High Lonesome Woodlands Ecosystem Restoration Project

The earliest archives of High Lonesome Nature Reserve tell us that in 1884, William and Mary McWatty and their family settled here. They cleared 50 acres and bought themselves 4 cattle, 4 sheep, 2 horses and 1 hog. Half an acre was garden and orchard.

The property was farmed or logged right up until 1997 when it was purchased by the late Barry (Sam) Spicer who used it only for recreation and nature enjoyment. It was Sam’s wish that the property be protected as a Nature Reserve and when he died suddenly in 2010, his brother Ken made sure his wish was fulfilled by donating the property to the MMLT to be preserved in perpetuity.

Today you will find old fields and grassy meadows where crops were once grown, livestock were pastured and logs were processed. MMLT’s management plan is to proactively restore some of the degraded areas to their natural state.

Two meadows at the front of the property have become habitat for butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies as well as a variety of birds, such as bluebirds and plants that flourish in this habitat. Turtles bask in a nearby sunlit pond. These meadows will be allowed to regenerate naturally over time.

MMLT received two grants to help restore the woodlands at High Lonesome.  In 2013, the Canon Take Root Program, sponsored by Evergreen, provided $5000 in funding for the restoration.

On a sunny October day in 2013, 90 enthusiastic volunteers showed up at High Lonesome for our Go Nuts! Bike it, Hike it, Plant it event. Thanks to Ted Mosquin who provided background on the importance and characteristics of oak and acorns, as well as planting instructions, the many participants, young and old, planted over 1000 native acorns.

Later that fall, a second group of volunteers planted healthy seedlings of 450 Tamarack and 50 each of Sugar Maple, Red Oak, Nannyberry and High Bush Cranberry, all native to the region.

Then, early in 2014, MMLT received a $9,800 grant from the Great Lakes Guardian Community Fund (GLGCF), sponsored by the Ministry of the Environment. This allowed us to plant an additional 3000 native tree seedlings with support from Rideau Valley Conservation Authority and our volunteers.  All plantings were done  without the use of herbicides.

In addition to this, we were also provided with 30 Butternut seedlings by Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA) under their Butternut Recovery Program.

Here’s a list of what we planted with these grants:

High Lonesome Woodlands Recovery Project
White Pine 1100
White Spruce 900
White Birch 300
Sugar Maple 200
Pussy Willow 60
Bur Oak 150
Tamarack 400
Red Oak 50
Nannyberry 50
High Bush Cranberry 50
Red Oak acorns 1000
Butternut 30