Peterborough residents Patricia Morton and David Morton say conservation and preservation of habitat and land were their main reasons for donating 133 acres of forested land — including 1.5 km of natural lakefront shoreline — to Kawartha Land Trust.
The Mortons donated the land at the end of December 2021 but the donation was made public on Wednesday by Kawartha Land Trust which protects more than 4,800 acres of land throughout the Kawarthas.
Kawartha Land Trust says the property — known as the Morton Nature Sanctuary — is home to at least two species at risk (Eastern Ribbonsnake and Eastern Wood Pewee), an abundance of wildlife and an undeveloped lakefront shoreline.
At the Mortons’ request, the sanctuary will not be open to public access and its location will not be disclosed in order to ensure the preservation of its sensitive habitats, Kawartha Land Trust said.
“Our major goal and great wish (was) to protect, conserve and preserve this land, forest and habitat now and for the foreseeable future as, in effect, our legacy and gift to our Mother Nature,” said Patricia Morton, an emeritus professor at Trent University.
“I think it is especially important to protect our forest in perpetuity — to protect it for the sake of its sequestering of carbon and tremendous environmental benefits, and especially for the sake of all the wonderful habitat, wildlife, and ecosystems that it sustains especially when allowed to become a natural forest.
“By natural, I mean left uncut and unmanaged, and left on its own to grow, live and to die. Because as we are beginning to understand, over time, that a natural forest importantly grows as much underground as above. ”
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John Kintare, executive director of KLT, says the land is part of the “The Land Between” transitional landscape zone and almost 60 per cent of the property falls within the Kawarthas Naturally Connected natural heritage system.
“We’re extremely thankful to the Mortons for taking action to secure critical habitat in our region to ensure it is protected for wildlife that might otherwise be lost if the land was developed,” he said.
Patricia said the Mortons chose to transfer the land to the Kawartha Land Trust, rather than selling the property, to ensure the land would be protected.
“It would certainly seem that we had other viable options, such as to sell our property to someone whom we believed loved it,” she said.
“This would have been a very lucrative option for us. However, we could never know that this private party would take good care of it.
“Thus, we had to consider all possible options in light of our major goal and great wish to protect, conserve and preserve this land, forest and habitat now and for the foreseeable future as, in effect, our legacy and gift to our Mother Nature. And in this context, it became clear that by far our best option was to gift this entire property to a trustworthy, non-profit, land protection organization.”
Morton said they have long appreciated the work by Kawartha Land Trust and have seen other large landholders also place their trust in the organization.
“We have also seen the planning and careful and caring protection it provides to the lands donated to it, and the diversity of these lands which in some cases are accessible to the public and in other cases, like ours, are not,” she said. “We thus feel entirely able and very happy to entrust our beloved land to the protection of KLT.”
Kawartha Land Trust has acquired 10 new properties over the past two years.