July 2020 Newsletter

In This Issue:

MMLT relies on the support of generous community members and businesses to continue and expand its work.  In normal times, MMLT would be hosting its popular ‘Discover the Wild’ series of field workshops, bringing nature enthusiasts (like you) together with expert guides to explore various aspects of the environment on our properties. These and other fundraising events would traditionally provide the income needed to meet our annual goals. But, these are not normal times.
So this year MMLT, together with radio station LAKE 88.1 FM, is trying something new and different. If we can’t bring people together to explore nature, we will bring expert naturalists to listeners in their homes.
LAKE 88.1 FM will broadcast a one-hour Radiothon to benefit the Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust.  Special guests, Ed Lawrence, noted horticulturalist and naturalist, Michael Runtz, will share their experiences exploring MMLT properties and bring to life the intriguing plants and animals found there.  Howard Clifford and MMLT President, Bob Betcher will also explain what a Land Trust does, why it's important, and how listeners can help support conservation in our area.

Not around on the 25th? Donate Today!
Approximately 20 members attended MMLT’s Annual General Meeting which was held on-line on Wednesday evening, May 27.
Participants were shown highlights from 2019 including the 8 Discover the Wild field workshops, the Festival of the Wild Child, and the Fall Gala. MMLT saluted the businesses that had sponsored these events. It was noted that the number of members had increased in 2019 and that 80 members had volunteered their time and energy to make it all happen. MMLT expressed its gratitude to its donors for their generous financial contributions, so essential to its work. 
Our President, Bob Betcher, gave a Report from the Board.  Bob described 2019 as a year of transition with Howard Clifford, Mary Vandenhoff, and Judy Buehler leaving the board, marking the first time since MMLT was established in 2002 that the board contained none of its founding members.  Our long-serving administrator, Susan Sentesy, also retired in April, with Carolyn Piché coming on staff.  He also discussed some new initiatives being pursued while we continued with our core programs and fundamental philosophy “Beautiful Mississippi-Madawaska wilderness protected for all time, where all species thrive and people engage with nature”.  MMLT did not acquire any new properties in 2019 but did begin or continue discussions with 7 landowners who had approached us, setting 1 property offer aside as unsuitable and proceeding with the assessment and evaluation phase with the other 6.  Bob concluded the Report from the Board by stating that although there are challenges ahead resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, MMLT was in a good position to weather the storm from a sound financial, administrative, volunteer, and supporter basis. 
The Treasurer, Stephen Kotze, then summarized the annual financial statements from 2019 which showed a small surplus for the year. He observed that MMLT should be able to ‘weather’ an anticipated reduction in income in 2020 caused by the cancellation of fundraising events by drawing on reserves accumulated in previous years.
MMLT said its farewells to Bobby Clarke and Bethany Armstrong (pictured below) who are leaving the Board after six years of service and welcomed two new board members, Dale Dilamarter, and Bruce Barton. Three current board members, Cathy Keddy, Art Goldsmith and Don Johnston are returning for a second 3-year term.  

For further details, please refer to the 2019 Annual Report.

Nature Experience - An Essential Service

By: Howard Clifford

The basic recommendations to manage Covid-19 made eminent sense. Extra care for the most vulnerable, work from home whenever possible, leaving only to meet essential needs including nearby exercise.

Experts warn there will be a tidal wave of health issues emerging out of the covid-19 crisis. Some will be affected lightly, some terribly. Stress plays a dominant role often with devastating consequences. For example, the stress some pregnant mothers experienced during the 1998 ice storm harmed the fetus in ways still evident today.

Stress levels are exponentially higher now. Anxiety rising to panic attacks from loss of economic security, fear of losing loved ones, facing an unknown future–magnified by being housebound. Imagine being a single parent caring for your special need child–imagine the horrific experience of being a child with an abusive parent–imagine being with a spouse having episodes of uncontrolled rage.

One of my social work professors warned: “Statistics don’t bleed. But oh how differently you will feel when you see the faces behind the statistics.” Living at cliffLAND provided an experience affecting me in ways I hadn’t anticipated.  One moment feeling gratitude–so blessed to be sheltered with my wife, a son and daughter-in-law and two granddaughters. Seeing our granddaughters playing outside I thought “Wow! How many children have such a beautiful wilderness setting at their doorstep? The next moment feeling terrible as I turned people away. A young man stating: “I can’t take it anymore, I have to get my nature fix.” A number of others asking if I wouldn’t let them go up as no one else was here.

Two instances especially haunted me. I could feel the father’s frustration: “This is my family. How in hell would they catch the virus on this trail?  I am willing to risk a possible fine–just let us go.” Explaining it would place the land trust in jeopardy, the mother tugged at his sleeve “We don’t want to get him in trouble.” Making matters worse their young child shrank back against her, staring at me, as if not believing I would turn them away. In a low voice the father said: “I have to get them out. This seemed the safest place I knew.”

The second instance-From my window I watched a lone woman leave her car to read the closure sign. She hesitated, walked back to the car and then back to the sign and then slowly walked to the trail-head. She wavered–seemed beside herself–indecisive, torn between civil obedience and some deep felt need. She finally turned around, slowly walked back to the car where she sat for a few minutes. Jean who was also watching said: “It's a shame–I feel so badly.”
It was strange. Feeling gratitude for our situation and simultaneously guilt-stricken–haunted by the young woman whose body language revealed so much, by the father trying to help his family, by the searching eyes of the little girl I turned away.
What was going on in their lives–lives so unsettled–so different from mine? Were they or others I turned away at their breaking point? Will any of them become 'statistics that don’t bleed'? God, I hope not.

What could be done differently? The answer is under our nose. A treasure trove of the powerful, healing effects of nature–documented around the world–that surely can take pressure off our overburdened health systems and surely reduce the collateral damage from being sheltered in home. A walk in the forest, especially in wild, intact, holistic forest shores up our immune system, strengthens our lungs and heart, benefits those with ADD, high blood pressure, diabetes, brain fatigue, depression and other mental health problems, and tops the list as an anti-stress strategy.

Stress causes breakdown, overwhelms our coping abilities, and aggravates almost every health issue predicted to emerge out of the COVID crisis. Reducing stress can make the difference between coming out relatively unscathed and having devastating effects.

Perhaps a hidden blessing coming out of the COVID experience will be the uncovering of how much humans need nature, and the increasing number returning to nature. This is GREAT NEWS because we face another existential threat-a collective nature amnesia upon our doorstep as a result of losing our wilderness roots-children spending even less time outdoors than prisoners, inevitably leading to nature only considered a utilitarian value.  As Stephen Jay Gould warned: “We cannot win the battle to save species and environments without forging an emotional bond with nature...for we will not fight to save what we do not love.”

Firstly, think of the difference it would make during a pandemic to have places close enough to allow day outings without stops for gas, groceries or intermingling with communities and where controls on numbers and provisions to ensure safe physical distances could be readily employed. Then think bigger. Think of protecting more wilderness areas to promote the well-being of humans and wildlife as an emergency priority. Places that retain their magnificent wildness–where all species can thrive and prosper–where wilderness serves as a healing backdrop to meet the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual needs of people.

Welcome Back
Come Prepared When Visiting MMLT Properties

(The following article appeared recently in the Millstone. We thought our newsletter readers would welcome the reminder to visitors.)

Since four of the properties managed by the Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust (MMLT) reopened in mid-May, many guests have happily visited, some coming for the first time. These wonderful places provide welcome relief for those seeking the restorative benefits of nature. While there is no charge to visit the properties, donations are always appreciated.

 A walk in the forest is made more enjoyable by wearing suitable clothing. Sturdy shoes are a good start. Visitors can expect to encounter mosquitoes and deer flies so long pants, long-sleeved shirts and a hat can make a walk much more pleasant. It’s good to tuck pants into socks when walking on the trails to deter ticks. Light-coloured clothes make it easier to check for ticks after a walk as well.

 Dogs are welcome at some of the properties but they must remain under control at all times for the sake of wildlife. (Dogs must remain on leash at High Lonesome.) Owners are asked to pick up after their dogs and to remove their/the waste from the property. These properties are managed by volunteers who really appreciate if no trash is left on site. “If you bring it in, please take it out.”

 Due to the continuing Covid-19 state of emergency, no groups of more than 10 people are permitted at this time. Physical distancing practices are still in place on all MMLT properties.

The four MMLT properties open to the public are High Lonesome near Pakenham, Blueberry Mountain (cliffLAND) near Flower Station, Poole Family Nature Sanctuary near Carleton Place and Rose Hill Nature Reserve near Denbigh. For more information about these properties and how to get there, visit the MMLT website at

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Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust
10970 Hwy 7
Carleton Place, Ontario K7C 3P1

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