Target 135-acre property west of Ostrander Point
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) kicked off a $1.2-million fundraising campaign earlier this month in order to protect an additional 135 acres of land on the county’s south shore.
Mark Stabb, the NCC’s Central Ontario-East program director, told the Gazette a willing landowner is prepared to sell the parcel of land to the west of the 800-acre Ostrander Point Crown Land Block for preservation.
That move follows recent efforts by the NCC and Hastings-Prince Edward Land Trust to buy lands to the east of the Crown land, including the 490-acre Miller Family Nature Reserve and the NCC’s 76-acre Hudgins-Rose property.
According to Stabb, the NCC has been interested in preserving the south shore because it represents some of the last undeveloped natural areas along Lake Ontario’s northern shoreline. Stabb said less than a third of the county’s coastal wetlands have been lost, compared to as much as three-quarters of that land in other parts of southern Ontario.
“The south shore is rich in wetlands, grasslands, forest, and wild shoreline,” Stabb said. “It features large natural areas that are connected and not really broken up too much by development. That’s what makes the south shore really special.”
In particular, the property of interest is in the South Shore Important Bird and Biodiversity Area and it also includes 40 acres of rare coastal wetland, which is part of the provincially significant South Bay Coastal Wetland. Stabb said a rare habitat for migratory birds, turtles, frogs and fish is located there due to a barrier beach that runs along the shoreline, providing shelter and containing some water to its north. Among species-at-risk there include the Blanding’s turtle and a number of bat species like the little brown myotis, the big brown bat, board bat, and migratory silver-haired bat and eastern red bat.
Stabb said the lands could also be critical for grassland birds. Should the bid be successful, the NCC would develop a stewardship plan to ensure ecosystems continue to thrive. In that plan, however, Stabb said public access will be considered.
“Almost all of our NCC land is open for pedestrian access. We have trails on most of our properties — but it is a limited number. Our first priority is looking after biodiversity,” he said. “The property management plan we develop, hopefully once we’ve acquired the land, includes monitoring, habitat restoration and a study of access and where trails can be identified as long as it doesn’t interfere with the wildlife in that area.”
Stabb said with the issue of carbon change, it is also becoming clear that in addition to the wildlife benefits of land preservation, humankind can also be served by the preservation of plant life due to its carbon-sequestering properties.
The funds to be raised will pay for the purchase of the land based on an independent appraisal of fair market value, including appraisal, surveying and legal costs as well as an investment in a stewardship endowment fund for long-term management of NCC properties across the province.
A deadline of this fall has been set before the property’s current owners attempt to sell it on the open market.Those interested in contributing can visit the NCC web site at nature conservancy.ca/donate or mail a cheque to Nature Conservancy of Canada, 410-245 Eglinton Ave E, Toronto, Ont. M4P 3J1. Those sending cheques should include “Eastern Lake Ontario Coast Natural Area” in the memo portion. Tax receipts are available.