Over the past seven months, the Couchiching Conservancy has been inviting people to visit our properties on guided hikes, bike rides, water events and walks. The seasons have changed, friendships were made a
nd somehow the months have pleasantly flown by with the Passport to Nature series. It has now completed for the year, and what an incredibly successful venture it has been.
The passport was created as a way to increase awareness of the work we do, connect people to our landscape and raise funds for our work. I’m happy to report we have accomplished all of our goals and are already planning events for next year. Events were so well attended, we had to put a cap on most because there was so much interest.
With the support from a number of businesses, media partners and the Orillia Community Development Corporation, we raised more than $13,000 for our conservation efforts. Because of this support, we were able to offer these events at no cost to the public. Every year, we work to protect land already under our care, striving to expand our reach and engage in projects in the field. Caring for 12,000 acres throughout the region is a big undertaking and the money raised makes a difference.
People who attended these events walked on trails, battled the outdoor elements a few times, heard bird songs, stood in awe of vast forests of green and got reconnected to nature. Some were surprised by what they saw, like when Ellen Cohen, of Washago, came across a genetically mutated white trillium at Grant’s Woods with event leader Mary Mick, or when the group that visited Roehl Wetland by water got hands-on with a milk snake that was slithering across the rocky landscape. What special things we can come across in this wild world of ours.
There are more than 40 properties the Couchiching Conservancy is involved with — through direct ownership, partnerships or conservation easements. The Passport to Nature events took about 300 people out to just seven properties, which accounts for 864 acres of protected wilderness.
Throughout these past seven months, my favourite part has been hearing about the events afterward from people who attended. Whether it’s a quick email of thanks or a phone call to talk about what species were seen, it has been wonderful to hear how excited people are about getting outdoors. The mission statement of the Couchiching Conservancy is “protecting nature for future generations,” but it’s also about today. We work in the now to foster an appreciation of environmental protection so these unique and irreplaceable areas are here forever.
With all of these successes, we are looking to the future. We want to increase the number of events offered, focusing many in the summer, when birding is at its prime and the weather is ideal.
So, what would you like to see for next year? Are there properties you are itching to visit but would like to go with a group? What types of activities would you like to do? Please give me a call at the office and let me know your thoughts. The number is 705-326-1620.
Tanya Clark is the development co-ordinator at the Couchiching Conservancy, a non-profit land trust dedicated to protecting special natural areas in the region. Learn more about the conservancy’s work at couchichingconserv.ca.