Natural heritage lands protected in Simcoe County

TORONTO, Nov. 12 /CNW/ - Today, The Honourable Lincoln M. Alexander, Chairman of the Ontario Heritage Trust, Donna Cansfield, Minister of Natural Resources, and Aileen Carroll, Minister of Culture, announced a property acquisition to protect significant natural heritage land in Simcoe County.

"Natural heritage is part of Ontario's rich and varied legacy," said Mr. Alexander. "Protecting significant heritage lands ensures that future generations will have the opportunity to experience the beauty of our unique natural spaces."

Located in Washago, north of Orillia, and abutting Boyd's Creek, the 43- hectare (106-acre) property complements and expands the adjacent Alexander Hope Smith Nature Reserve immediately to the south. The property was acquired in partnership with The Couchiching Conservancy through the Ontario Heritage Trust's Natural Spaces Land Acquisition and Stewardship Program.

"Through this program, we are working with landowners and conservation partners to protect ecologically sensitive lands," said Minister Cansfield. "Preserving Ontario's greenspaces protects biodiversity, contributes to a healthy environment and helps fight climate change."

The property contains a mosaic of riparian habitats along Boyd's Creek, rock barrens with scattered pine and oak, linear watercourses and wetlands located in rock depressions, a diversity of wetland types, mixed pine and hardwood forests and regenerating abandoned fields. It is located within an ecological transition zone along the southern edge of the Canadian Shield. The acquisition of this property will protect biodiversity, as well as support non-motorized recreational trail development and source water protection.

"The Natural Spaces Land Acquisition and Stewardship Program supports the protection of natural lands across the province," said Minister Carroll. "Conserving heritage lands preserves our diverse natural landscape and improves the quality of life for all Ontarians."

Nearly half of the funding for the acquisition of this property was provided through the Natural Spaces Land Acquisition and Stewardship Program. The program supports the acquisition of natural heritage lands, which the Ontario Heritage Trust may hold directly or protect through natural heritage conservation easements. The program also supports land stewardship activities on newly acquired lands.

"The Alexander Hope Smith Nature Reserve provides a wonderful natural linkage between undeveloped Crown land in the east and the Severn River corridor to the west," said Mark Bisset, Executive Director of The Couchiching Conservancy, which will steward the property in partnership with the Ontario Heritage Trust. "We're very grateful to both the Ontario Heritage Trust and our other partners for making it possible to double the size of this important reserve."

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

    Quick facts:

    -  The Ontario Heritage Trust began implementing the Natural Spaces Land
       Acquisition and Stewardship Program in 2006 with a $6-million grant
       from the Ministry of Natural Resources.

    -  The program covers southern Ontario, where 90 per cent of the land is
       privately owned.

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SOURCE Ontario Heritage Trust

For further information: For further information: Catrina Colme, Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Ontario Heritage Trust, Telephone: (416) 325-5074, E-mail:

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