The Haliburton Highlands Land Trust welcomed the public to its newest property with the opening of Barnum Creek Nature Reserve in Dysart et al Oct. 15.

After two years of preparing it, the Land Trust officially opened the 500- acre property to the public. It’s located five kilometres southeast of Haliburton village. The organization has created three recreational trails on the property, including maps and signs.

Leopoldina Dobrzensky, whose family donated the property in 2018, said the new reserve was made possible by the tremendous will of the Land Trust and its volunteers.

“In today’s challenging times, we need something called Vitamin N – which is Vitamin Nature – more than ever,” she said.

The trails total nearly seven kilometres through the property, which the Land Trust will maintain. The landscape also features forests, grassland and wetland. It is also home to a wide range of wildlife, including at-risk species.

Margaret Dobrzensky, Leopoldina’s daughter, said donating the land made sense.

“Why would we not? For us, it was always about the land, always was protecting the sensitive ecosystems home to a diversity of plants and wildlife,” she said.

She added the family has had the property for years and they worked to restore the forest area.

“We marvelled at nature’s ability to renew itself. Now the forest has matured and resolved and it’s ready for its next chapter,” she said. “Enjoy the magic of the Barnum Creek Nature Reserve as it awaits you.”

The reserve will allow hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and some bicycling. Motorcycles, snowmobiles, ATVs and camping are disallowed.

Land Trust board chair Greg Wickware said they expect the reserve will prove popular. Although not previously open to the public, it has played host to guided hikes during the Hike Haliburton Festival.

“We think it will be very busy,” he said. “This is a well-known property.”

He said a lot of effort went into readying the property and the Land Trust will protect it.

“It’s almost like the impossible dream come true,” Wickware said. “We’re just so thankful that we’re now open and people within the County, and all of Canada, can enjoy it.”

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