Group donates 297 acres to DUC along the Beaver River in the Lake Simcoe watershed

UXBRIDGE, ON – Thanks to the generosity of a group of conservation-minded individuals, Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) is celebrating the recent acquisition of 297 acres, (120.19 hectares) in the Lake Simcoe watershed. The property, on the Beaver River in Scugog Township, will provide a contiguous corridor of wetland habitats for migratory waterfowl and rare and endangered bird species.

Located just south of Sunderland in Scugog township, the land was acquired from multiple individuals who donated the shares of the land to DUC. Finalized in early March 2024, the donation allows protection of the wetland in perpetuity. It extends the conservation of vital wildlife habitats in the region, including the adjacent land with public-use trails owned by the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA). The lands have a high proportion of both temporary and semi-permanent shallow marshes, deep marshes, and bodies of open water.

Surrounded by agricultural lands, the property is a Class 1 Provincially Significant Wetland within the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence biome and is situated within DUC’s Priority Habitat for breeding waterfowl. This site supports some of the highest waterfowl pair densities in the province and provides quality habitats for breeding, molting and staging dabbling ducks with the most common species being Mallards, Black Ducks, Blue-winged Teal, and Wood Ducks. The site also provides a habitat for rare and endangered bird species such as the Virginia Rail, Least Bittern, Pied-Billed Grebe, Common Gallinule and Long-billed Marsh Wren.

“DUC was approached in 2021 by a group of passionate people who truly care about conserving wetlands,” said Alexis Hand, Conservation Program Specialist, Land Securement, DUC. “To protect the property from development pressures, they knew DUC was a good fit. We are grateful for their thoughtful gift of conservation and for their determination to protect critical habitats for waterfowl and other wildlife long into the future.”

Aubrey Baillee, a member of the former Yacking Duck Club, who owned and used the land for hunting waterfowl for more than three decades, is pleased with the donation’s outcome.

“Ducks Unlimited Canada was the right choice,” Baillee said. “We knew they would look after the property and love it the way we did for so many years. To sit in the marsh and hear the birds singing all around you is the best way we knew to rid ourselves of the stress of city living. The donation is a fitting chapter to the legacy to the members of our group who loved this place with all their hearts.”

With the property now under the stewardship of DUC, protecting the delicate ecosystems, while providing recreational opportunities to visitors is an on-going balancing act. Public access is not currently permitted. The existing Trans Canada Trail and Beaver River Wetland trail offers the opportunity to get out into nature, get active and perhaps see some wildlife.

The Beaver River land donation is a prime example of natural or ‘green’ infrastructure. What distinguishes natural infrastructure is its ability to provide multiple positive outcomes, including biodiversity improvements, habitat protection, climate adaptation, carbon sequestration and other ecosystem services.

To date, DUC has successfully conserved more than 1 million acres of wetlands and adjacent habitat such as grassland, forest, or other upland habitats, across Ontario. Wetlands are hardworking ecosystems that deliver cleaner water, capture carbon and nutrients, and preserve and increase habitats for waterfowl and other wildlife including endangered species. Together, these habitats contribute to a healthy, functioning landscapes for wildlife and communities.

DUC is grateful to the Yacking Ducks for donating the property so that the critical waterfowl habitats on Beaver River remain protected for years to come.

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