Thames Talbot Land Trust
The idea of establishing a local land trust developed within the McIlwraith Field Naturalists (Nature London) in the late 1990s. In the year 2000, the Thames Talbot Land Trust (TTLT) was launched as a separate entity. TTLT is a registered Canadian charity, governed by a volunteer Board of Directors.
From these early beginnings to the present, Nature London and TTLT have worked together to protect ecologically significant land in the London region. The trust employs a small, hard- working staff consisting of an Executive Director, Conservation Lands Manager, Stewardship and Outreach Coordinator and an Administration and Engagement Coordinator. Through the support of the Canada Summer Jobs program, again in 2022 TTLT was able to hire three students. They provided much-needed assistance to the stewardship program, and in the office.
This report for Nature London members touches on some highlights of Thames Talbot Land Trust activities during the period September 2021 to August 2022. TTLTT’s Financial Statements for the year ending December 31, 2021, are available at https://www.thamestalbotlandtrust.ca/ . Click on the “About Us” tab, and then on Financial Statements.
During the fall of 2021, celebration events were held at two nature reserves that had been acquired during the previous year. On September 25, 2021, TTLT supporters gathered near Ingersoll to mark the establishment of Ross’s Woods, a 56-acre portion of Five Points Woods Wetland Complex. Then, on October 3, 2021, in West Elgin, a special event acknowledged the donation of MeadowWoods. This 105-acre reserve was donated to TTLT by Anita and Stan Caveney, long-time members of Nature London.
Birding hikes on May 21, 2022, introduced visitors to the trails at Sitler Woods, a TTLT nature reserve that was purchased in 2019. Restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic caused a delay in celebrating the securement of this significant swamp forest in the Skunk’s Misery area.
In 2022, more new lands were added to the TTLT portfolio of protected areas. In May, a crowd gathered to celebrate the opening of the Wachner Nature Preserve, a 23-acre parcel in the Dorchester Swamp. This reserve was donated to TTLT by Ann and Fritz Wachner, who lived on the property for many years. Then, in June, supporters gathered for a celebration at Boview Farm on Vanneck Road in Middlesex Centre. Boview Farm, an 88-acre parcel along Oxbow Creek, was a bequest from the estate of the late Mary and Dr. Paul Harding.
Also in 2022, the Auzins Nature Sanctuary was officially transferred to TTLT ownership. Karen and Eric Auzins donated 51 acres of land along the Dingman Creek valley. The Auzins sanctuary was one of seven projects included in TTLT’s Vision 20/20 campaign. With this generous donation in place, the Vision 20/20 campaign was declared complete.
An Eco-Grant from Nature London in 2021 funded the replacement of two pedestrian bridges at Five Points Forest – Driedger Tract. The new bridges were officially opened in May of 2022, and provide a safer, more enjoyable experience for trail users. Thank you to Nature London for this support.
The 2022 season of TTLT’s Passport to Nature program commenced in early May. With fewer pandemic restrictions in place, it has been possible to provide more in-person events this year, although some webinars were provided as well. Passport to Nature continues to be a good way of introducing new people to the Land Trust. Sponsorship revenue from the Passport to Nature program in 2022 exceeded $25,000.
Over the past two years, TTLT has been developing an outreach program called Diversifying Conservation. With funding from TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, TTLT has organized events aimed at Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) communities. The goal is to connect with these communities and build relationships while helping people to access nature. One of the most successful activities was a butterfly event at Meadowlily. Lessons learned during the first year helped to shape the development of the program for year two which continues until March of 2023.
Volunteers are essential to the operations of TTLT and assist in many ways. New volunteers are always welcome! Possible roles include serving on the board and committees, helping to organize and run events, and leading nature walks, as well as “hands-on” work at reserves. Workdays are scheduled from time to time for maintenance of trails and removal of invasive species such as garlic mustard, buckthorn, and autumn olive. Once the invasive plants have been eliminated, native species may recolonize the site, or may be encouraged through planting. In some cases, participation in a workday may provide the opportunity to visit a reserve that is normally closed to the public. While some TTLT reserves are open to the public, many are not. Please check the website for guidance on which reserves are open to visitors.
There are several ways to keep up to date on the activities of TTLT. Members and friends of TTLT receive a newsletter, the Tattler. Electronic communications include regular updates through email, Facebook, Instagram and the website. Financial contributions to support the work of TTLT are always welcome, and monthly donations are encouraged. Check the “Make a Donation” button at https://www.thamestalbotlandtrust.ca/ .
TTLT thanks Nature London and its members for ongoing support. We look forward to working together on more projects in future.
Dave Wake, TTLT Liaison