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Wildlife corridor in Lake Ontario watershed now protected land, conservation group says

Click to play video: '5,000-hectare ‘Hastings Wildlife Junction’ now protected by Nature Conservancy of Canada' 5,000-hectare ‘Hastings Wildlife Junction’ now protected by Nature Conservancy of Canada
The Nature Conservancy of Canada is now protecting a combined 5,000 hectares of land in Hastings County – known as the Hastings Wildlife Junction. The organization is now setting its sights on an additional 3,000 hectares in the area. Sam Houpt has the story – Mar 20, 2022

The Nature Conservancy of Canada says a stretch of a major wildlife corridor within the Lake Ontario watershed is now protected land.

The organization says 50 square kilometres will be protected and cared for in the Hastings Wildlife Junction, located between Belleville, Ont., and Bancroft, Ont., thanks to funding from the provincial and federal governments and private donations.

A large portion of the land was donated by Ben Samann, founder of Land’escapes, a private organization that works to protect and conserve land in south-central Ontario.

Samann says he is “thrilled” to know that the land will be protected, noting it is home to “so many plant and animal species.”

Read more: Coronavirus pandemic likely a boon for Ontario wildlife as humans stay home

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The Nature Conservancy of Canada says the land offers some of the “best remaining habitat” in southern Ontario for species at risk, including endangered Blanding’s turtles and Canada warblers, which are colourful songbirds that are considered threatened.

The national land conservation non-profit says the land is also home to eastern wolf, black bear, moose, pine marten, elk and rare birds.

It notes that the area is also critical for maintaining the water quality for local aquatic life and downstream communities from Belleville to Kingston.

Kristyn Ferguson, the conservation authority’s program director of large landscapes, calls the conservation project a “unique and incredibly rare” opportunity to save a large corridor of natural land in southern Ontario.

The organization says its goal is to conserve 80 square kilometres of intact forest and wetlands in the area, adding it is encouraging people, businesses and foundations to donate to and help accelerate the project “across the finish line.”

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