The Dahl Forest is approximately 500 acres and straddles 2.7 km of the Burnt River in Haliburton County 5 km south of Gelert. The ecological significance of the Dahl Forest is evident in the diversity of species and habitats found on the property.
William Dahl bought the property in the early 1950s. At that time it was abandoned farmland with depleted soil, crisscrossed with collapsed barbed wire fences where cattle scrounged for what little feed remained on the land. In the years following, the family planted more than 100,000 trees in plantations covering about 40 per cent of the property. The remaining acreage was left to regenerate naturally and has returned to wilderness. The property has been a model of conservation planning and the Land Trust was honoured to be chosen to continue the excellent stewardship of the Dahl family.
On Tuesday, May 12, 2009 Peter Dahl, representing his mother Peggy Dahl and sister Nana McKernan, announced the family’s intention to donate the Dahl Forest to the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust. Peter explained that the decision to donate the land to the larger community was based on the family’s reluctance to sell the land they loved. “We spent over fifty years of tree planting, conservation and preserving that property … how could we sell it at any price? It’s inconceivable to me, and my sister and certainly to my mother. The property is part of my soul and its part of my mother’s and my sister’s souls.”
Sheila Ziman, (then) Chair of HHLT, stated, “The Land Trust and the Dahl Family share a vision for the property based on the value of protecting the land. The Dahl Forest is a model of conservation planning and is extremely rich in its ecological diversity, being home to a large number of species and their habitats, some of which are rare or at risk.”
On December 23, 2009, the Dahl Family formally passed the stewardship torch to the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust when title of the Dahl Forest was transferred from the landowners, Peter Dahl and his sister Nana McKernan to the Land Trust. Peggy Dahl, the family matriarch, was instrumental in encouraging the transfer of ownership.
The Land Trust’s conservation goals for the Dahl Forest are to protect and maintain biodiversity; protect habitat and potential habitat of Species at Risk as well as locally or regionally rare species; promote water quality and riparian habitat through the protection of shorelines and wetlands; promote succession from plantations to forests; monitor and promote forest health; promote ecology and conservation education; and provide non-motorized recreational opportunities. The Dahl Forest property will remain as a natural conservation reserve, with access by permission of the Land Trust only. Access will be restricted to non-motorized recreational activities such as hiking, skiing and birding.
The Dahl Forest Management Committee (DFMC):
Chris Whittemore, Gus Janca, Dave Bathe, Lee Battiston, Joan Duhaime, and Peter Dahl. Interested in joining the committee? Contact us.
The Land Trust has established The Dahl Forest Endowment Fund to ensure that it has the ability to carry out its conservation goals in perpetuity. Presently it has over $52,000 in the fund. The goal is to raise $60,000 so that the yearly interest will cover the annual expenses for the property.
The Land Trust is relying on the generosity of people and organizations that wish to see the Dahl Forest protected as a conservation reserve in perpetuity to contribute generously to the endowment fund. If you would like to ensure that this ecological gift is maintained and wisely stewarded, please contribute to the Dahl Forest Endowment Fund. The Land Trust can issue charitable tax receipts for all donations over $30.00.
If you would like to contribute to the Dahl Forest Endowment Fund, you can donate online or send a cheque to Haliburton Highlands Land Trust, Box 1478, Haliburton, Ontario K0M 1S0.
Rules of Conduct
The public is encourage to visit Dahl Forest for silent day sports – hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and birding. There are no motor vehicles or all-terrain vehicles permitted on the property. Fires and overnight camping are also prohibited.
The Land Trust’s conservation goals for the Dahl Forest are to protect and maintain biodiversity; protect habitat and potential habitat of Species at Risk as well as locally or regionally rare species; promote water quality and riparian habitat through the protection of shorelines and wetlands; promote succession from plantations to forests; monitor and promote forest health; promote ecology and conservation education; and provide non-motorized recreational opportunities. The Dahl Forest property will remain as a natural conservation reserve; when visiting please keep to the signed trails and take out only what you bring in. Dogs are permitted on leash and owners are expected to clean up after them.
The Dahl Forest was donated under the federal government’s Ecological Gifts program and the Dahl Family retains a life interest in the property. This will allow them to continue using the family home and the property as they always have. When visiting the property, please be respectful of the Dahl family’s continuing residency.
Location and Trails
The Dahl Forest is located at 1307 Geeza Rd, off of Gelert Rd/County Rd 1 just 5 km south of Gelert. It is 20-25 minutes South of Haliburton or 15-20 minutes East of Minden. Click here for a map.
The trail system at Dahl Forest is signed – thanks to generous funding from Winterfest and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Dahl Forest Trail Maps are available at the trail head Kiosk located at the entrance to Dahl Forest from Geeza Rd.