CSLT History, 2004 – 2005

Winter 2004, Volume 1, Number 1 issue of the Canada South Land Trust’s Newsletter included a summary of the history of the Land Trust from the initial meeting of its executive members on September 6, 2001 to its December 2003 meeting. The Land Trust’s history continues.

The Land Trust’s first newsletter was distributed during January 2004 which included the first historical summary as well as information on conservation easements and a report on the first Community Gathering held on November 6, 2003 at the Essex Civic Centre attended by thirty persons.

A table top display board which was newly purchased with funding provided by the Ontario Trillium Foundation was displayed at the Ojibway Nature Centre’s Winter Festival on February 1, 2004 and a week later at Belle Isle’s Shiver on the River on Feburary 7, 2004.

A meeting was held February 24, 2004 with Phil Aylesworth to discuss setting up a web site for the Land Trust.

The Land Trust’s first Annual General Meeting was held on March 4, 2004 with Essex Region Conservation Authority Staff Biologist Dan Lebedyk as guest speaker. Dan spoke on the Essex Region Biodiversity Conservation Strategy.

Landowners Bill and Jack Balkwill approached the Land Trust in April 2004 to request placing a conservation easement on the woodlands and natural features of their property. At the May 2004 Land Trust executive meeting, the Land Trust stated its pleasure to be involved in the preservation of the woodlands and natural features of the Balkwill Lands.

Consulting Ecologist Gerry Waldron began work on the Land Trust’s strategy document. Nancy Murray kindly designed a charitable income tax receipt for the Land Trust.

A woodland walk was held in Bill and Jack Balkwill’s woodland on May 16, 2004 which was attended by 21 persons including several Town of Kingsville Councillors. Twenty-seven families and individuals are currently members of the Land Trust. Discussions regarding a conservation easement agreement on the Balkwill Lands were on-going. A Land Trust fund raising event was held at Holiday Beach Conservation Area on June 4, 2004 with Phil Roberts who lead the group on a walk through Prothonotary Warbler habitat.

Work continued on the Land Trust’s strategy document into Fall 2004. Graphic artist Scott Hughes continued work on the Land Trust’s new pamphlets. A Passerine Banding Workshop was held on October 9, 2004 at Holiday Beach Conservation Area as a fund raising event for the Land Trust.

Land Trust directors Patricia Rhoads and Betty Learmouth attended workshops at the Ontario Land Trust Alliance Gathering at Chaffey’s Lock north of Kingston on October 22-24, 2006.

Ministry of Natural Resources Chief Ecologist Allen Woodliffe was the speaker at a Land Trust fund raising dinner on December 2, 2004. Allen’s topic was A Historical Look at Our Natural Landscape in Southwestern Ontario.

Work continued on the Balkwill Conservation Agreement during January 2005 with another draft prepared for Land Trust executive members. The Balkwill Lands received Certification for Donation of Ecologically Sensitive Land from Environment Canada.

A group of sketches were received from Mary Celestino during January 2005. Mary had drawn a series of sketches in Chatham /Kent and Essex County to be used as illustrations in the strategy document currently being prepared by Consulting Ecologist Gerry Waldron.

A grant was received from the HIVA Environmental Fund during February 2005 as a donation towards the work of the Land Trust.

The Land Trust’s second Annual General Meeting was held on March 3, 2005. Guest speaker was Ben Porchuk who chose the topic The Animal in You: Past, Present and Future of the Human Species and Its Relationship with Biodiversity.

Graphic artist Scott Hughes provided the Land Trust with copies of the new brochures which were available for distribution at Earth Day in April 2005 at Ojibway Nature Centre.

The Land Trust welcomed Marie Deneau as the Land Trust’s newest director at its May 2005 director’s meeting.

Conservation law lawyer Paul Peterson visited the Balkwill Lands on May 16, 2005, meeting with landowners Bill and Jack Balkwill.

The Land Trust held a fund raising event on June 11, 2005 at Penelope Potter’s farm in the Town of Essex, followed by a dinner. Paul DesJardins lead the walk at Penelope’s farm as everyone enjoyed the birds and insects living at Penelope’s 75 acre meadow restoration site.

Consulting Ecologist Gerry Waldron submitted the Land Trust’s Natural Heritage Preservation Strategy to the Land Trust during June 2005.

As part of the preparation of the Balkwill Lands Baseline Report (this document is a record of the conditions of the Lands at the signing of the Conservation Easement Agreement), Tom and Cathy Ayles took ground photographs of the Balkwill Lands during August and early September 2005. Landowners Bill and Jack Balkwill provided assistance to the photographers through their interpretation of the woodland.

The Land Trust’s display board was part of the exhibits at the Ontario Tallgrass Prairie & Savannah Forum held in Brantford, Ontario, September 21 – 22, 2005. Photographs of the Balkwill tallgrass prairie restoration site were on display at the conference at which prairie restoration was a conference theme.

A Land Trust bird banding and hawk watch event on October 10, 2005 attracted 14 persons who enjoyed a truly exciting migration event at Holiday Beach Conservation Area.

During October 2006, work continued on the Balkwill Baseline Report as arborist Casey Colthurst began the process of preparing a series of aerial photographs of the Balkwill Lands.

On November 3, 2005, the Land Trust adopted the Ontario Land Trust Alliance Statement of Standards and Practices. The Land Trust Standards and Practices are guidelines for the responsible operation of a land trust, which is run legally, ethically, and in the public interest, and which conducts a sound program of land transactions and stewardship.

The Ontario Land Trust Alliance Gathering held in Barrie, Ontario, November 11-13, 2005, was the largest gathering to date with participants from British Columbia, Ontario, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia. Of particular interest were workshops on the preparation of baseline reports and aspects of conservation easement agreements.

Seventeen Land Trust members and friends gathered on December 1, 2005 at the Essex Civic Centre for a supper and presentation by Species at Risk Biologist Scott Gillingwater on turtles in Southern Ontario with special attention to the Spiny Softshell. Scott is chair of the Ontario Spiny Softshell Turtle Recovery Team and a new member of the Committee of the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).