Couchiching Conservancy boasts new nature reserve bordering provincial park
The Couchiching Conservancy has acquired 728 acres of natural habitat, including 4.4 kilometres of shoreline adjacent to the Black River, about 30 kilometres southwest from Minden.
Through hundreds of donations, including a large contribution by the Government of Canada’s Natural Areas Conservation Program, the Couchiching Conservancy was able to secure the purchase of the land. The Ron Reid Nature Reserve is now the largest property of the Couchiching Conservancy.
The couple who previously owned the property for several years, had initially spoken to Ontario Parks about acquiring the land, who then redirected them to the Couchiching Conservancy, said Tanya Clark, development co-ordinator for the organization.
“It was a good opportunity to have a new neighbour with Ontario Parks and particularly to be able to protect a piece of the Black River,” said Clark. With the purchase of the land by the Couchiching
Conservancy, both sides of the shoreline will now be protected, since the Black River cuts through the centre of the property.
The land was a privately-owned parcel of property that borders the Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands on three of its four sides. It also occupies an area left behind from receding glaciers from more than 10,000 years ago.
The purchase was made back in February of this year, and is just one of several other privately-owned parcels of land located within the park. Ontario Parks said that the region houses many species at risk including Blanding’s turtle, snapping turtle, eastern hog-nosed snake, five-lined skink and some bird species.
At the nonprofit’s annual general meeting in March, the Black River Wildlands – as the new nature reserve was previously known – had its name changed to honour one of the founders of the Couchiching Conservancy, Ron Reid. Clark said that an official unveiling of the property is scheduled for a yet-to-be determined date in September.
The next steps for the Couchiching Conservancy include ongoing stewardship and monitoring of the property. Eventually, Clark hopes that the conservancy will have a trail leading from the parking lot down to the Black River. In the meantime, each nature reserve under the Couchiching Conservancy has a property management plan, which looks at invasive species and other concerns.
“We want to give people access to the land if we can – if it makes sense for the property,” she said.
The nearby Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands is known for being one of the least disturbed natural areas in central Ontario, according to Ontario Parks.
Since 1993, the Couchiching Conservancy has protected nearly 5,260 hectares in the Lake Couchiching region. The Ron Reid Nature Reserve is now the largest property contained in the Couchiching Conservancy.
The Couchiching Conservancy is hosting a free event for kids “Passport to Nature: Nuts for Nature” at the Carden Recreation Centre on Sunday, June 24 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Register here.