Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Great news from land trust about Byrne Big Creek Preserve

NOTE: information below is from an article in the December 2017 newsletter of the Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust (MMLT)

“Byrne Big Creek Preserve Making Great Progress”

The MMLT launched a campaign on Giving Tuesday, Nov 28th, to raise funds needed to acquire and manage a wonderful 100-acre parcel of land near McDonald’s Corners. The property was left to the MMLT by Joel Byrne, naturalist, poet and long-time supporter of the MMLT, the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists and the Macnamara Field Naturalists’ Club.

The next night, MMLT hosted an evening at the Barley Mow to remember Joel Byrne and to celebrate his wonderful gift of what will become the Byrne Big Creek Nature Preserve. The Campaign received a ’jump-start’ when Irene’s Pub in Ottawa pledged to match donations up to $5000.  The crowd was delighted when the campaign passed the $5,000 target. In fact, this achievement inspired another offer to match the next $5,000 in personal donations. Then the President of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists, Brenda Boyd, took the floor to make a very substantial gift to the campaign.


Brenda Boyd (middle), President of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) presents a donation to Howard Clifford and Mary Vandenhoff of the Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust while a cut-out of the late Joel Byrne looks on approvingly. The contribution will help to make the Byrne Big Creek Nature Preserve a reality


The Big Creek Campaign hopes to raise $48,500 to cover acquisition and future stewardship costs. The response to date has been truly remarkable. As of mid December, approximately 80% of the goal had been donated.

MMLT is so grateful to all who have come forward with financial support and is appealing to those who might still wish to contribute to this campaign to help us reach the campaign goal.  Plans are also underway for fundraising events in the New Year to close any final gap.  For those wishing to contribute to making this dream a reality, please visit our website at and click on Byrne Big Creek Preserve Campaign.

Congratulations to MMLT for this amazing accomplishment of coming so close to the fundraising goal for Joel’s property, in such a short period of time!


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Naturalist Joel Byrne bequeaths his 100-acre “Big Creek” Property to MMLT

Joel Byrne has bequeathed his beautiful 100-acre “Big Creek” property, near McDonald’s Corners, to the Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust!

Joel Byrne, photo from 2008 by Howard Robinson


In this act, Joel fulfilled his dream of protecting “forever”, this special wild place he knew would continue to touch the deepest needs of future generations.

Joel was a long-time member of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists and the Macnamara Field Naturalists as well as a strong supporter of the Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust (MMLT). Joel passed away suddenly in 2016.

Help the MMLT preserve Joel Byrne’s “Big Creek” property forever

It is a significant responsibility to take on the legal and financial obligations that protecting Joel’s Big Creek property “forever” entails.  MMLT cannot do this alone.  It will take $48,500 to complete the acquisition and to pay for long term stewardship.  They need your help.

The MMLT is launching a campaign to raise the required funds starting on Nov 28, “Giving Tuesday”.  The MMLT hopes that all those who care about the preservation of wilderness in eastern Ontario will consider helping to achieve the fundraising goal by participating in a series of campaign fundraising events, including the celebratory Kick Off Pub Night Event for the “Byrne Big Creek Nature Preserve” Campaign at the Barley Mow, Almonte on Wednesday, Nov 29, 2017.

You can also help by visiting the MMLT Big Creek Campaign on the MMLT website and donating generously.

Through the generosity of MMLT supporter, Irene’s Pub in Ottawa, every donation made to the fund by November 30 will be matched up to $5,000.  Yes, your donation will be doubled!

Kick Off Pub Night Event for the “Byrne Big Creek Nature Preserve” Campaign :

Come and celebrate Joel Byrne and his generous gift of his “Big Creek” property with haiku, games and fun with friends during an evening at the Barley Mow.  A cover charge of $10 will go towards the campaign to create the “Byrne Big Creek Nature Preserve”.

With your support Joel’s 100-acre property “Big Creek” will become a haven for wildlife and nature lovers for generations to come. This is the first of a series of campaign fundraising events taking place until the fundraising goal is reached.

Details:  Wednesday, November 29, 2017 / 7 PM to 10 PM / Barley Mow (79 Little Bridge Street) in Almonte, ON 







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Go Wild Gala at Temple’s Sugar Bush to Benefit Land Trust

Join the Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust (MMLT) on Saturday, November 11 for their Annual Go Wild Gala at Temple’s Sugar Bush. See details below provided by MMLT or visit


“There couldn’t be a more appropriate venue than Temple’s beautiful, rustic post and beam restaurant which is located at 1700 Ferguson’s Falls Rd.”

“Once again, we bring you renowned naturalist, photographer, author and teacher, Michael Runtz, whose presentation is The Colourful Side of Nature – How Little We Really See.   Nature provides us with a stunningly beautiful world of colour but what we see is not necessarily what our wild neighbours perceive.  You will get an insight into the roles and meanings of colour in nature.


Starting at 6:30 p.m., you can enjoy an array of delectable appetizers and desserts, visit with friends and fellow nature lovers, and place your bids on a wide variety of silent auction items.  As in previous years the selection will include lots of Christmas gift ideas including original works of art, theatre tickets, gift baskets, and many other treasures.  You can also bid on a range of novel experiences from a geological exploration or a drone video of your property, a gourmet dinner for six and more.  As this is the MMLT’s major fundraiser of the year, please come for the fun knowing that your contributions also help protect the land we love, not only for our great-great-grandchildren but also for all the plants and animals that call it home.

Tickets are $50 per person and can be purchased by credit card or direct debit through MMLT website at  Tickets are also available for cash or cheque only at Gilligallou in Almonte or Shadowfax in Perth. Ticket sales deadline is Saturday, Nov. 4.  For more information contact or Judy at or at 613-264-8856.”

Go Wild Gala

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MMLT Dinner Silent Auction Speaker Bruce Di Labio

MMLT will hold its Annual Dinner and Silent Auction on Friday, November 13th at the Almonte Civitan Club.  This year’s speaker is Bruce Di Labio who will speak on the topic of Changes to Bird Life in Eastern Ontario Over 50 Years.  His talk will cover status changes in various species from the Turkey Vulture to the Northern Cardinal, the declines in other species such as the Loggerhead Shrike and the Red-headed Woodpecker to new species found over the past 5 years.

 Bruce is a native of Ottawa and his passion for birds and birding began at the age of 8, when he hand-tamed a Black-capped Chickadee at his family cottage at Constance Bay, Ontario. From these simple beginnings emerged both a life-long passion and career in the field of birding. He is a weekly columnist on birding in the Ottawa Citizen and teaches birding courses.

In addition, Bruce has authored numerous articles over the years for Nature Canada, Ontario Birds, Birding, and Ontario Birding News.  Bruce was a member of the championship Kowa Birding Team that successfully won three World Series of Birding titles in New Jersey and one championship title in the Texas Birding Classic.

The evening will also feature a Silent Auction which will offer a wide range of useful and interesting items, with an emphasis on services, ranging from a weekend stay at a cabin in the woods to guided walks in beautiful nature settings.  It’s an opportunity to support the Land Trust and reap some great benefits at the same time, all while enjoying the pleasant company of like-minded friends.

The Almonte Civitan Club is located at 500 Almonte St. (Wolf Grove Rd).  Doors will open at 6:00 p.m. to allow time to look over the auction items and mix and mingle with friends.  Dinner will be served at 7:00.  Dress is casual.

Tickets are $40, cheque or cash only, available at the following locations: Hello Yellow in Almonte, The Granary in Carleton Place, Village Treats in Lanark, Shadowfax in Perth, Pakenham General Store, Arnprior Book Shop.

For your convenience, you may also e-mail or call Mary Vandenhoff at 613-278-2939 to reserve tickets for pick-up at the door.  Also call Mary if you have any dietary restrictions.

Deadline for ticket purchase is November 6, 2015 or when tickets are sold out.

Susan Sentesy

Program Manager
Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust


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MMLT Fall Colours walk on Blueberry Mountain

Mississippi Madawaska Fall Colours Walk on Blueberry Mountain

This is a Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust event for October 4th. Link to MMLT website or see article below:

Bring a picnic lunch, bring your family and enjoy the sense of renewal that comes from the Annual Fall Colours Nature Walk to the top of Blueberry Mountain, hosted by the Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust (MMLT). Nature seems to respond to our deep need for beauty. It’s as if the outer layer of green, relaxing, healing colours has been dropped to reveal what has always been there, but hidden from the naked eye. Take this opportunity to rejoice in the explosion of riotous colours that splendidly display the beauty that no artist can match.

During this Annual Nature Walk, owner Howard Clifford often provides a dramatization of the life of well-renowned conservationists such as John Muir or Grey Owl. For this occasion however, Howard will draw on his rich professional background in mental health and child development. He will provide researched evidence and stories from his own personal experiences that have convinced him that exposure to nature is by far the best means to enhance our well-being as well as the best gift that parents can give to their children. In so doing Howard will debunk many of the myths that have held back this generation of parents from reaping the unfathomable riches that nature has in store for those who partake.

This spectacular 1250 acre wilderness property, now known as cliffLAND, was the first to be placed under protection by the Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust in 2009. The Land Trust has now conserved over 2400 acres within the Mississippi River and Lower Madawaska River watersheds. This event is a fundraiser to help the MMLT fulfill its responsibilities to care for its protected properties forever: admission is a $10 donation.

The Annual Fall Colours Nature Walk takes place on Sunday, October 4th. Registration starts at 10 a.m. and the hike starts at 10:30 sharp. It takes about 45 minutes to climb Blueberry Mountain, but it’s a fairly easy walk with only a brief climb near the top. You can enjoy the spectacular view while you eat your lunch and dessert will be served following the hike. Special certificates will be given to hikers under 12 or over 80 years of age.

CliffLAND is located at 502 Hills of Peace Rd. near Flower Station in Lanark Highlands. Drive north of Lanark on Highway 511 to Brightside. Turn left on to the French Line Rd. Drive towards Flower Station and watch for the right turn when you get to Joe’s Lake. Just before you reach Flower Station, turn right on to Hills of Peace Rd. For more information, please contact Howard or Jean Clifford at 613-259-3412.

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