Land Trust hopes Whitteker will lift program

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The Haliburton Highlands Land Trust (HHLT) has announced that Rick Whitteker will be its new Partners in Conservation (PIC) coordinator.

Whitteker’s role will support private landowners who have joined the PIC program, and raise the program’s profile in hopes of recruiting more conservation partners, the HHLT said in a recent media release.

Whitteker has lived in Haliburton County since 1997, originally working for Haliburton Forest as an outdoor educator. He followed that with 15 years at Fleming College as a faculty and coordinator of the Outdoor and Adventure Education program.

Whitteker said, “for many years, I have enjoyed the outdoors recreationally and as a guide, interpreter, writer, and educator. The PIC coordinator position is a great opportunity to give back to nature by supporting private landowner conservation efforts. I am especially excited to be involved in HHLT’s local conservation effort called the Highlands Corridor.”

Shelley Hunt, chair of HHLT, added, “we’re delighted to have Rick fulfill this important role. His experience and enthusiasm for the Highlands Corridor project will help attract further partners in conservation.”

The position will be funded by Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Schad Foundation.

The corridor covers approximately 100,000 hectares and connects three provincial parks in Ontario: Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands, just south of Minden, Kawartha Highlands in northern Peterborough County, and Silent Lake in Highlands East.

The Land Trust says biodiversity is rich in the corridor, with 40 species at risk, 25 provincially-significant species and 43 regionally-rare species. Wetland representation is high at 17.9 per cent, including 4,800 hectares of provinciallysignificant wetlands.

The HHLT is seeking protection of the unceded Crown land within the corridor (60,000 ha.) as a conservation reserve, with the goal of protecting species at risk, providing a natural wildlife corridor, protecting wetland habitats, increasing biodiversity, and strengthening climate change resiliency.

The Land Trust added the PIC program targets landowners committed to landscape conservation with properties that strategically bridge gaps between fragmented Crown land within the corridor. The program provides a property tax incentive for a 10-year term through enrollment in Ontario’s Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program, assisting landowners in developing management plans with objectives of enhancing environmental protection and wildlife habitat.

“The PIC program has been very successful with a current portfolio of 1,740 ha of private land supporting the conservation effort,” the Land Trust said.

For more information on the Land Trust and the PIC program, go to haliburtonlandtrust.ca or email info@ haliburtonlandtrust.ca.