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September 2023

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As the autumn migration of birds, the seed caching of squirrels, and the changing of the leaves gets under way, we are able to enjoy time outside observing the change in season while secretly hoping that September will last a few more months!

On a recent visit to conduct a survey at the new Deverell-Morton Nature Reserve I was able to witness a wide variety of birds, from sandhill cranes to a variety of warblers and sparrows taking advantage of this wild, and now protected, land as they feed and rest on their long journey south. There were also many signs of the resident moose, white-tailed deer, and bear populations traversing the landscape and feeding in preparation for the cold months ahead. Seeing all of these natural processes take place, over large tracts of protected and connected landscapes, drives home the importance creating nature reserves for these species and ecosystems. 

Between Deverell-Morton, Wolf Run, and Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC)'s North Bear Nature Reserves, there are now over 15,000 acres of contiguous protected habitat for flora and fauna to thrive in! This is a crucial anchor in our effort to create a protected wildlife corridor from Turnbull Ranch Nature Reserve in the south all the way up to the Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands Provincial Park in the north. Connected permeable landscapes with larger pockets of protected land will become more invaluable as species adapt to anthropogenic pressures.

Toby Rowland

Conservation Biologist

Deverell-Morton Nature Reserve:

417-acres in the Carden Alvar protected!

The Couchiching Conservancy is overjoyed to announce the protection of the Deverell-Morton Nature Reserve! This 169-hectare (417-acre) parcel is in Carden Township, 35km east of Orillia.

The Deverell-Morton property falls within the Carden Alvar Area of Natural and Scientific Interest and fills in a significant piece of the broader Carden corridor. This area connects to the Black River Wildlands Corridor to the north. It is directly adjacent to Wolf Run Alvar Nature Reserve and North Bear Nature Reserve. The property provides ecosystem goods and services to the community, including carbon storage, the removal of air pollution and flood water storage. By storing carbon and buffering local communities from the impacts of increasingly severe weather events, the property is an excellent example of the nature-based solutions needed to help combat climate change.

“To protect the land, that’s in our nature,” shared a member of the Deverell-Morton family. “We always wanted the property to go to The Couchiching Conservancy and it was the right time to make that happen.”


Grant's Woods Nature Reserve's Accessible Trail is complete!

Our newly upgraded accessible trail is officially open!

We closed Grant's Woods Nature Reserve from August 14th-September 1st as we upgraded the Periwinkle trail to make it truly handicap accessible. This involved reframing the trail, laying new stone, flattening it, removing hazards, and refinishing a bridge.

So much hard work, planning and support went into this process from staff, volunteers, local companies, and generous donors. Thank you to all involved! We hope that this accessible trail will be a great resource to anyone in the community who feels they need extra accessibility to enjoy nature. 

Come on over for a hike and check out the new-and-improved accessible trail!

Dorthea, Quinlan, Carsten, Lucas (staff), and Ron, Janet, Kristi, and Don (Accessible Trails Committee) do a ceremonious ribbon cutting of the upgraded accessible trail

Calling all Artists!

We are holding an art contest in celebration of our 30th anniversary, coming up on November 13th, 2023.


The Couchiching Conservancy has been working tirelessly thanks to supporters to safeguard our region's rich biodiversity, from pristine forests and sparkling lakes to diverse wildlife habitats. Since 1993, we have helped protect over 14,000-acres of wilderness – an area double the size of the City of Orillia! It is this very natural splendor that has motivated countless artists throughout history to create breathtaking works of art. Nature's vibrant colors, intricate patterns, and timeless beauty have served as the foundation for some of the world's most cherished masterpieces.


In support of the Angela Rehhorn Community Science Fund

Join us on October 25th, with seatings at 5:30 and 7:30pm for a four course dinner. Tickets can be purchased for $75 each at Brewery Bay: 117 Mississaga St E, or (705)-329-0943.


National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Each year, September 30 marks the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The day honours the children who never returned home and Survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and communities. Here are two events in Orillia that you can attend or participate in to mark this significant day:

September 26th: Free special screening of "Orange Shirt Day" featuring Phyllis Webstad, hosted by the Orillia Public Library. Showings at 1:30 and 6:30pm. Everyone welcome; no registration required. Free. More details here.

September 30th: National Day of Truth & Reconciliation, 3rd annual community event hosted by Orillia Native women's group, Mamaway Wiidokdaadwin, and Biminaawzogin Regional Aboriginal Women's Circle. More details here.

Where Art Meets Nature: Art Trees of Oro-Medonte

"I have always lived around trees. In the mountains of Colorado and Southern British Columbia they were something I took for granted. Now living here in the beautiful forests of deciduous hardwoods, I find myself appreciating them in a new way. Recently I took a drive through Craighurst and visited the Art Trees there. The creative and unique ways that artists have interpreted and created these trees made me really think about all that trees do for us. Being a volunteer with the Couchiching Conservancy, this also made me reflect on the vital work the Conservancy does in protecting these incredible natural resources..."


Deb Halbot Photography

Fundraisers: Thank you!

We were on the radio! From August 14th to September 9th, an ad for the Conservancy was airing on both Bounce (104.1) & Pure Country (105.9) between songs every couple of hours, encouraging listeners to support our work by making a donation. Thank you to Bounce Radio for holding this fundraiser for our efforts to protect nature!

A big, *big* thank you to the BluMoose Alvar Ride! Thank you Adrian and Lorraine, thank you participants, thank you Board members!

Over 85 riders completed a 90km or 140km route, and contributed over $15,000 towards helping us protect the beautiful landscapes of the Carden Alvar. They had a perfect day for the ride in memory of Danya Leemhuis.

What did we get up to this summer?

On August 21, Quinlan, Carsten and Lucas led a workshop at Scout Valley (a conservation easement we hold with the City of Orillia) where water monitors had a chance to investigate the benthic macroinvertebrates living in Mill Creek. Benthic macroinvertebrates are small aquatic animals without backbones who live in the sediment, on plants, logs and other substrate in water. These include crustaceans like crayfish, as well as the larvae of caddisflies, dragonflies, mayflies, stoneflies, worms, water beetles, and even freshwater clams and snails.


Thank you Quinlan, Carsten, and Lucas!

Thank you to our summer staff Quinlan and Carsten, who have been with us for the past three months as part of a Canada Summer Jobs initiative. From community science monitoring and data analyzing, to invasive species removal to trail reconstruction, we are so thankful for all their help this summer!

Thank you to our Interim Reserve Steward Lucas, who has been filling in for the last few months and was instrumental in coordinating the accessible trail reconstruction and summer staff!

Brandon Guoth is now back full time as our Reserve Steward, and property maintenance inquiries can be directed to him.

Welcome back to The Villager!

Back in May, we wished a sad farewell to The Villager - a community news magazine serving Severn Township since 2013. We are excited to share that The Villager has since been taken over and is back under new leadership. It has been a staple in The Conservancy's communications for years and we are grateful to continue to be a part of the community of readers and writers.

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Charitable #: 13972 5030 RR0001

Office: 705-326-1620