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The Bruce Trail Conservancy: Perspectives in Preservation of Natural Heritage Leading Edge Conference May 26, 2011

Beth K端mmling Executive Director The Bruce Trail Conservancy

The Niagara Escarpment is a prime example of a natural heritage corridor in need of protection The Escarpment supports rare and endangered species such as Hart’s Tongue Fern, the Massasauga Rattlesnake, orchids, and Eastern White Cedars dating back 1,300 years

Massasauga Rattlesnake

Eastern White Cedar

Calypso Orchid

Hart’s Tongue Fern

What does the Bruce Trail know about protection of natural heritage? Rattlesnake Point

Today, six million people live within a 90 minute drive of the Niagara Escarpment

The idea of a public footpath spanning the Niagara Escarpment as a means of promoting its protection was born in 1960 Founding members Ray Lowes, Philip Gosling, Norman Pearson and Dr. Robert McLaren were each instrumental in creating the Bruce Trail Their idea: give the public a way to access and explore this beautiful masterpiece – the Niagara Escarpment – and they will embrace the commitment to preserve it

Ray Lowes writing in Volume 1, Number 2 Bruce Trail News, September 1963: “. . . here stands a rugged, beautiful continuum of rocks, waterfalls, greenery and ‘recreational opportunity’ that must be preserved in its entirety for us and for the future. The Bruce Trail is the chain that at once binds this potential into a unified whole; that brings the very existence of a unique resource sharply to the attention of a population used to taking things for granted; that, when it is built and being used, will inspire a desire to protect and preserve from further encroachment a green belt across the province which could be our pride in future years.”

Philip Gosling measuring the Bruce Trail, 1962

First Bruce Trail Hike - April 21 to 28, 1962 (L to R): Ian Lamont Smith, Doug Brown, Deirdre Clark, unidentified member, Philip Gosling, Douglas Campbell, and Jim Allen




Beaver Valley

Blue Mountains

Running 885 km along the length of the Niagara Escarpment, the Bruce Trail is the means of access to this unique and ecologically significant corridor

Dufferin Hi-Land

Caledon Hills Toronto


Niagara (Queenston Heights)


It represents the only continuous public access to the Niagara Escarpment, from Niagara to Tobermory

BTC Land Acquisitions 1974 to 2011

Time Period

Number of Properties  Secured

Property Value Secured

Acres Secured

km secured














































BTC Overview • The main work of our organization is conservation and preservation of the Niagara Escarpment, and we spend from $1 to $2 million annually on land to achieve this; funding for this comes from donors and some government grants • Nevertheless the Bruce Trail itself remains a critical part of our mission • It is our key marketing tool, to get people out on the Escarpment and foster their appreciation for its protection

The Optimum Route Approach •

The BTC takes a corridor approach to preserving the ecology of the Niagara Escarpment

Most lands along the OR are “Escarpment Natural” or “Escarpment Protection”, and are therefore in need of protection

Protection of corridors is vital for ecological health (avoids “island ecosystems”, allows wildlife movement, sustainability of habitats

Therefore, any property along our OR is a viable candidate for acquisition - if ecologically sound, then will remain protected forever - if ecologically impaired (e.g. old field, quarry, etc.), restoration work is done

End result will be a continuous, healthy and ecological corridor for wildlife, that can be enjoyed in a sustainable way by the public via our footpath

Walter’s Creek Purchased with a 50% grant from the OHT NSLASP

Partnerships: Ontario Heritage Trust A long-standing partnership dating back to the 1990s In 1996 the BTC entered into an agreement to transfer title of most of its lands (over 100 parcels at the time) to the OHT Under this partnership, OHT has title to the lands, while the BTC retains management responsibilities Benefits to partnership were funds availability and partial takings of land BTC still partners with OHT on stewardship of the lands owned by the OHT, and on new land acquisition prospects funded under the Natural Spaces Program

Partnerships: Conservation Authorities, Ontario Parks and Parks Canada The Bruce Trail passes through 7 Conservation Authorities, many Provincial Parks, and Bruce Peninsula National Park Local Bruce Trail Clubs work closely with CAs and Parks in their communities Develop and maintain trails, create an enjoyable public experience, manage lands (e.g. tree cutting) CAs and Ontario Parks help BTC with land acquisitions via severances/partial takings Niagara Escarpment Parks and Open Spaces System (NEPOSS) Council

Malcolm Bluff Shores Being acquired through a Partnership between Ontario Nature and the Bruce Trail Conservancy

Other Land Trusts Other land trusts such as the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy and Ontario Nature are not only landowners, but can provide a valuable partnership on land acquisition and stewardship An example is the work the BTC and Ontario Nature are doing on acquiring Malcolm Bluff Shores, a 1,045 acre property on the shores of Colpoy’s Bay, worth over $2 million We are jointly fundraising for the acquisition, and will be sharing stewardship responsibilities

Tourism and the Bruce Trail •

The Bruce Trail is widely known throughout Southern Ontario as a recreational hiking Trail

Past research shows that there are more than 400,000 visits to the Bruce Trail each year

The BTC has 8,500 members

In spite of its well-recognized name, there is a poor understanding of the work we do, how we’re funded, who “owns” the Trail, etc.

Our Challenge in Natural Heritage Protection Our Trail is our marketing tool – our means to an end in preservation of the Niagara Escarpment. It is an essential element in the preservation of this important natural corridor, and in fact after the Escarpment itself is the most recognizable entity of the corridor. The BTC has made great strides in using that “marketing tool� to advance our work in preservation of the Escarpment. But as funds dwindle, lands become more expensive, the demographics of the Province change, and our partners feel their own financial and risk management challenges, how do we ensure our work can continue? Is the answer more advertisement? More tourism? There are already a lot of people visiting the Bruce Trail who are not supporting the BTC. From a tourism perspective, engaging these people in our work, through membership, volunteering and donations, is our challenge

Speech by Ray Lowes at the Niagara Escarpment Conference, March 22, 1968: “. . . not all of us can study ecology, but we should all have the opportunity to walk under ancient trees on a forest floor that is rich with the things that sustain life, or to birdwatch along an edge of bushland. … It is this right of access to places of natural beauty that I plead for. We are poor indeed if we are so grasping for every dollar that we cannot afford this narrow strip of land across our Province for the good of all. The simplicity of our request is astounding! We just want a strip of land that will be left alone – not manicured, not landscaped, not serviced by 70 or 60 or 50 mile-an-hour multi-laned highways or “parkways”, and not through new subdivisions along the brow or along road sides. It’s not much to ask. A later generation will demand it.” 1-800-665-4453

The Bruce Trail Conservancy:Perspectives in Preservation of Natural Heritage  

Presentation by Beth Kummling, Bruce Trail Conservancy

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