Muskoka Conservancy is proud to announce that it has purchased a 597-acre property in southeast Gravenhurst, the latest acquisition in its mission to advance nature conservation in Muskoka.
“We could not have done this without excellent donors and funding partners,” said Scott Young of Muskoka Conservancy. “The previous owners each made a significant donation of land, without which, frankly, we would have had a challenge building the momentum to see this through. I’d like to thank Alan Young, Brad Ford, Don Scott, William Fitchet, and Gerard Newman for their generous gifts.”
“As it worked out, we are extremely happy and grateful to have attracted excellent funding partners to complete the purchase. We owe many thanks to the Maple Cross fund, the Kenneth M Molson Foundation.”
Funding support was also provided by Environment and Climate Change Canada’s (ECCC) Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund (NSCSF) to the Ontario Land Trust Alliance and its partners, including Muskoka Conservancy. The program supports nature-based projects that promote carbon storage and capture while providing important habitat for species at risk and/or species of cultural and local importance. Additional funding was provided by The Greenlands Conservation Partnership. The Greenlands Conservation Partnership helps conserve ecologically important natural areas and protect wetlands, grasslands, and forests that help mitigate the effects of climate change. Through the Greenlands Conservation Partnership, a total of $38 million has been invested to date by the Ontario government. Additional matching funds have been raised from other sources, such as individual donations and foundation support through the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Ontario Land Trust Alliance, and other levels of government.
MC’s new conservation land borders on the Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands Provincial Park. It features mature mixed forests, rock barrens, wetlands, and a small lake. The property is a former hunt camp that has several kilometers of trails, some of which extend into Crown Land and the neighbouring Provincial Park.
“Protecting more natural areas, including this property near the Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands Provincial Park, will increase recreational opportunities for the public,” said Andrea Khanjin, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. “Partnering with conservation leaders like the Ontario Land Trust Alliance and its members, including Muskoka Conservancy, has allowed us to expand conservation in Ontario. Since 2020, our collaborative efforts, through the Greenlands Conservation Partnership, has resulted in the protection of 420,000 acres of environmentally sensitive land – equivalent to more than two and a half times the size of the City of Toronto.”
“Muskoka Conservancy’s immediate priority is to get to know the land, its ecosystems, habitat types and species,” says Young. “Based on that, we will develop a conservation plan that prioritizes nature conservation. In the not-too-distant future we would like very much to offer this new reserve as a hiking destination for nature lovers.”
MC plans to explore the potential uses of the land for nature education programming, bird watching, nature photography, and recreational activities like hiking and snowshoeing.
“This is a unique and significant property with habitat for several known species at risk,” says Amanda Porter, MC’s Conservation Coordinator. “We expect to find Blanding’s turtle, Eastern Hog-nosed snake, and several bird species that are endangered or at risk. Our conservation planning will have to take these factors into consideration. It’s a nature reserve first and foremost.”This latest addition becomes MC’s largest nature reserve, surpassing the 419-acre Bear Cave-Koeitz Nature Reserve north of Lake Rosseau. MC’s protected lands now total 4,597 acres, with almost 70,000 feet of natural shoreline, and 700 acres of wetlands. MC as 53 properties across Muskoka.
“We are over the moon with joy that we were able to find the partners and resources to make this project a reality,” said Bob Weekes, Conservancy Board Chair.
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