Recent Media Coverage

Local area conservation partners launch new campaign to acquire Gananoque River properties

St. Lawrence EMC

November 10, 2011

EMC News

"The Crank" is a beautiful area where the Gananoque River narrows through rock walls, forming cliffs of pink granite that make one feel at once overpowered by yet intimate with nature. It's like a mini Grand Canyon. Seven local conservation organizations have joined forces to ensure it stays that way forever. They are attempting to raise $168,000 in a public campaign towards the purchase of the "Crank" and another spectacular property on the Gananoque River.

Bonnie Mabee, President of the Gananoque River Waterways Association, stated in an interview that "the "Crank" consists of 150 acres and includes approximately 3.8 km of shoreline on both shores of the Gananoque River. It is the shape of the bend in the river that looks like a crank", she added. The "Crank" features a wide diversity of habitats, including exposed rock shorelines, marsh shoreline and wetland, bare rock ridges, and mature mixed upland and lowland deciduous forests. Once purchased, the property would be owned and managed by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC).

The second property, to be known as the Summerfield Tract, is a 223 acre property located next to Ontario Nature's Lost Bay Nature Reserve. Local area resident and motivating force behind the development of the Lost Bay Reserve, Cameron Smith, stated that "When secured, it will nearly double the size of that Reserve". An expanded Reserve would protect provincially significant wetlands along the shoreline at the bottom of Lost Bay on the Gananoque. The property, containing extensive wetlands and species at risk habitat, would be owned and managed by Ontario Nature.

The NCC and Ontario Nature are able to match private donations with funds from an innovative conservation program designed in partnership with the federal government. Thanks to this conservation program, the NCC and Ontario Nature have been able to raise all but $168,000 of the total cost of the two properties of $765,000. The final $168,000 must be raised in order to secure the government funding. That is where the local partnership comes in.

The Thousand Islands Watershed Land Trust, in collaboration with the Gananoque River Waterways Association, the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Network, the Leeds-Grenville Stewardship Council, the Algonquin to Adirondacks Conservation Association, the Charleston Lake Association, and the Cataraqui Region Conservation Association has organized a local campaign to raise the remaining $168,000. With advance pledges and commitments, the group has managed to raise over half of that amount to date. At the time of the public launch, they are looking to raise $80,000 before the campaign closes on Dec. 31, 2011.

President of the TIWLT, Dann Michols, noted that total land involved in the purchase was about 400 acres. He said, "If 400 people contributed $200 each we would meet our target and have sufficient funds to cover some of our stewardship costs into the future". He also said that anyone interested in contributing to this campaign is invited to contact him at the Thousand Islands Watershed Land Trust (dann@tiwlt.ca) for details. Arrangements have even been made for American donors to receive an American tax receipt.

Don Ross, Executive Director of the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Network, explained the uniqueness of the two properties which are the target of this campaign. "They form significant pieces of the Frontenac Arch", he said. The Arch is a corridor of Precambrian Shield that connects the Algonquin Highlands of eastern Ontario with the Adirondack Mountains of upper New York. It is characterized by rugged granite and marble ridges, often heavily forested, alternating with deep valleys. This fractured landscape produces blocked drainages resulting in many lakes and a diverse system of wetlands, including swamps, marshes, beaver ponds and bogs. The Arch is an area of significant ecological overlap between southern forests and northern boreal and mixed forest systems. As a result, this is one of the most biologically diverse areas in Ontario, particularly rich in bird, reptile and plant species. In 2002 the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated a significant portion of the Arch as a UNESCO Biosphere, one of only fifteen in Canada.

"The two properties, together with the Sheffield property purchased in 2010, fall perfectly within the conservation strategy being developing by the partnership", explained Martin Streit, Coordinator of the Leeds-Grenville Stewardship Council. The aim is to build land and water connections between Charleston Lake Provincial Park, Frontenac Provincial Park on the Arch, and the St. Lawrence River, an area that already includes the Queen's Biological Station and the St. Lawrence Islands National Park. Habitat connectivity is essential to the survival of many animals as they hunt for prey and search for mates. In addition, many species of migratory birds use the Frontenac Arch as habitat linkage on their annual migrations.

Emily Conger, President of the A2A Conservation Association, "stated that maintaining habitat connectivity is critical for wildlife survival". The development of once untouched areas has caused the fragmentation of habitats, splitting and isolating populations. Small, fragmented habitat patches are less likely to have the resources necessary to support healthy populations of wildlife. Like small islands in the ocean, isolated habitats typically support very few species and populations are at greater risk of local extinction by disturbances such as extreme weather events or disease. The Frontenac Arch is an important example of a habitat connection at large scale that is must be protected and maintained.

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