains, one of the most intriguing areas on the Oak Ridges Moraine, is an area of roughly 100,000 acres (40,469 hectares) located at the eastern end of the moraine, southeast of Peterborough. Historically, The Rice Lake Plains were covered with tall grass prairies and oak savanna, dominated by massive Black and White Oak, where grasses like Big Bluestem, Indian Grass and Switchgrass grew more than two metres high and a diverse range of wildflowers blossomed.
Big Bluestem

Today, the oak savanna and tall grass prairie of the Rice Lake Plains are badly fragmented and overgrown with non-native species. Globally these habitats are rare, and oak savannas are considered among the most endangered ecological communities in North America. Grassland Birds and other rare species, including the Eastern Hog-nosed Snake, depend on this rare habitat to survive.

Fortunately, the stewards of the Rice Lake Plains, including private landowners, Alderville First Nation, conservation groups and governments, have taken care of the land. Pockets of natural prairie and savanna seedbed are still intact. Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is collaborating with private landowners and conservation partners to help restore prairie and savanna in the Rice Lake Plains under the Rice Lake Plains Joint Initiative RLPJI. You can read more about the collaborative's conservation efforts in the RLPJI's publication, the Savanna Sentinel.

Cultural history also abounds on the Rice Lake Plains with links to early pioneer woman and writer Catherine Parr Traill, renowned biologist John Macoun and Canadian poet Archibald Lampman.

History of Tall Grass and Rice Lake Plains

Black Oak Savannah and Rice Lake Plains at NCC

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