(A Great Blue Heron is photographed at the Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust’s newly acquired wetland that the Trust has now protected. The MMLT property is named Blue Heron Wetland. Photographs: MMLT)
The Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust (MMLT) is pleased to announce it has protected a new property in Lanark County – a hidden gem of great ecological significance and home to a diverse range of plant, butterfly, bird, amphibian, reptile, and mammal species, including 16 species at risk. Spanning 106-acres, the nature sanctuary adjoins three other MMLT properties that have been under the protection of the land trust since 2014.
This addition creates a 900-acre contiguous stretch of natural lands near Scotch Corners that will be protected for the benefit of the environment and future generations. The property, known as Blue Heron Wetlands, derives its name from multiple features, including the siting of its namesake on the property, the once known blue heron rookery, the Blue Heron Road that leads to the protected lands, and its wetland, which drains into the Innisville Wetland Complex and the Mississippi Lake National Wildlife Area.
“I cannot overstate the importance of this piece of property to MMLT and our conservation efforts,” notes Stephen Kotze, MMLT president. “Its ecological value and importance for biodiversity were recognized over 10 years ago, and MMLT has been working on acquiring this land ever since. We are thrilled to announce that the lands will now be protected by MMLT forever.”
The acquisition of Blue Heron Wetlands aligns with MMLT’s key priority of acquiring and protecting natural wilderness areas for long-term preservation and community enjoyment. The property is also closely connected to the late Cathy Keddy, a former director who played a key role in MMLT’s accomplishments until her sudden passing in October 2022. It was Cathy who showed a personal interest in this particular piece of land, mainly due to its potential in establishing an ecological corridor with the neighbouring protected properties. In honour of MMLT’s dear friend and colleague, the extensive wetland on this property will be named “Cathy’s Pond”.
Having Blue Heron in our protected property portfolio is a tremendous legacy to Cathy and her husband Paul, a prominent ecologist, conservationist, and published author on the ecological and natural history of Lanark and other regions.
“Protecting habitat through land acquisitions is one of the most important tools MMLT has to help conserve biodiversity and help reduce climate change and environmental challenges,” emphasizes Kotze. “We are making a difference one property at a time.”
MMLT now has 11 properties entrusted to its care, spanning 3,300 acres in the region of the Mississippi River basin, extending north to the Madawaska River. Many of these properties are open to the public to enjoy nature hikes and MMLT events, such as High Lonesome Nature Reserve and Blueberry Mountain at cliffLAND. While Blue Heron Wetlands is not accessible to the public at present, we will soon be working on developing a trail, installing signs and fencing, and constructing a parking lot. Once this work is completed, MMLT will gladly welcome individuals interested in visiting the property to reach out to us and arrange a guided tour.
The acquisition of Blue Heron Wetlands was made possible through generous donations, grants, and support from various sources, including: The Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund Initiative, with federal funds from Environment and Climate Change Canada, and in partnership with Conservation Ontario and the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority; The Greenlands Conservation Partnership Program, with provincial funds from the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, and in partnership with the Ontario Land Trust Alliance; and from private funders including MapleCross, Richard and Louise Schnarr, and many other kind community donations, such as the funds raised by the Backyard Beauties Auction. MMLT extends our heartfelt gratitude to our generous supporters who share our vision and help us achieve our conservation goals.