Thousands of feet of shoreline on a Lake Rosseau island is now under the protection of Muskoka Conservancy.
The Lang and Mersky families have bought Highlands Island, located near Minett, and donated two of its six lots to the conservation organization.
Scott Young, Executive Director of Muskoka Conservancy, says the two lots make up about half the island, along the northeastern shore. According to Young, the donation protects about 25 acres of natural forest along 3,500 feet of shoreline.
Young says the properties were zoned for development, and credits the two families for looking beyond the multi-million dollar value.
“As everybody I think understands, that’s worth a lot on the open market in a place like Muskoka, where you have two lots that are zoned for development on the waterfront,” says Young. “So that’s just sacrificing dollars to do the right thing, and do the right thing by nature in Muskoka.”
Young says that the two families bought the island to stop a proposal which would add several extra lots and fully develop the island. He adds the four lots making up the other half of the island had already been developed by previous occupants.
According to Young, the land is Muskoka Conservancy’s first protected area on Lake Rosseau. He says the few dozen feet where water meets land helps stop erosion, and is significant to every species in the area, as all living things need water to survive.
“There’ll be more species concentration in that transition zone than anywhere else in the landscape,” says Young. “We need to pay attention to protecting some natural shoreline if we want to keep the species we’ve come to expect in Muskoka.”
The organization is in the process of rezoning the land as an environmentally protected area. Young says there are currently no plans to make the island public-access, but that there’s the possibility of expert-guided hikes through the area.