THE SECOND FIVE YEARS: 2008-2012
A Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust 20th Anniversary Special
By: Mary Vandenhoff, with input from other founding members of MMLT
Note: This is a multi-part series. To read Mary’s first piece on MMLT’s Birth and the First Five Years, please click here.
After operating for the first five years without any staff, in 2008 the Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust Conservancy (MMLTC, as it was known then) received a $25,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to support a program assistant. Following a competition, Susan Sentesy joined the MMLTC family, sharing space with the Stewardship Council in Perth. Many advantages came from this partnership arrangement, a significant added benefit being the availability of mapping support. That year MMLTC also received a $1000 grant from both the Lanark Stewardship Council and Randall’s Paints. MMLTC adopted a logo and the first spring walk to the top of Blueberry Mountain drew 135 enthusiastic visitors.
2009 was a landmark year as MMLTC acquired its first protected land, signing a Conservation Easement Agreement with the Clifford family thus protecting this 1250 acre property in perpetuity. We thrust ourselves into a unique leadership role by becoming the first land trust to accept a covenant mandating public access in the Clifford family Conservation Easement. This proved prescient as statistics now reveal that 80% of Canadian children live in urban areas, spending 90% of their time indoors. The results have been crippling physical, emotional, and cognitive problems. Conversely, nature improves almost all physical, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual parameters. By agreeing to include this covenant in the Conservation Easement, MMLTC ensured a meaningful contribution of true nature therapy to the community. Application to the federal EcoGift program was successful, providing enhanced protection to the land. The spring walk at Blueberry Mountain brought in an impressive $1476. Discussions soon began with Carolyn Canfield regarding a potential MMLTC Conservation Easement on her Carp property.
2010 was a year to focus on the organization with the support of a $10,000 HIVA grant for additional program assistant days plus some related office expenses (HIVA was a family foundation that worked through the Ontario Land Trust Alliance.) A Records Policy and Confidentiality Policy were adopted. As part of an OLTA/Community Foundations of Canada initiative, MMLTC signed an agreement with the Ottawa Community Foundation to establish a Permanent Endowment, an important element to help ensure long term financial sustainability, in line with MMLTC’s long term legal obligations. This move coincided with an increasing awareness within the land trust community of the critical importance of building an endowment with each acquisition to ensure its long term protection. Discussions began regarding the protection of the Spicer property in the Pakenham Hills. Continued efforts to fundraise included a successful Canada Day Ceilidh and Nature Appreciation with a special Star Gazing feature at Donna Davidson’s Glengyle Farm.
MMLTC became a landowner in 2011 as sisters Bethany Armstrong and Charlene Bernhardt donated a 100 acre property near Denbigh, to be known as Rose Hill Nature Reserve. This donation led several years later to the donation by the Hatton family of 258 acres of adjacent land thus expanding Rose Hill Nature Reserve to be a significant natural asset. MMLTC recognized the need for and adopted a Land Protection Strategy and received a Shell Environmental Fund grant of $10,000 for Natural Heritage Mapping to support that strategy. Preliminary discussions took place with Cathy and Paul Keddy to pursue their interest in placing a Conservation Easement on their land.
In 2012, MMLTC continued to grow when it received the donation of the 200 acre property now known as High Lonesome Nature Reserve from the family of Barry Spicer. Barry’s brother Ken had actively stewarded this land, with photographic and scientific documentation (often supplemented with poetic descriptions) of the flora and fauna found there. Ken was an avid reader of Louis L’Amour novels and felt that the High Lonesome name that often recurred in those books reflected well the feeling this property elicited. MMLTC agreed and officially adopted that name for the nature reserve. Ken had also developed (and continued to maintain for many years) 8 kilometers of trails winding through the woods, by ponds and streams and through meadows, offering varied and interesting experiences to all visitors. Mountain Equipment Co-op supported MMTLC with $13,100 funding support for the immediate acquisition costs. In June, a very successful and enjoyable BioBlitz resulted in many new taxa added to the biological inventory of that property and a federal Species at Risk (SAR) Stewardship Fund grant of $16,757 paid for SAR research on the High Lonesome and Rose Hill properties. The organization was strengthened through a second $10,000 HIVA grant and further by a $75,000 Ontario Trillium Foundation grant to be spread over three years. That grant targeted fundraising, communications, and volunteer management. Partnership with the Lanark Wild Food group led to them donating the proceeds from their Wild Edibles Dinner to MMLTC. In addition to nature walks at Blueberry Mountain and Rose Hill, an Evening with John Muir (channelled by Howard Clifford) raised funds and awareness. The year-end Gala and Silent Auction with Michael Runtz (net $12,040) was a successful finale to an excellent year.
Stay tuned for more pieces of MMLT’s history following these second five years.