Our Land Trust

Our Vision is:

The Haliburton Highlands Land Trust is your independent, non-government community resource organization for land and water protection. It protects land and water within Haliburton by:

  • Encouraging broad community engagement and understanding through education and outreach;
  • Encouraging and supporting private land stewardship initiatives which contribute to land and water protection; and,
  • Acquiring and/or managing land parcels representative of the Haliburton natural landscape and historic/cultural heritage.



The Haliburton Highlands Land Trust will work to conserve the plants, wildlife and clean water of Haliburton County to ensure a legacy of forests, fields and wetlands, and the species they nurture. The Haliburton Highlands Land Trust will do this by:

    • Identifying significant lands and waters of natural or cultural value;
    • Working cooperatively with individuals, groups and governments to identify, manage and/or research areas of interest;
    • Acquiring significant properties and/or conservation easements through donation or purchase;
    • Supporting stewardship planning for privately owned natural areas; and
    • Encouraging private and government sectors to set aside significant natural areas.


Land trusts are non-profit, charitable organizations which have as their core activities the acquisition of land for the purpose of conservation. There are over 30 land trusts in Ontario.

After an open forum for interest in 2003, the first board of the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust formed with 7 individuals in 2004. The Land Trust was incorporated on March 23, 2005, registered as a charitable organization on May 26, 2005, and on October 13, 2005, was approved as a potential recipient of gifts under the Ecological Gifts Program of Environment Canada.

The Land Trust is primarily interested in acquiring lands of ecological and cultural significance for conservation purposes. It works to select only those properties which clearly have long-term benefit to the public and can be maintained by the Land Trust in perpetuity.

On March 23, 2007, under the Ecological Gifts Program, the Land Trust acquired its first land donation, a 22-acre island on Kennisis Lake. This island is now officially named Norah’s Island to honour the memory of donor Bruce Carruthers’ wife Norah. Norah’s Island is jointly managed by the Land Trust and the Kennisis Lake Cottage Owners Association.

On December 23, 2009, the Land Trust acquired its second land donation, the Dahl Forest. The Dahl Family transferred ownership of the Dahl Forest property to the Land Trust under the Ecological Gifts Program. The Dahl Forest is approximately 500-acres and straddles the Burnt River for 2.7 kilometres.

In May of 2010, the Land Trust announced its successful application to the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Funding in the amount of $91, 500.00 would fund two part-time staff positions, an administrative assistant and program coordinator, over a period of 3-years.

On February 14, 2011, papers were signed to transfer title for two properties owned by Dr. Donald A. Smith, a long-time resident of Haliburton County, to the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust.  The 72-acre forested property bordering a wetland complex on the Burnt River was donated under Environment Canada’s Ecological Gifts program.  This ecologically significant property will now be protected and managed by the Land Trust.

In order to ensure funding for the protection and management of this ecologically significant property, Dr. Donald A. Smith also donated a 2-acre waterfront lot on Black Lake, north of Haliburton village. Dr. Smith’s wish was to have the Land Trust sell the lot in order to establish an endowment fund to pay for the expenses of protecting and managing the 72-acre property and to support the Land Trust with its mission to protect the natural heritage of Haliburton County for future generations. The property was sold on October 28, 2011.

In November 2012, the Land Trust acquired its fourth nature reserve – a wetland complex near South Lake.  The Fred & Pearl Barry Wetland Reserve is a 100-acre property, which is home to many important species and habitats, strengthens a block of nearby protected areas, which include the Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands Provincial Park, Snowdon Park and adjoining Crown land.  The property was donated to the Land Trust by Dennis Barry through Canada’s Ecological Gifts Program.

Since 2007, the Land Trust has routinely and successfully received funding from the provincial Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Canada for research studies on Species at Risk to develop a Natural Heritage Strategy for Haliburton County. The Land Trust’s Board of Directors began this process because they were interested in identifying focal areas for conservation. The presence of species at risk (SAR) and potentially suitable habitat for these species are two of the Land Trust’s criteria for land acquisition for conservation purposes.

From 2008 to 2010, many members of the community reported sightings of SAR to the Land Trust and, combined with research projects, the Land Trust has increased the number of documented observations of SAR in the County by 465%. The Land Trust also published a Species at Risk Journal, now in its 3rd edition, to raise funds and provide the public with a helpful species and habitat identification tool.