Natural Spaces Program Protects Heritage Lands in Durham Region



    TORONTO, June 24 /CNW/ - Today, The Honourable Lincoln M. Alexander,
Chairman of the Ontario Heritage Trust, David Ramsay, Minister of Natural
Resources, and Caroline Di Cocco, Minister of Culture, announced two property
acquisitions in Durham Region under Ontario's Natural Spaces Program. The
properties - located in the Township of Brock - were acquired in partnership
with Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority and are part of the Beaver
River Wetland Complex.
    "The Natural Spaces Program is helping to protect Ontario's
environmentally significant natural heritage lands for the benefit of future
generations," said Mr. Alexander. "Acquiring these properties will help to
keep this large wetland area relatively intact and ensure that its natural
heritage features are conserved."
    The securement of the Lacey and Norrie properties will contribute
25 hectares (62 acres) to the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority's
Beaver River Conservation Area. The Lacey property features 15 hectares (37
acres) of marsh, swamp and cultural thicket. The Norrie property consists of
10 hectares (25 acres) of mixed forest and swamp. The properties will be
protected through ownership and stewardship by Lake Simcoe Region Conservation
Authority and conservation easements held by the Ontario Heritage Trust.
    "The Beaver River Wetland Complex is one of the most environmentally
significant areas in Lake Simcoe's watershed," said Virginia Hackson, Chair of
Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority. "We have acquired a number of
properties throughout this wetland complex thanks to the generous gift of
Katharine Symons, in memory of her brother Lieutenant Douglas Bond Symons, as
well as funding support from the Ontario Heritage Trust. We can now protect
these wetlands so they can continue to improve water quality, provide habitat
for wildlife, and offer recreational opportunities for our watershed's
residents and visitors."
    The Natural Spaces Program helps landowners voluntarily contribute to the
stewardship of Ontario's rich natural heritage. The program covers all of
southern Ontario below the Canadian Shield. While 90 per cent of the land in
this area is privately owned, it also harbours the province's greatest
diversity of plants and animals.
    "These properties are situated within the Beaver River Provincially
Significant Wetland and Environmentally Significant Area, and are part of the
Greenbelt's Protected Countryside and Natural Heritage System," said Minister
Ramsay. "Through the Natural Spaces Program, we are ensuring that they will be
protected for the benefit of all Ontarians."
    As part of the Natural Spaces Program, the Ministry of Natural Resources
granted $6 million to the Ontario Heritage Trust to acquire and secure
significant natural heritage properties. The Trust used the funding to
establish the Natural Spaces Land Acquisition and Stewardship Program. Under
this program, the Trust has approved 47 applications submitted by conservation
partners, representing 1,566 hectares (3,870 acres) of land across southern
Ontario, with a total property value of approximately $9.6 million.
    "We are pleased to be working in partnership with the Ministry of Natural
Resources and conservation partners, such as Lake Simcoe Region Conservation
Authority, to conserve the natural heritage of the province," said Minister Di
Cocco. "Natural spaces are part of Ontario's rich and diverse heritage."
    Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority contributed half of the funds
required to purchase the two properties in Durham Region. As part of today's
announcement, a commemorative cairn was unveiled in memory of Lieutenant
Symons.

    The Ontario Heritage Trust - the province's lead heritage agency - is
dedicated to identifying, preserving, protecting and promoting Ontario's
built, cultural and natural heritage for the benefit of present and future
generations.

    
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For further information:

For further information: Catrina Colme, Marketing and Communications
Coordinator, Ontario Heritage Trust, Telephone: (416) 325-5074, E-mail:
catrina.colme@heritagetrust.on.ca


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