Conservation Archive


July 1, 2017

David Katz

Anne and I recently enjoyed a week exploring the foot trails of Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula, the piece of land that separates Lake Huron from Georgian Bay. Like northern New York, the Bruce is a mixture of active farms, brushy abandoned fields, and dense woodland. The two areas share much of the same flora and fauna, although sandhill cranes forage in the farm fields instead of the deer we would see at home, and we saw a Massasauga Rattlesnake after it rattled at us, warning us to wait while it left the trail. And the orchids, which are in full bloom in June, and other wildflowers are not to be missed.

Much as ADK works to create and maintain trails in our area, the Bruce Trail Conservancy (BTC) manages both the 550-mile Bruce Trail and its 250 miles of side trails between Niagara Falls and Tobermory at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula. On one of our walks, we ran into the BTC’s Land Stewardship Coordinator and chatted about the similarities and differences between their challenges and ours.

Some Bruce Trail sections are on protected provincial, federal, First Nations land, or land owned by the BTC. However, much of the trail passes through private land owned by various individuals and corporations, and inevitably some of the parcels change hands occasionally, requiring new negotiations with the new owner. And compared to the strict controls imposed by the Adirondack Park Agency, private conservation and land use on the Peninsula are relatively lightly regulated.

Also, Ontario conservation easement law is not as well developed as New York’s. So while we deal largely with New York State and a few large landowners such as Brookfield Power, the BTC must work with many partners with varying interests. And while the BTC’s legal and regulatory environment sometimes affords them greater flexibility, it also provides less guidance in planning and less certainty about future developments.

For more information about the Bruce Trail and the Bruce Trail Conservancy, visit