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The T.C. Agnew Nature Reserve is officially open

Joan Berndt & Susan Campbell have made a legacy for their family-a living legacy of nature that will give back to the community forever.

The sisters honoured their grandfather, Thomas C. Agnew, by making a new nature reserve possible through a generous donation. “Since our grandfather was a legend in this community, we felt leaving it as a legacy to him was a suitable acknowledgement” Joan told a crowd of more than 30 people that gathered together to celebrate the official opening of the Thomas C. Agnew Nature Reserve.

The 85 acre property is a mixed upland forest with more than 228 native plants. Wood warblers and viroes have been spotted on the property, as well as American Bittern. Blanding’s and snapping turtles make this reserve their home in the newly named Bullfrog Pond.

Protecting such vanishing wetlands remains a high priority for the Couchiching Conservancy, and when the opportunity to create the Thomas C. Agnew Nature Reserve arose, we acted.

This reserve will now be protected forever, thanks to a partial donation and partial purchase. The partial land donation was made by sisters Joan Berndt and Susan Campbell in 2011. This family acted as custodians of the land for 100 years and their donation will ensure that their family legacy will lives on.

The partial purchase of the property was made possible thanks to a number of individual supporters who answered the call to help raise funds to secure this nature reserve. Many community members, as well as the Township of Severn and the Ontario Land Trust Alliance contributed.

Thomas Agnew was an early settler and businessman in the Washago area and his descendants developed a growing love for the landscape. The land was acquired by the family in 1913 and was originally used as a quarry. The rock and sand were used to create the Trent Severn Canal and the family regularly went walking on the property. As time passed, the land was passed down to their father and then onto the sisters in 1999.

When the land came into their father’s possession, he entered into a contract with the Department of Lands and Forests to plant fir trees in the sandy areas. The trees now tower well above over our heads and have helped rehabilitate the old sand pit areas.

During the opening ceremony, the sisters expressed their happiness that people have been walking the trails and hope that everyone will continue to do so.

If you would like to visit this property, parking is available at the bend in the road on Fawcett Road. You have to walk down Fawcett, past the Fawcett Natural Area and onto the Thomas C. Agnew Nature Reserve. The walk to the property takes approximately 15 minutes.

A new trail system has been developed, thanks to Stewardship Manager David Hawke, and the Agnew Property Team, led by Gayle Caryle. The Pippsisewa Trail (named for the wildflower that blooms in May along the trail) has been split into two sections – green and yellow. The green map was an easy section and the yellow is more moderate. There is a trail map available on our website.

Thank you again to everyone that has taken action today to ensure that these wild lands are protected for future generations.

Written by Tanya Clark, Development Coordinator.

Click Here to learn more about the the Thomas C. Agnew Nature Reserve.