Couple donates 27 acres to protect species at risk and rare forest in New Brunswick
Bob Bancroft and Alice Reed donated 27 acres of their land in New Brunswick.
And they couldn’t be happier about it.
This land, located in Gagetown, is now a nature preserve and will be forever protected by Nature Trust New Brunswick, a non-profit land conservation organization.
Bancroft, Nova Scotia biologist and regular CBC guest maritime noonsaid he and his wife Alice found the land by chance when they started looking for a property in Gagetown in 2015 so they could live near friends for part of the year.
They have a boat at the marina in Gagetown which they use to go up and down the St. John River, but it’s not ideal for long term living.
« Although we could stay there for three or four days, it’s small, so we decided we’d better have a land base, » Bancroft said. Change.
« We were very lucky, just found this property next to our friends…which fit the bill very well in the village of Gagetown. »
One day in 2016, while Bancroft and Reed were working on building a campsite on their land, he decided to explore the depths of the property for the first time.
« I came across this amazing floodplain…many of the trees were about 30 meters apart, but their canopy shielded them from the afternoon sun, so they caught all the sun’s rays « , did he declare.
Bancroft said what’s most important about the forest, filled with silver maples, is that they look like they’ve never been felled.
He said it’s rare in New Brunswick to find trees that haven’t been cut three or four times.
« Later that day I grabbed Alice and said, ‘Well, you gotta go see what we got here.' »
He was amazed to discover that the land was home to a multitude of species, including moose, foxes, bears, otters and at least two types of turtles – the snapping turtle and the wood turtle.
He also found a stream that flows into Harts Lake, an important spawning ground for speckled trout.
Bancroft said he soon discovered their land served as a refuge because of the areas around it that had been clearcut or developed.
“It’s interesting because those big big pines, the bears would get up there on a windy day just to cool off… it’s like the air conditioning up there,” he said.
« The creek is beautiful, beavers have tended it for thousands of years…the creeks are full of dams. »
They decided they needed to protect these lands and contacted Nature Trust New Brunswick.
Bancroft and Reed donated 27.2 acres of their 34-acre land, which is now officially protected as a nature preserve.
Stephanie Merrill, CEO of Nature Trust New Brunswick, said the property is « a really special place. »
“Bob and Alice’s property is beautiful. It’s an example of old-growth forest that we all know is becoming increasingly rare in New Brunswick,” Merrill said.
She said the silver maple floodplain forest found on the property is important for the protection of river systems and flood control.
Merrill said the land also has wetlands, which are breeding grounds for birds and reptiles.
The Land Donation Process
Nature Trust has been working to protect New Brunswick lands since 1987, according to its website.
He says he has curated over 11,000 acres of land at over 70 sites.
Merrill said a lot of work has gone into certifying the land as a nature reserve and protecting the land for years.
“Conserving private land is really rewarding and, of course, a lot of work and a really big decision,” Merrill said.
« It’s a long commitment on our part and the families. »
Nature Trust must first determine if the land is ecologically significant, supports endangered species or has unique features including wetlands, bogs or floodplain forests.
From there, a conversation ensues about what the owners of the land would like to see protected and how much of the property would be given away.
« There are many options…we can tailor the options to the needs of the individual or the family, » Merrill said.
Once the land is protected it is monitored and cleaned by Nature Trust members and all trails on the land are maintained for public use.
The organization carries out surveys to understand the plants, birds and other species in the reserve.
« We keep track of how conserved lands provide habitat and how we can see changes in species sightings over time through newly conserved lands, » Merrill said.
She said New Brunswick still lags behind in land protection nationally.
The national average for protected land is 13.5%, Merrill said.