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Miller Family honoured at Nature Reserve commemoration

Miller-Reserve-commemorationUnder the old oak tree that was Cecil and Nina Miller’s favourite, four of their grandchildren witnessed the official commemoration of The Miller Family Nature Reserve, Sunday in South Marysburgh.

About 60 guests attended the unveiling of a boulder with a brass plaque honouring the history of the Miller family whose descendants sold the ecologically-significant land to the Hastings and Prince Edward Land Trust (HPELT) to be managed as a nature reserve.

Posing at the commemoration site were four members of the Miller family - Martin Miller, Peggy Neil, Penny Miller and Maurice Miller. Milton Miller was unable to attend.

Posing at the commemoration site were four members of the Miller family – Martin Miller, Peggy Neil, Penny Miller and Maurice Miller. Milton Miller was unable to attend.

The family approached the Land Trust in  hopes of finding a solution that would honour their family roots and protect he property located south of Hilltop Road between Helmer Road and Brewers Road in South Marysburgh.

The plaque indicates Cecil and Nina Miller were a quiet, industrious and unpretentious couple who are remembered respectfully and lovingly by family and neighbours. They were born in South Marysburgh and married in February, 1919. They spent their married lives on property south of Black River on the Miller Farm. The nature reserve land was used by the family for three generations and for many years pastured cattle, both theirs and other farmers’.

The HPELT secured $550,000 from the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Ontario Heritage Trust to purchase the 491-acre property. (The land survey revealed an additional 30 acres the Millers didn’t know they owned.) As part of the agreement, the HPELT also needed to secure $85,000 in a fund to manage the property in perpetuity.

Their appeal raised $130,000 in donations – the final push of which was credited to County naturalist Terry Sprague, whose newspaper column helped put the $85,000 goal over the top.

The reserve includes about 80 acres of provincially significant South Bay Coastal Wetland, evaluated by the Ministry of Natural Resources in 2003.

It also includes sensitive alvar – flat rock with virtually no soil in some areas – and oak savanna vegetation, both of which are rare in Canada.

Provincial species at risk in and near the reserve include the Blandings turtle, whippoor-will, black tern, short-eared owl, bobolink, eastern meadow lark, snapping turtle, milk snake and monarch butterfly.

“We do not have a lot of plans for the property,” said Dick Bird, of the HPELT. “It will look pretty much the same in 10 years. There may be a few hiking trails. This day of commemoration makes it available for people who want to hike, or Terry Sprague’s nature tours, or the birders or people like that who can give us a call. People wanting to run dirt bikes need not call.”

“The south shore of Prince Edward County is a pretty special place with amazing things going on here…,” said Stewart Murray, of the HPELT. “Twenty-five per cent of the world population of long tail ducks are on this side of Prince Edward County.

The reserve was acquired as part of the Land Trust’s Point Petre to Prince Edward Point Conservation Project designed to protect the natural heritage features of the point-to-point area, and is part of the Trust’s goal to protect habitat linkages from the shore of Lake Ontario to Algonquin Park.

“Stretching from the shore of Lake Ontario all the way up to Algonquin Park, this stretch of Lake Ontario shoreline, we feel, is the most important stretch of natural features that we have in our area,” said Murray. “It provides an Important Bird Area, allows migration of other forms of wildlife, dragonflies and the Blandings turtle – out there right now with a big smile, happy we have preserved this land.”

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  1. Doris Lane says:

    Wonderful contribution by the Miller family
    They are twice blessed, first owning such a piece of property and second for donating it to the land trust
    All the best to everyone involved

  2. Samantha says:

    I cannot tell you how amazingly happy I feel about this. As the County is consumed steadily, bit by bit, it is a wondrous thing that 400 acres or so will be left to be wild. Thank you Miller family – may many more emulate your example – and thank you Hastings and Prince Edward Land Trust for having the vision and the resources to bring this about. I am a big fan and will shortly be an active supporter.

  3. Snowman says:

    huge thank you to The Miller Family. Now there will be one
    piece of Prince Edward County that will be as it was when the Loyalists arrived.

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