Meaford couple's love of trees inspires 50-acre forest overlooking Georgian Bay

Bill & Mabel Almond Announced as Trees Ontario's Latest Green Leaders

MEAFORD, ON, Nov. 27, 2013 /CNW/ - In Bill Almond's opinion, reforesting approximately 50 acres of his 180-acre Meaford, Ont., property with 31,550 new trees was just "something small" he wanted to do for the environment.

Of course, to others, including Anne Lennox, a family friend and a forestry coordinator with Grey Sauble Conservation Authority, this was anything but a minor gesture. In fact, Lennox was the one who nominated Bill and his wife, Mabel, as Trees Ontario's latest Green Leaders. The program recognizes private landowners whose stewardship efforts have significantly contributed to enhancing forest cover in the province. 

The Almonds have lived on the farm for almost 50 years and used it to make a living raising and selling cattle. While they've scaled back in recent years, approximately 100 acres is still used as pasture. Recognizing they had a lot of marginal land on their property, the couple turned to Lennox for guidance on undertaking an extensive tree planting project. In 2012, after being approved for the Ontario government's 50 Million Program (50 MTP), administered by Trees Ontario, the couple worked with Grey Sauble to prepare and coordinate the planting.

The Almonds have always loved trees and wanted to prevent any development on their land, which sits on a high point overlooking Meaford, Georgian Bay and the Blue Mountain area.

"I want to thank the Almonds for demonstrating exceptional commitment to the environment through their participation in the 50 Million Tree Program," noted Rob Keen, CEO of Trees Ontario. "Their efforts and appreciation of trees and forest management have made a positive impact in helping us reach our goal of planting 50 million trees by 2025."

In fact, an affinity for the outdoors and forests is something that was inherited by the couple's daughter Jane, who sadly passed away a few years ago due to cancer. Jane, a trained biologist with a PhD, actually worked as a summer intern tree planting with Lennox in 1985-1988.

To commemorate Jane's memory, the Almonds have a memorial rock with a plaque that sits in her favourite place on the property, a provincially significant area (part of Workman's Creek). The inscription touchingly states it is a dedication to "Jane's Creek." Lennox, who considered Jane a close friend, noted the beauty of "'Jane's Creek' - on top of a hill, exposed with winds coming off the [Nottawasaga] Bay."

"She spent a lot of time out here," explained Bill, adding that Jane also loved to travel and visited many places around the world, including Uganda. He also likes that the trees in this area muffle the noise of traffic on the highway, making it a truly peaceful place.

"Planting trees is something everyone can do to help fight climate change. By taking a leading role in the 50 Million Tree Program, the Almonds are helping preserve the environment for future generations," said David Orazietti, Minister of Natural Resources.

Bill and Mabel look forward to seeing their forest continue to grow with ongoing assistance from Grey Sauble Conservation (site visits and survival assessments are conducted periodically to ensure the future success of their forest). In the meantime, the Almonds have a lofty collection of about 20 different tree species growing just outside their front window. These were hand planted by Mabel in the 1980s and are just one more testament to the Almonds' admirable conservationism.

For more information about the 50 Million Tree Program and other tree planting programs, as well as local tree planting workshops, visit: http://www.treesontario.ca/programs/#50MILL

About 50 Million Tree Program (50MTP)

Trees Ontario administers the Ontario government's 50 Million Tree Program, part of the United Nations Billion Tree Campaign. The United Nations' goal is to plant one billion trees worldwide each year. Ontario is committed to plant 50 million trees by 2025.

The goals of the program are to sequester carbon, enhance and diversify southern Ontario's landscape, increase the capacity to withstand climate change, and increase wildlife habitat. The 50 Million Tree Program is designed to significantly reduce the costs to landowners of large-scale tree planting and thereby increase the number of trees planted across the province.

About Trees Ontario

Trees Ontario is a not-for-profit organization committed to the re-greening of Ontario through tree planting efforts on rural lands and in urban areas. Since 2004, Trees Ontario and its 65 provincial partners have planted more than 13 million trees across the province. 

Image with caption: "Bill and Mabel Almond of Meaford, Ont., are Trees Ontario's latest Green Leaders. The couple planted nearly 32,000 new trees on part of their 180-acre property through the government of Ontario's 50 Million Tree Program. (CNW Group/Trees Ontario)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20131127_C9976_PHOTO_EN_33737.jpg

SOURCE: Trees Ontario

For further information:

For more information, photos or to arrange an interview please contact: 

Shelley McKay     
Director of Communications & Development
Trees Ontario
144 Front Street West, Suite 700
Toronto, ON, M5J 2L7
e: smckay@treesontario.ca
p: 416-646-1193 ext. 232

Ann-Marie Colacino 
Communications Officer
Trees Ontario
144 Front Street West, Suite 700
Toronto, ON, M5J 2L7
e: acolacino@treesontario.ca
p: 416-646-1193 ext. 234

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