News Archive

Tree Planting and Open day

On May 3, 2006, representatives of all levels of Government, the Ganaraska Conservation Authority and members of the Northumberland Land Trust board gathered to celebrate the acquisition of the Laurie Lawson Property.

A wildlife painting was presented to Dr. Mary Bedford-Jones to show appreciation for her gift of the property (right)

Ceremonial Tree planting (below)

After the tree was planted, the group gathered with some grade one children who were at the property for one of their educational sessions (below/right)

Click any photo for a larger version

Land Trust planning for the future
Cobourg Star and Port Hope Guide March 15th, 2006

The Northumberland Land Trust hasn't been in operation long but its members have big plans for the future. Its mission is to preserve the natural, historical and cultural heritage of Northumberland County. Its main thrust is the preservation of wetlands for future generations.

Its goals include establishing, maintaining and managing protected areas and nature reserves in Northumberland County.

It also strives to educate the public on the conservation and preservation of the landscape, ecology and wildlife of the county.

Under the leadership of Cramahe Township resident Doug Galt (left), the volunteer group has acquired its first property north of Cobourg and there are plans in the future for more.

The Northumberland Land Trust was established by the Willow Beach Field Naturalists in August, 2004.

Sixteen months later, the Laurie Lawson property with its many spring pools came under its perpetual care, thanks to the generosity of Dr. Mary Bedford-Jones and her late husband, Bill Goodwin. It was Mr. Goodwin's wish the efforts of outdoor-education naturalist Mark Rupke continue. He and Dr. Bedford-Jones also wanted to preserve the natural integrity of the property. Thousands of students from this area are familiar with the unique and diverse property which has been available for educational purposes since 1968.

In the beginning, the only cover on the site was an army tent. In the early 1970s, students from Cobourg District Collegiate Institute East built the learning centre which is still in use today. It has seen more than 100,000 students walk through its doors, taking in the outdoor experience.

The property is the only wooded area just north of Lake Ontario and includes a duck marsh, parts of Cobourg Creek, wetlands and forested areas. It is five minutes drive from Cobourg.

Dr. Galt says the trust is now considering 10 possible donations and easements. With those possibilities, the trust members have to be careful not to try to do too much and overtax their limited financial and human resources.

How to donate
The trust is set up to accept donations of land, raise funds to secure and manage select properties, enter into conservation agreements for the permanent protection of natural landscapes, forests, farms and waterways, and to provide public education and information on land conservation tools.

Donations are matched by the Willow Beach Field Naturalists.

Property owners interested in arranging for the permanent protection of the natural features of their land have five options:

  1. All or part of the ownership of a property can be transferred as a gift to the Land Trust. The owner will be entitled to a charitable tax receipt for the appraised value of the land.
  2. Property can be donated to the Land Trust, while the owner reserves a "life estate," allowing the owner to continue living on the property or to enjoy it for as long as they live.
  3. An owner willing to sell land to a conservation organization at a bargain price may be entitled to a tax receipt for the difference between the fair market value and the bargain purchase price. This is not an option likely to be utilized in the near future as it requires the accumulation of capital by the trust to buy the land.
  4. Donors may give property to the land trust in their wills. It is recommended that anyone considering this option reviewed it with the land trust in advance to ensure that the gift can be accepted and that the donor's wishes can be respected.
  5. A legal agreement can be registered on the title of property to restrict future subdivision and development. The property owner will continue to own the land and to use it, subject to any restrictions in the terms of the agreement. Those restrictions might include a prohibition on clear-cut logging or the draining of wetlands. Such an agreement will run with the land, and be binding on future owners if the original owner sells the property.

The "ecogift" provisions of the federal Income Tax Act allow donors of conservation lands and conservation agreements to qualify for preferential tax treatment. That preferential treatment will be available in cases where the ecological sensitivity of the land in question, the appraised value of the gift, and the land trust itself have all been approved by the federal Ministry of Environment.

A poem used by Dr. Galt perhaps best describes the rationale behind the land trust:

The Bridge Builder
By Will Allen Dromgoole

An old man going a lone highway
Came at the evening cold and gray
To a chasm vast and deep and wide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fears for him.
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.

"Old man," said a fellow pilgrim near,
"You are wasting your time with building here.
You never again will pass this way —
Your journey will end with the closing day.
You have crossed the chasm deep and wide;
Why build you this bridge at eventide?"

The builder lifted his old gray head.
"Good friend, in the way that I've come," he said,
"There followeth after me today
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This stream that has been as naught to me,
To the fair-haired youth might a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I'm building the bridge for him."

For more information concerning the Northumberland Land Trust their website is at www.northumberland landtrust.ca [This site]

It meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of every month at Victoria Retirement residence on College Street in Cobourg.

Dec 8, 2005

Northumberland Land Trust announces first acquisition

By Cecilia Nasmith

A brisk December Wednesday was the perfect time for the Northumberland Land Trust to announce its first acquisition.

And the 42 hectares of the Laurie Lawson Outdoor Education Centre make a perfect Christmas gift for the children of Northumberland, added the group's president, Doug Galt. The non-governmental organization was established a year ago with the assistance of the Willow Beach Field Naturalists to preserve environmentally and historically significant lands.

Thanks to a generous donation by the Hamilton Township land parcel's owner, Mary Bedford-Jones — and an agreement already in place with the board of education — the happy experiences a visit to the outdoor education centre add to a child's school year will continue for future classes.

PHOTO BY TED AMSDEN
(From left) Northumberland Land Trust president Doug Galt and directors Brenda Beck, Russell Lake and Audrey E. Wilson talk about nature outside the main instruction building located on the Outdoor Education Centre property on Theatre Road.
The land represents the only remaining wooded area for some distance just north of Lake Ontario. It contains a duck marsh, portions of Cobourg Creek, ephemeral wetlands and a mix of reforestation. The animals who call it home include many amphibians and invertebrates, as well as otter, deer, fox and a roster of bird life that includes the great-horned owl, hawk, grosbeak, indigo bunting and woodcock.

In transferring ownership, Dr. Bedford-Jones was assuring the wishes of her late husband Bill Goodwin would be realized: that the wildlife enhancement and environmental-protection efforts of outdoor-education naturalist Mark Rupke, would continue, and that the property would continue to be available for educational purposes — as it has been since the late 1960s, when the program became a pioneer field project.

Dr. Galt was joined by other members of the board – vice-president Paul Peterson, communications co-ordinator Al Hoffman, special-projects co-ordinator James Thomas, and directors Dr. Brenda Beck, Russell Lake and Audrey E. Wilson – in making the announcement in the centre's educational classroom, where more than 125,000 students have gathered over the years to watch the chickadees enjoying the bird feeder by the window and to study such areas as mapping skills, geography, forest management and ecology.

"You might say this is about a grassroots organization wanting to protect sensitive lands into the future," Dr. Galt said. "It seems like a natural fit to partner with the school board.

"We think it is the ideal way for the land trust to start."

An official ribbon cutting is planned in the spring, with local mayors and school-board representatives. And a January 12 fund-raiser is planned at the Lions Centre.

[For more on the property (including a movie of the above event) - see the Laurie Lawson Information page.]

Building a “Bridge” in Northumberland
Cobourg Star and Port Hope Guide, June 30th, 2005

When we moved to Cobourg fourteen years ago this month we didn’t know quite what to expect about “small town” living.   It was the beginning of an experience we wouldn’t have missed for the world.  There is something about Northumberland that appeals to that mystical place deep inside each of us that says, “Hey!  This is where you belong!”  Our move some years later, a little deeper into the County’s rolling hills, has since compounded the feeling that we are indeed, “home.”

We have met and worked with some wonderful, caring people here over the years and have come to understand the deep loyalty and affection they feel for everything that makes Northumberland such a great place in which to live.  We can’t imagine a better choice when we decided to leave the “big smoke” called Toronto in search of more tranquil times.

Our children enjoy nothing more than to visit here, and on more than one occasion we have heard them say, “I wish we could raise our kids here” or “How I wish we could get out of the rat race called  Toronto.” In thinking about this the other day my mind drifted back to a recent Cobourg Probus Club meeting at which Doug Galt was the guest speaker.  Doug may no longer represent us at Queens Park, but he is still devoted to and working for all who call Northumberland “home.”

The message Doug brought to Probus was one concerning the Northumberland Land Trust. I had never heard about this organization and was excited by what Doug had to say.  His message was well received by the one hundred or so in attendance, as well it might be, because the message really struck home to an audience of seniors, many of whom, like me, must be wondering what future generations will think about the world we will have left them.

Doug began by reading a poem.  This highly unusual opening seemed to hold the audience spellbound.  A sure sign that the message was one with which we could all identify. Here is the poem.  Read it slowly, and think about your children and grandchildren as you do.

THE BRIDGE BUILDER
    By Will Allen Dromgoole

An old man going a lone highway
Came at the evening cold and gray
To a chasm vast and deep and wide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fears for him.
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting your time with building here.
You never again will pass this way —
Your journey will end with the closing day.
You have crossed the chasm deep and wide;
Why build you this bridge at eventide?”

The builder lifted his old gray head.
“Good friend, in the way that I’ve come,” he said,
“There followeth after me today
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This stream that has been as naught to me,
To the fair-haired youth might a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I’m building the bridge for him.”

The audience was still. Silent.  Most, I imagine, were thinking about their own children or grandchildren. Wondering what will they think of us when they inherit Northumberland for their own. What sort of “bridge” would they have us build for them? Most of us hope to leave a few dollars to those we leave behind.  But money alone has little to do with the quality of life they will experience.  Money alone can’t buy a sunset. Or a loon’s call.  Or a walk through a woodland rich in wildlife.  Money alone can’t create a stream, or a creek or a lake.  Money alone cannot “buy” the happiness and contentment which seems to be in such short supply in this old world. Wouldn’t we all hope to leave our heirs more than just money?

At this point, Doug introduced The Northumberland Land Trust, a newly formed charity dedicated to preserving at least a part of the cherished landscapes that make Northumberland so unique. An organization hard at work for today’s citizens to make certain  tomorrow’s citizens will experience at least some of the features worth preserving in this County.

The Northumberland Land Trust is governed by a  volunteer board of which Doug Galt chairs. The Trust is positioned to accept donations of land; fundraise to secure and manage select properties; enter into conservation agreements for the permanent protection of natural landscapes, forests, farms and waterways; and to provide public education and information on land conservation tools.

Property owners interested in arranging for the permanent protection of the natural features of their land will have a number of options:

  • Donation of Title: All or part of the ownership of a property may be transferred as a gift to the Land Trust.  The owner will be entitled to a charitable tax receipt for the appraised value of the land.
  • Life Trust: Property can be donated to the Land Trust, while the owner reserves a ‘life estate’ allowing the owner to continue living on the property or to enjoy it for as long as they live.
  • Bargain Sale: An owner willing to sell land to a conservation organization at a bargain price may be entitled to a tax receipt for the difference between the fair market value and the bargain purchase price.  As a new organization, it will take the Northumberland Land Trust some time to accumulate the donations of cash and assets that will enable it to purchase property even at reduced prices.
  • Cash Donations: Donors may give both land or real estate to the Land Trust in their will, but it is important to have gifts or property reviewed with the Land Trust in advance to ensure that the gift can be accepted and that the donor’s wishes can be respected.
  • Conservation Agreements: A legal agreement can be registered on the title of property to restrict future subdivision and development. The property owner will continue to own the land and to use it, subject to any restrictions in the terms of the agreement.  Those restrictions might include a prohibition on clear cut logging or the draining of wetlands.  Such an agreement will ‘run with the land’ and be binding on future owners if the original owner sells the property.

The Ontario government has enacted the Conservation Land Act enabling owners and non-government conservation organizations to enter into agreements. It also allows the Land Trust to monitor the property and ensure that future owners continue to respect the conservation terms of the agreement.

The Northumberland Land Trust appears to me to be a great way in which to leave something meaningful to those who will follow us.  It would be nice to think that someday your grandchildren might take their children for a walk in the country and be able to say “this is where I walked with my grandmother when I was your age.”  You can’t put a price on memories like that.

If you’d like more information concerning the Northumberland Land Trust they may be reached at www.northumberlandlandtrust.ca [this site - Ed.]

Bill Johnson

NORTHUMBERLAND LAND TRUST – A REPORT

On August 19th 2004, the provisional Board of Directors from the Willow Beach Field Naturalist (WBFN) turned over the management of the Northumberland Land Trust (the Trust) to a successor board. After several informal meetings, the new board elected, on October 28th its executive which consisted of; President - Doug Galt, Vice President – Paul Peterson, Secretary/Treasurer – Frankie Liberty and Directors – Brenda Beck, Joan Chalovich, Russell Lake, Bill Logan and Audrey Wilson with Brian Baxter as President of WBFN an ex officio member. Following this meeting a press release announcing the establishment of the Trust was prepared and issued to the media serving Northumberland County. The board was expanded in early 2005 with the addition of Lewis Dunk from the Trent Hills area

As a number of property owners had expressed interest in having their properties protected, it was evident that the Trust had to establish priorities on properties to be considered for either acquisition or establishment of Conservation Easements. Therefore a prioritization workshop attended by the Trust’s Board members and other interested parties was held at Victoria Inn on January 15 th, 2005. This meeting resulted in the establishment of broad priorities with which the Trust will use for property selection and external relations. At present the Trust is negotiating with a property owner for its first protected piece of land.

Membership in the Trust is now open to individuals interested in protecting and conserving the landscape of the County. The cost of membership is $20.00 and is valid until January 1st, 2007. The members of WBFN will find membership of interest for as properties are acquired for conservation each will require biological inventorying and on-going monitoring/stewardship. In addition the Trust is a registered charity and anyone considering a donation or a bequest to the Trust can contact any member of the executive.

Bill Logan

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