Environment Canada recognizes two Lanark County nature sanctuaries

When was the last time you stood in the middle of a lush, untouched forest and heard nothing more than the sounds of the earth? No cars driving by, no people talking, no cell phones ringing.

Take a step off the beaten path and enjoy an untouched natural experience at one – or more – of Lanark County’s protected properties, and experience nature in an award-winning region! Imagine drinking in the silence in a rare get-away where you can relax and unwind amongst the flora and fauna of Lanark County’s pristine woodlands and stunning landscapes.

Each year, thousands of visitors flock to Lanark County looking for just that experience, and in 2017 Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) has formally recognized not one, but two Lanark County locations that are perfect for communing with nature – CliffLAND and Keddy Nature Sanctuary, both Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust (MMLT) protected properties.

The recognition came as part of the celebrations for Canada’s 150th anniversary, and in appreciation of Canadians who donated lands, or interests in land through varying government programs. ECCC announced the 150 properties across Canada selected for recognition through the program. Engraved plaques will be installed in prominent locations on all selected properties, including KNS and CliffLAND.

Located in the Township of Lanark Highlands, CliffLAND is home to Blueberry Mountain, one of the Seven Wonders of Lanark County, and is the crown jewel of Lanark County’s natural assets. This 1,250 acre pristine wilderness property is found near Flower Station, and is the second largest legally protected area in Lanark County.

Hiking trails lead visitors to the top of two of the highest elevations in Lanark County, Blueberry Mountain and Pike’s Peak. Blueberry Mountain is home to two rare plant species not found elsewhere in Lanark County, northern snailseed pondweed, and Missouri willow, and 13 other rare species including Kalm’s hawkweed, white lettuce, night-flowering catchfly, panicled tick-trefoil, pipewort, round-leaved orchid, cut-leaved grape fern, slender cotton grass, filiform cotton grass, and rough sedge.

CliffLAND is open to the public, and visitors can expect to find a plethora of wildlife, and a 150-year-old pine grove and old cedar grove that includes a tree that’s over 300 years old!

On the other side of Lanark County, in the Township of Drummond North Elmsley, sits Keddy Nature Sanctuary, a property that encompasses close to a square mile of forest and wetland. The 530-acre sanctuary includes 141-acres of wetlands, 35 per cent of which are provincially significant. Century-old red oak and bur oak trees pepper the area, including a large stand of native hemlock.

Other natural wonders include 10 species of native orchids, and 10 species at risk, including butternut trees, Blanding’s turtle, snapping turtle, and the monarch butterfly. The area is also an ideal location for large populations of milkweed that are the perfect environment for breeding monarch butterflies.

Speaking of insects, Keddy Nature Sanctuary is a butterfly and insect haven, harboring more than two dozen cranefly, dragonfly, damselfly, butterfly and moth species! There are also two rare butterflies found on-site, the broad-winged skipper and the Appalachian brown.

The sanctuary boasts more than a dozen ponds, and a variety of wildlife like tree frogs, spring peepers, ospreys, blue herons, otters, ermine, fishers, and more than 100 species of birds like black-throated green warblers, ovenbirds, northern waterthrushes, scarlet tanagers, magnolia warblers, wood thrushes and red-shouldered hawks.

In 2014 this property was protected by a conservation easement agreement with MMLT. Visitors to the sanctuary can be accommodated with prior permission, particularly those interested in furthering knowledge of the biota.

Besides CliffLAND and Keddy Nature Sanctuary, MMLT also manages High Lonesome Nature Reserve, Rose Hill Nature Reserve, and Clydelands, protecting a total of more than 2,000 acres of pristine Lanark County woodlands and natural sites. With the exception of Keddy Nature Sanctuary and Clydelands, visits to MMLT’s other protected properties are possible by visiting the website at www.mmlt.ca.

Choose the path less traveled this year and explore pristine nature reserves in Lanark County!