Frequently Asked Questions
The Couchiching Conservancy is a non-profit , non-government land trust, with a broad community membership. Land trusts acquire and retain important properties for the benefit of the public. The Couchiching Conservancy protects more than 14,000 acres of ecologically significant land in the Orillia region, either through direct ownership, partnerships with other organizations such as The Nature Conservancy of Canada, or through conservation easement agreements with private landowners. The Conservancy also promotes good stewardship with private landowners and other partners. The Conservancy is not part of government but works with all levels of government and government agencies.
The Couchiching Conservancy was established by concerned naturalists in Orillia and surrounding region. The key regions include:
- Carden Alvar
- Black River Wildlands
- Bass Lake West
- Matchedash Wildlands
- Minesing to Matchedash
The Conservancy nature reserves and easements are across the broad region and are accessible to the public (except where the stewardship plan precludes open access). See our Nature Reserve & Easement Map for the location of some of our properties. Trails have been developed at some of the Reserves.
It is important to tread lightly on the land and reduce the impact we are having on nature and the species who call it home.
- Nature appreciation
- Cross-country skiing (trails are not groomed)
- Dog walking, as long as you keep your pet(s) on a leash. This is for their safety and the enjoyment of others
Collection of material such as picking wildflowers, removal of wood, fossils, etc.
Harvesting and foraging
Shelters and stands
Yes, groups are permitted to visit the nature reserves that are open to the public.
For groups interested in visiting Grant's Woods Nature Reserves, we ask that you contact our office to book the date. This Reserve is also the location of our office and we have regular meetings and activities, so the parking lot can fill up quickly. A bus will not fit in our parking area and there is not enough space to turn around. We do not have Education staff, but may be able to connect you with a Conservancy volunteer if you are looking for a walk leader.
You can also check our Events Calendar to ensure there are not activities planned on other nature reserves.
If you are visiting the Carden Alvar and specifically Wylie Road, please be respectful of other visitors - do not block the road.
Yes, photographers need to book a date and time with our office and pay the associated fee. You can download the Booking Info Sheet here.
The Conservancy is a membership-based organization and receives contributions and donations from its members and supporters. To support specific projects, the Conservancy will seek donations and grants from foundations, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, and the provincial and federal government. Our goal is to diversify our funding sources to maintain independence and long-term sustainability.
The Conservancy has a mix of paid staff and volunteers. Sometimes university and college students supplement our paid staff during the field season. However, the Conservancy could not function without volunteers. Each nature reserve and easement in our care is monitored by a team of volunteers, overseen by staff. There are hundreds of volunteers registered with the Conservancy, including a governing Board of Directors. We are continually seeking new volunteers.
The Conservancy has priority regions and actively seeks properties within these regions of environmental significance. The individual properties may be donated, acquired through purchase following a fundraising campaign, acquired through partnerships with other organizations (such as Ontario Heritage Trust, Ontario Parks or the Nature Conservancy of Canada). The Conservancy also holds Conservation Easements on private properties. These easements are donated by the owners of the properties with mutually agreed upon restrictions. The easements are registered on the title of the properties. Ownership remains with the land owner and the easement stays with the property once it is sold.
No, the Conservancy does not get involved in lobbying or political activity. The Conservancy has sought to bring about change through “third way thinking” rather than using an adversarial or advocacy approach. From time to time, the Conservancy may provide information to a government or community organization involved in an environmental issue. As well, the Conservancy may be able to help provide a solution to an environmental issue through development of a conservation easement (such as Scout Valley in Orillia) or out-right acquisition of threatened lands.
We are not a wildlife rehabilitation organization. Please visit www.ontariowildliferescue.ca for information on who to call.