Wellesley Island Preserve was established in 1995 with the donation of 98 acres around Barnett Creek. An additional 281 acres were acquired in 2014 to bring the Preserve to 380 acres of wetlands on the interior of the Island. These lands contribute to the wildlife corridor across the St. Lawrence that gives "safe passage" to animals traversing from the Adirondack Mountains in eastern New York to Algonquin Park in northern Ontario and back. Wildlife has been tracked on this route across the River, following the unique habitat created by the Frontenac Arch, a geological formation of ancient rock that also forms the 1000 Islands.
The Atlantic Flyway crosses over this region, bringing migrating birds into the area. With conserved wetlands available for stopovers, the Wellesley Island Preserve makes for ideal birdwatching.