Kawartha Land Trust (KLT) has just developed a Conservation Easement Agreement (CEA) with Bob and Mary Hartley to protect Pine Ridge, a very special 44 acre property that sits along the Hogsback Esker (Omemee Esker) just west of the Pigeon River.
“It’s an exciting time for conservation in this region, while threats to the landscape continue to increase donors are seeing the importance to act now to protect nature before it’s gone,” said KLT’s Development Manager Tara King.
On average, KLT has protected one new property per year. But over the past year, donors of land, money and time have enabled KLT to protect three more environmentally significant properties and develop new partnerships and projects to advance conservation in the Kawarthas. King says, even though year end is quickly approaching there will be more protected properties announced soon, making it the organization’s biggest year in terms of number of properties protected.
The Hartleys have owned this remarkable property for 37 years. The forest contains some trees that are estimated to be up to 215 years old, the oldest in the City of Kawartha Lakes!
Pine Ridge sits at a pinch point along a north-south wildlife corridor. A critical pathway in an otherwise fragmented landscape. Many species at risk are found in this area and benefit from this property’s connection to surrounding natural areas, and a county protected forest.
The property is covered by forest and contains vegetation types that are underrepresented locally. It contains musclewood trees, an uncommon discovery as this species does not usually live this far north. It is likely that the area’s sheltered valleys have created a microclimate in which these trees were able to survive.
There is a small man-made pond on the property, as well as a small abandoned agricultural pasture and a residence with a small barn. The land was used as a hobby cattle farm in the past and has been home to a small maple syrup business.
A special feature of this property is the eskar ridge of stratified sand and gravel. The eskar the property sits on is 16-19 km long, and the Hartleys did not want anyone to buy the property in order to develop gravel pits—a possibility if it is sold without protection. Bob Hartley says he and his wife decided to protect the property through a CEA with the KLT because it was the only way to provide long-term protection.
The CEA allows them to protect the natural conservation values while continuing to retain private ownership of the land.
“This property is beautiful and has all kinds of unique features,” Mr. Hartley said. “I enjoy it every day when I walk it with my dog and when I jog through it three times a week.”
KLT has a goal to ensure public access when it is compatible with the long term protection goals of these sites and features, and correspond with the wishes of the land donor. Pine Ridge is not open for public access.
Kawartha Land Trust is the only non-government charitable organization committed to protecting land in the Kawarthas, as of today KLT protects 15 properties covering more than 3,399 acres of diverse and significant land.