Landowners donate properties to Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust

Ontario landowners have donated 404 acres of property to the Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust, ensuring the protection of parts of the moraine in the future.

“We are thrilled that these donors trusted us to protect these long-loved properties for endless generations to come,” states a news release from the Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust.

The Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust is a registered charitable organization formed in 2000 by citizens interested in protecting and conserving the moraine.

In Otonabee-South Monaghan Township, 3 1/2 kilometres north of the Oak Ridges Moraine eastern border, two neighbouring properties — one from an eighth-generation owner — of combined 200 acres have been donated through a conservation easement agreement.

This type of agreement allows the landowner to continue to own the property, but is ensured it will be protected from development.

“While the surrounding areas are facing pressure to develop, these properties exist as a reminder of the area’s natural beauty. Within the tall woodlands, marsh wetlands, and open fields, the local wildlife can find a home,” the release said.

The wetlands on these properties are attached to Squirrel Creek’s provincially significant wetlands and home to riparian species at risk, like the uniquely striped northern map turtle, according to the group.

The properties’ geological features are also distinct. The two drumlins on the properties were formed 12,000 years ago resulting in elongated hills specific to the size, speed, and direction of the glacier that formed them.

A property of 204 acres in Durham Region within the natural core area of the Oak Ridges Moraine has also been acquired through a conservation easement agreement donation.

Previously cleared for agriculture years ago, the sandy soils unsuitable for farming on this property led to the fully forested habitat it is today and it is an important local habitat for the eastern wood-pewee or the cerulean warbler. It’s also home to a total of 23 at-risk species.

In addition to providing habitat, the natural features of this property are responsible for facilitating base flow and absorption of snow melt and storm runoff into Scugog Lake.

“This property is abundant and generous with the ecological services it provides us,” the release states.

The Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust ensures significant moraine, greenbelt and Simcoe properties are protected for future generations through agreements with landowners, protection of lands and ongoing stewardship. To date, the trust has secured more than 5,039 acres of land on 65 properties.

Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.

Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner