This is an image of the plant Engelmann’s Quillwort

Engelmann’s Quillwort is a plant that grows in shallow water in lakes and rivers. In Ontario, Engelmann’s Quillwort occurs at just two locations, both in the central part of the province (Severn and Gull Rivers). Mechanical damage and herbicide application have had an impact on populations. Other threats may include nutrient enrichment, unusual fluctuating water levels, invasive species, predators, erosion and competition from other species.

Protecting and recovering species at risk in Ontario

Species at risk recovery is a key part of protecting Ontario’s biodiversity. Biodiversity – the variety of living organisms on Earth – provides us with clean air and water, food, fibre, medicine and other resources that we need to survive.

The Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA) is the Government of Ontario’s legislative commitment to protecting and recovering species at risk and their habitats. As soon as a species is listed as extirpated, endangered or threatened under the ESA, it is automatically protected from harm or harassment. Also, immediately upon listing, the habitats of endangered and threatened species are protected from damage or destruction.

Under the ESA, the Ministry of Natural Resources (the Ministry) must ensure that a recovery strategy is prepared for each species that is listed as endangered or threatened. A recovery strategy provides science-based advice to government on what is required to achieve recovery of a species.

Government response statements

Within nine months after a recovery strategy is prepared, the ESA requires the Ministry to publish a statement summarizing the government’s intended actions and priorities in response to the recovery strategy. The recovery strategy for Engelmann’s Quillwort was completed on February 18, 2010.

The response statement is the government’s policy response to the scientific advice provided in the recovery strategy. In addition to the strategy, the response statement is based on input from stakeholders, other jurisdictions, Aboriginal communities and members of the public. It reflects the best available traditional, local and scientific knowledge at this time and may be adapted if new information becomes available. In implementing the actions in the response statement, the ESA allows the Ministry to determine what is feasible, taking into account social and economic factors.

Moving forward to protect and recover Engelmann’s Quillwort

The Engelmann’s Quillwort is listed as an endangered species under the ESA which protects both the plant and its habitat. The Government of Ontario has demonstrated its commitment to protecting the Engelmann’s Quillwort by prescribing its specific habitat in regulation. The ESA prohibits any damage or destruction of that habitat without authorization. Such authorization would require that conditions established by the Ministry of Natural Resources be met.

The government’s goal for the recovery of the Engelmann’s Quillwort is to ensure the sustainability of the populations on the Severn and Gull Rivers.

Protecting and recovering species at risk is a shared responsibility. No single agency or organization has the knowledge, authority, or financial resources to protect and recover all of Ontario’s species at risk. Successful recovery requires inter-governmental co-operation and the involvement of many individuals, organizations and communities.

In developing the government response statement, the Ministry considered what actions are feasible for the government to lead directly, and what actions are feasible for the government to support its conservation partners to undertake.

Government-led actions

To help protect and recover Engelmann’s Quillwort, the government will directly undertake the following actions:

  • Educate other agencies and planning authorities on the requirement to consider the protection of the Engelmann’s Quillwort and its habitat in planning activities and environmental assessment processes.
  • Encourage the submission of Engelmann’s Quillwort data to the Ministry of Natural Resources' central repository at the Natural Heritage Information Centre.
  • Undertake communications and outreach to increase public awareness of species at risk in Ontario.
  • Protect the Engelmann’s Quillwort through the ESA and enforce the regulation protecting the specific habitat of the species.
  • Support conservation, agency, municipal and industry partners to undertake activities to protect and recover Engelmann’s Support will be provided through funding, agreements, permits (including conditions) and advisory services.
  • Establish and communicate annual priority actions for government support in order to encourage collaboration and reduce duplication of efforts.

Government-supported actions

As the current populations of this species occur almost entirely in areas under federal jurisdiction, the Government of Ontario will work collaboratively with its federal partners and others to protect Engelmann’s Quillwort.

The government endorses the following actions as being necessary for the protection and recovery of the Engelmann’s Quillwort. Actions which are noted as "high" will be given priority consideration for funding or for authorizations under the ESA. The government will focus its support on these high priority actions over the next five years.

Focus area: Threat management


Improve understanding of the extent of each threat to Engelmann’s Quillwort and establish threat-specific mitigation techniques.


  1. (High) Identify factors negatively impacting populations and research and implement mitigation measures where necessary.

Focus area: Awareness


Increase public awareness and promote stewardship of Engelmann’s

Quillwort and its habitat in Ontario.


  1. Develop communication products and tools to engage the public in stewardship activities for Engelmann’s Quillwort.

Focus area: Monitoring


Improve understanding of population size and distribution, population viability, and genetic affinity to other populations.


  1. Identify priority sites for long-term monitoring.
  2. Implement a long-term monitoring program at priority sites to determine population trends.

Implementing actions

Financial support for the implementation of actions may be available through the Species at Risk Stewardship Fund, Species at Risk Farm Incentive Program, or Community Fisheries and Wildlife Involvement Program. Conservation partners are encouraged to discuss project proposals related to the actions in this response statement with the Ministry of Natural Resources. The Ministry can also advise whether any authorizations under the ESA or other legislation may be required for undertaking the project.

Implementation of the actions may be subject to changing priorities across the multitude of species at risk, available resources and the capacity of partners to undertake recovery activities. Where appropriate, the implementation of actions for multiple species will be co-ordinated across government response statements.

Reviewing progress

The ESA requires the Ministry to conduct a review of progress towards protecting and recovering a species not later than five years from the publication of this response statement. The review will help identify whether adjustments are needed to achieve the protection and recovery of the Engelmann’s Quillwort.


We would like to thank everyone who participated in the development of the "Recovery Strategy for the Engelmann’s Quillwort in Ontario" for their dedication to protecting and recovering species at risk.