Mieke Schipper and her family have donated a conservation easement agreement to the Kawartha Land Trust on their 100-acre Pigeon Lake property.
The Schipper’s property between Emily Park and Bobcaygeon is the home of Gamiing Nature Centre, which is named for the Ojibwa word for “near the shore”.
The agreement was celebrated at the Gamiing Nature Centre’s annual Family Day Winterlude event on Monday (February 19), which was attended by around 200 people.
The Schipper family purchased the 100-acre property in 1984 when it was an abandoned farm. They first allowed the land to revert to its natural state, and then — with the help of environmental organizations, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Rsources, and volunteers — planted hundreds of native trees on the property every few years.
When the property was sufficiently forested, trails were cut for hiking, skiing, horseback riding and for nature walks under a tree canopy. Later, with the Pigeon Lake Environmental Association, Mieke established Gamiing Nature Centre as a separate, charitable organization with a Board of Directors to guide the activities on the property.
The conservation easement agreement with Kawartha Land Trust protects the natural conservation values but continues to allow private ownership of the land.
“Thank you for your vision and generosity to conserve nature for future generations,” said Eva Kennedy of the KLT Board of Directors. “It’s wonderful to see so many kids and families here today having fun while learning about nature. Thank you for your passion in bringing people together.”
The Schipper property includes 1,200 feet of undeveloped shoreline on Pigeon Lake, 30 acres of wetland that harbors species at risk including Least Bittern and Blanding’s Turtles, and is both a provincially designated Area of Natural and Scientific Interest and a Provincially Significant Wetland.
Seven kilometres of trails on the property are open to the public and are used for education and events run through the Gamiing Nature Centre, which is owned and operated separate from the Kawartha Land Trust.
“I want my granddaughters to drink fresh, healthy water, breathe fresh healthy air and eat fresh and healthy food,” Mieke said. “I’m just so happy to know the land that I love will be protected in perpetuity for generations yet to come.”
Kawartha Land Trust is a non-governmental organization and registered charity dedicated to conserving the natural environment and enhancing quality of life in the Kawarthas. Since its formation in 2001, the organization has secured 13 properties comprising 3,217 acres of diverse and significant landscapes with a donated land value of $6.9 million.