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Key Prince Edward County wetland protected

Mark Bass Nature Reserve, Prince Edward County. – Nina-Marie Lister photo

Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) announced the protection of 15 hectares (38 acres) of wetland and forest on Prince Edward County’s south shore.

Thanks to the generous support of donors Jeremy Guth and Nina-Marie Lister, the national not-for-profit, private land conservation organization purchased the natural habitat.

The Mark Bass Nature Reserve contains a collection of marsh, swamp and coastal wetlands — important for local flood mitigation — as well as upland forests and fields that can be restored to natural habitat. The reserve is home to the at-risk Blanding’s turtle, as well as waterfowl, such as mallard and wood duck.

Since 1993, the property has been cared for and stewarded by Mark Bass, a local teacher with a keen interest in conservation. Over the years, he spent countless hours on the property, restored a pond and brought many students there to plant trees and enjoy nature. When it came time to sell his land, Bass wanted to ensure that its conservation values would be protected for the long term.

“My heart is in this property,” said Bass. “It is a place where I worked to promote its health and biodiversity — where I could serve and give back to the Earth. Many of the trees were planted by myself, my students, my family and friends. Building the pond promotes amphibian and reptile biodiversity. This land is sacred to me, and I would only have sold it to the Nature Conservancy of Canada, who will continue this vision.”

The property is located at the western edge of the Prince Edward County South Shore Important Bird and Biodiversity Area. The site provides vital stopover habitat for a wide variety of migratory birds.

“As people who have dedicated our personal and professional lives to the conservation and restoration of natural systems and ecosystems, we feel fortunate to work with NCC and to enable their purchase of the Mark Bass Nature Reserve,” said Guth. “The Bass land is a ‘patch’ in the ‘quilt’ of public and private land that collectively makes up one of the few remaining natural shorelines of ecological significance on Lake Ontario, including the nearby Point Petre Provincial Wildlife Area” added Lister.

“My family spent many summer holidays just down the road from this property,” said Mark Stabb, NCC program director. “It is fantastic to be able to protect some of these significant habitats that we have grown to love. All of us at NCC are so grateful to Jeremy and Nina-Marie for helping make this happen.”

This conservation success could not have been achieved without the support of local landowners and the community.

“There is an important, emerging role for private landowners, both as conservationists and farmers to play in the future of conservation in Prince Edward County,” said Guth and Lister. “We look forward to further collaboration with NCC on the protection of the intertwined ecological and cultural heritage values on our own property, which abuts the Mark Bass Nature Reserve. By doing this, we hope both to secure another significant piece of the south shore conservation quilt and to inspire others to follow, not just as conservationists, but as farmers, many of whom already understand and manage their farms with great understanding of and respect for nature.”

The latest in a series of new protected areas on the south shore of Prince Edward County, the Mark Bass Nature Reserve adds to a network of conservation lands, which includes the:
– 560-hectare (1,400-acre) Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area;
– 198-hectare (490-acre) Miller Family Nature Reserve, owned and stewarded by Hastings-Prince Edward Land Trust;
– 95-hectare (234-acre) Ducks Unlimited Canada property at Gravelly Point; and
– 86-hectare (212-acre) NCC nature reserve at Ostrander Point.

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