Canard Valley Conservation Area grows thanks to public-private partnership

By Joel Charron

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA), Government of Canada and Province of Ontario celebrated the successful addition of 77 acres of land to Canard Valley Conservation Area.

The two properties being added to the conservation area are Sydney Mitchell Woods and Botsford Woods, both located along the shores of the Canard River. The riverbanks forests along the Canard represent the longest stretch of continuous woodlands in Essex County. The conservation of these properties, in an area where remaining natural cover falls below eight per cent of the landmass, will help protect this special habitat where land meets water.

“Our government shares a commitment to protecting Canada’s natural treasures with our partners,” said Essex MP Jeff Watson. “Our goal is to protect more than 2,000 sq/km. In fours years we are more than 60 per cent of the way there.”

As of March 2011, the Natural Areas Conservation Program has protected 160,796 hectares of

Dennis Mitchell, MP Jeff Watson, Amherstburg Mayor Wayne Hurst, Sydney Mitchell, John & Pennie Mitchell, ERCA Chair Percy Hatfield and Wendy Cridland of the Nature Conservancy of Canada gather to celebrate the addition of 77 acres of conservation lands to the Canard Valley Conservation Area.

habitat, which includes habitat for 101 species at risk.

“The Mitchell and Bostford woods areas are ecologically significant areas, that are home to important plant and animal special that are at risk,” said Watson. “These are truly special areas to all the residents in this area.”

Watson also added that Essex County has more plants and animals at risk then anywhere else in Canada.

The conservation effort will also protect significant species including nationally and provincially threatened Kentucky Coffee Tree, and the only known location of a unique, naturally occurring hybrid of Yellow and White Trout Lily.

The Government of Canada’s $225 million Natural Areas Conservation Program is an important on-the-ground initiative that takes real action to preserve Canada’s environment and conserve its natural heritage for present and future generations.

“Both the Sydney Mitchell Woods and the Bostford Woods have significant ecological features. Ensuring their long-term conservation will benefit the regions environmental health,” said  ERCA chair Percy Hatfield.

Hatfield said that this region is the only naturally occurring stand of Kentucky Coffee Trees in Canada and contains the male clones that are required to pollinate the female clones in ERCA’s Canard Valleys Conversation Area.

The area also has a diverse number of mature trees that range from 100 to 150 years old and a large presence of Black Maple Trees, which are rare to this region.

“This shows what can happen when you partner together,” said Mayor Wayne Hurst. “Make no mistake, this habitant is very important to many specicies.”

Hurst added that it is “important to become better stewards of the environment.”

“We are going to be handing this planet down to our children and our children’s children,” said Hurst. “I am excited that we have taken the initiative to the conserve this property.”

John Mitchell, whose family sold the property to the NCC said the woods had been in his family for over 100 years and added that it is a bitter sweet moment.

“It’s bitter to have to sell it but its sweet knowing that it will stay the way it is,” said Mitchell.

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