Location: Borders the Burnt River, near Black Lake, Municipality of Dysart et al, County of Haliburton
Donor: Donald A. Smith
Property Size: 72 acres
Acquisition Date: 2011
Features: deciduous forest, mixed wood swamp, marsh
Activities: Due to its ecologically-sensitive nature and/or safety issues, there is no public access to this property.
Not Allowed: There is no public access to this property. Visit Dahl Forest or Barnum Creek Nature Reserve for hiking trails.
Smith Forest is a 72-acre forested property bordering a wetland complex on the Burnt River. It was donated to HHLT in 2011 under Environment Canada’s Ecogifts Program.
In order to ensure funding for the protection and management of this ecologically significant property, Donald A. Smith also donated a 2-acre waterfront lot on Black Lake, north of Haliburton village. Mr. Smith’s wish was to have the land trust sell the lot in order to establish a stewardship fund to pay for the expenses of protecting and managing the 72-acre property and to support HHLT with its mission to protect the natural heritage of Haliburton County for future generations.
“My late wife Lorraine always wanted to protect the 72 acres across from the lot. After she died, I wanted to see that her wish was honoured and that negotiations with the Land Trust to protect the property continued.”
Watch this video for more information on Don Smith and his donation.
The presence of mature and declining large tooth aspen indicates the area was once cleared, likely in the mid 1800s. No evidence of farming (e.g., stone piles or fencing) is present. It is assumed that the property was cleared through logging as there is no evidence of fire (e.g., scarred stumps).
The Smiths used the property for non-motorized recreational activities and the enjoyment of nature. Don Smith was an avid birdwatcher and he and Lorraine were enthusiastic and knowledgeable naturalists.
If you are interested in donating land to the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust, please click here for more information.
The habitat associated with the property would be defined as natural deciduous forest, mixed wood swamp, shallow marsh and mixed shallow aquatic marsh.
The property is dominated by mature maple and basswood (25.18 ha). This forest is beginning to display some old growth characteristics such as large-diameter snags, woody debris and cavities.
Fingers of calcareous soils are found within the maple/basswood forest. Calcareous soils are limited in Haliburton County where the majority of bedrock is associated with the Canadian Shield rather than the Limestone Plains.
The White Cedar Lowland Hardwood Swamp covers an area of only 2.46 ha. Standing water is characteristic of this compartment, with many shallow pools scattered throughout. Where trees have fallen and the roots lifted, deeper pools occur. These would represent good breeding habitat for the amphibian community, particularly wood frogs, tree frogs and green frogs.
Two riverine Organic Shallow Marshes lie adjacent to the open water of the Burnt River. This marsh (72 acres) is dominated by emergent grasses and sedges.
The Mixed Shallow Aquatic Marsh represents the open water of the Burnt River. This is relatively deeper and less stagnant water than the Organic Shallow Marsh. The Mixed Shallow Aquatic Marsh is dominated by free floating submergents such as Common bladderwort, is lined with Pickerelweed and has a scattered covering of floating plants such as Fragrant White Lily.
The Burnt River passes through the southern portion of the property and the property provides approximately 420 m of undeveloped frontage on the north side of this river.
Join wildlife biologist Paul Heaven to explore Smith Forest in this video. Discover how woodlands mature over time to develop the characteristics of an old growth forest.
Smith Forest is managed by the HHLT Property Management and Stewardship Committee. A dedicated group of volunteers help monitor the property regularly. The Land Trust has developed a long-term management plan for Smith Forest.
Conservation goals include:
- Protecting and maintaining biodiversity
- Protecting habitat and potential habitat of Species at Risk as well as locally or regionally rare species
- Promoting water quality and riparian habitat through the protection of natural shorelines
- Maintaining a mature forest with old growth characteristics thereby contributing to establishing and protecting old growth forest in Haliburton County
- Conserving forests that capture and store carbon in trees and soils thereby mitigating the effects of climate change
- Enhancing wildlife corridors between large natural areas
The Haliburton Highlands Land Trust thanks Don Smith for the donation of Smith Forest through Environment Canada’s Ecological Gifts Program.