As of spring 2014, Windmill Ranch became part of the Carden Alvar Provincial Park.
The Couchiching Conservancy worked with the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Ontario Parks and other conservation partners to purchase this 647 hectare property in 2006. The acquisition of this land, immediately to the east of the Cameron Ranch Alvar, helps create a large block of protected natural lands on the Carden Plain. These protected lands are a model for alvar conservation and stewardship in North America.
John Arthur Hawtin ranched with his father, and later with Noreen, until his late 80s. Then, he was pleased to see the unique lands of the ranch come under the protection of the Nature Conservancy of Canada, the Couchiching Conservancy and other groups for future generations of nature lovers and bird watchers to enjoy. An article was written about about John in the Globe and Mail – you can read it here.
- 647 hectares of complex grasslands, alvars, shrub lands and wetlands; encompasses a large portion of the Wylie Road Alvar site
- areas of deeper soils and old each ridges have white cedar, white spruce and poplar forests
- crossed by provincially-significant Sedge Wren Marsh (majority is private property) which provides habitat for yellow rails and other marsh species
- habitat for many plant and butterfly species including characteristics alvar species
- many grasslands birds including upland sandpipers, grasshopper, field, and vesper sparrows
- Over 4 km of frontage on Wylie Road, a popular access route for birders
Visit this Nature Reserve
Best time to visit: May and June
From Orillia, take Hwy 12 east and turn left onto County Road 46; follow past Lake Dalrymple on City of Kawartha Lakes Road 6; left on MacNamee Road at the Carden Plain IBA sign; left again onto Wylie Road. Watch for sign on the left after 1 km. Note: Because of the hazards associated with cattle grazing in the Ranch and its remote interior, public access is restricted to guided groups with prior approval. most of the species can be readily seen from Wylie Road. Call (705) 326-1620 to arrange visits.
Sedge Wren Marsh Trail:
Access: From parking area on Wylie Road, just south of Sedge Wren Marsh
Trail length: + 1.5 km loop
Difficulty: Easy walking; may be wet in spots
Points of interest: Most of the trail is in coniferous woodland with large white cedar and white spruce trees. Trail follows the edge of Sedge Wren Marsh and beaver pond, with American Bittern, Swamp Sparrow, Kingfisher, and other wetland species. Forest has Black-throated Green Warbler, Pileated Woodpecker, Hermit Thrush.
Cautions: Poison Ivy is abundant in places; wear protective clothing.