St. David's Island

St. David’s Island Project, Georgian Bay, Georgian Bay Land Trust

The property is approximately 13.4 acres (5.42 hectares) in size and includes all of St. Davids Island.  There are no buildings, docks, boardwalks or other structures of any kind on the island.  St. Davids Island has been identified as a priority for conservation by the Georgian Bay Land Trust and as a Priority 1 property for land securement by the Nature Conservancy of Canada in its Eastern Georgian Bay Coast Natural Area Plan for Pointe au Baril.  The shoreline is irregular with several sheltered bays and includes small pockets of coastal meadow marsh.  St. Davids Island is rarely visited, and no formal inventories for species at risk have been conducted, but frequent occurrences of the eastern foxsnake (a federally endangered species) and sightings of the eastern massasauga rattlesnake (a threatened species) have been reported on a neighboring island.

Evelyn Newell reports that she believes her great-grandfather bought St. Davids island from the Crown and gave it to her grandmother who shows up as the first person on the title in 1909. The property passed to Evelyn’s mother and aunt, who in turn deeded it to their children nearly 30 years ago. Those seven children now have their own grandchildren. As is the case for so many families who have had a relationship to a place for generations, it was deemed impractical to pass the island to the ever-expanding cadre of cousins and second cousins.

To protect the property from development, the Newell and Suter families transfered St Davids Island, in the Pointe au Baril area of Georgian Bay to American Friends. American Friends made it possible for the seven owners to protect land they genuinely love.

Photo Credit: Gary & Joanie McGuffin

Gargantua Islands Project (Lake Superior Watershed Conservancy)

The Gargantua Islands range in size from ½ acre to 54 acres. The largest and best known is named Devil’s Warehouse because of its dramatic rock formations. Peregrine falcons, a “species at risk” in Canada, nest on the cliffs of Devil’s Warehouse. Area naturalists have documented caribou swimming out to the islands to calve, seeking refuge from predators. The Gargantua Islands Archipelago is the first gift American Friends has received in Lake Superior.

Visitors to Lake Superior Provincial Park have assumed that the archipelago’s unique geologic formations, indigenous rock art, pocket beaches and wildlife habitat were already protected. However, an American family, originally from Detroit, has owned the islands since the early 1900’s. When the current generation of family members decided to dispose of the islands, LSWC arranged for them to donate their property to American Friends so their gift would be tax deductible in the United States. LWSC, with help from volunteers and park staff, will be responsible for stewardship of the islands.

Lake Superior Watershed Conservancy is one of the leaders of an effort to establish an international Lake Superior Heritage Coast Corridor. The designation would promote eco-tourism and advance preservation of the wild, scenic and pristine character of this beautiful area.

Old Man's Creek

Old Man’s Creek, Ahmic Lake, Ontario (Magnetawan Watershed Land Trust)

Ted is part of a multi-generational tradition of summers in the cottage community at Ahmic Lake. He was inspired to buy the old farms along Old Man’s Creek by a childhood memory of family visits to a waterfall and swimming hole that was lost to development; a personal tragedy for everyone who had enjoyed that place.

The Magnetawan Watershed Land Trust (MWLT), a young nonprofit formed to conserve this part of Ontario, partnered with American Friends to make the gift possible.

According to Dexter Coolidge, President of MWLT, “This is one of the loveliest, quietest and wildest areas on the lake.” Of both ecological and historic interest, the newly created preserve includes locally-beloved Old Man’s Creek Falls, trails along the creek and a natural landing used by canoeists, picnickers and nature-lovers. The Preserve will be managed by MWLT to protect its natural, historical, scenic and recreational values. MWLT’s leaders envision expanding the Preserve through purchases and gifts of contiguous properties.

Delta/Eaton Lodge, Manitoba – (Ducks Unlimited Canada)

Internationally known for its breeding and migratory habitat for wildlife, especially birds, Delta Marsh is one of the largest freshwater wetlands in North America. It is a 15 miles-long and up to 2 miles-wide network of shallow lakes near the south shore of Lake Manitoba.

In 2011, American Friends was given the largest privately owned property on the marsh, complete with a traditional facility for duck hunters, known as Eaton Lodge.  The gift made by four Americans who are avid duck hunters and conservationists, permanently conserved 1,285 acres of wetland and low-lying grassland. Dr. Dale Neil, one of the donors, described it as a “unique property, with the lodge on a peninsula that extends way out into the marsh, two lakes and lots of habitat for ducks to breed.”  This donation was not only ecologically significant, it was also crucial to the launch of American Friends’ Conservation Lands Program.

Recently American Friends transferred Eaton Lodge to Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) for permanent protection and stewardship. The transfer represents a significant milestone for American Friends because it is the first time it has granted a property to one of its Canadian partners. DUC arranged the donation to American Friends of this ecologically and historically significant resource as a strategic element of its “Delta Marsh – Restoring the Tradition” initiative.

Over the past 50 to 60 years duck populations at Delta Marsh have been steadily declining due to changing water levels, invasive plants, local agricultural practices and most recently a massive influx of invasive common carp. Restoring the Tradition is a multi-million dollar project to reverse damage at Delta Marsh, including a system to keep the carp out of areas that traditionally had sustained waterfowl.

Dr. Neil recalls that the DUC initiative appealed to him and his partners, Ron Desideri, Ted Herrick and Jim Krughoff. “We wanted to help so when DUC approached us about donating the Eaton property we were excited about how our gift could boost the project.”  The partners took the donation idea to their accountants and found there were substantial tax advantages associated with giving the property to American Friends, as suggested by DUC staff.

The Eaton Lodge property is bordered on three sides by provincial Wildlife Management Areas, and adjacent to other DUC projects, which add to its conservation value. Over time DUC, and the donors, hope to see the return of the huge flocks of canvasback, redheads, scaup, ring-necked ducks and blue-winged teal that historically sustained the aboriginal peoples and attracted famous hunting enthusiasts from around the world including The Duke of Cornwall (later King George V) and, later, his son Prince Edward.

“The donation of Eaton Lodge helped solidify our path forward in Restoring the Tradition, and the leveraged funds will not only aid the carp exclusion project, but will help to fund the upcoming science program,” said Bob Grant, DUC manager of provincial operations for Manitoba, in an article in Conservator magazine. [link] The board of American Friends is very pleased to have had a role in protecting the marshland and grasslands of the Eaton Lodge property, and assisting DUC with its ambitious initiative. Mark Francis, the head of habitat retention for DUC, said “The donation of this large tract of the Delta Marsh is a tremendous asset to staging waterfowl on a continental scale. DUC is proud to accept this gift made possible by a generous group of U.S. conservationists. We are happy to partner with AF and assist in the mapping out of the process for the first property transfer, which we anticipate will lead to further gifts and protect additional valuable Canadian habitats.

The donors are pleased with the collaboration too. “Our gift would not have been possible without American Friends,” said Dr. Neil, as he packed his bags for his annual trip north to Delta Marsh.

Little Annapolis Lake

Little Annapolis Lake Conservation Easement, Nova Scotia – (Nova Scotia Nature Trust)

This easement permanently protects 130 acres of forest and wetlands that form a contiguous tract of rare undisturbed shoreline around the 15-acre lake. The property is within 10 kilometers of the Tobeatic Wilderness Area and 20 kilometers of Kejimkujik National Park, the largest wilderness area and national park in the province, respectively. The older forest stands on the property are typical of climax Acadian forest and are considered rare and of high conservation value. The donor, who is a leader in conservation in the US, has worked for years to ensure that her property will remain as a sanctuary for generations to come.

Ingersoll Island, Georgian Bay, Ontario – (Georgian Bay Land Trust)

ingersoll-island-smallIngersoll Island is located along the eastern shore of Georgian Bay in Lake Huron, adjacent to GBLT’s Sandy Island Reserve. This is GBLT’s largest reserve, protecting 425 acres of regionally rare community types, such as red oak-beech forest, which are also recognized as significant at a national and/or global scale. In addition, the intact, undisturbed nature of the majority of both Sandy Island and Ingersoll Island provide for high quality habitat for many rare plant and animal species, including the eastern Massasaugua rattlesnake, listed as threatened in Canada and globally rare. Two elderly sisters with a long history of summering in Georgian Bay donated fee title to 47 acres of their 50-acre island to American Friends.