There's a new nature reserve open to the public, and it features some very old sugar maple trees.
The Daphne and Gordon Nicholls Nature Reserve owned and managed by the Bruce Trail Conservancy officially opened July 26 during an invitation-only ceremony at the site. The 30-acre property, located near the corner of Grey Road 40 and Grey Road 7, was purchased by funds raised by Gordon Nicholls, his family, and friends as a memorial to his late wife Daphne.
Beth Gilhespy, the executive director of the Bruce Trail Conservancy, happily led a tour of the nature reserve before the dedication.
The main point of interest on the property is a concentration of very old and very large sugar maple trees that somehow survived a century-and-a-half of cutting and farming. The trees, which could be considered nearly old-growth, could be 150-200 years old, according to Bruce Trail Conservancy ecologist Brian Popelier.
He was doing some inventory studies before the grand opening.
"The mature sugar maple forest is definitely one of the major features of the property," Popelier said. He also mentioned the wealth of plants and wildlife he's found on the reserve as a highlight.
Gilhespy was a bit reluctant to call the trees old-growth, and preferred the term pre-settlement. A quick look around indicated there could be as many as 25 or 30 of the giant forest elders.
The trail leading to the reserve is a fairly gentle walk, which makes the site very accessible to the public. It's listed as about 500 metres, according to the Beaver Valley Bruce Trail Club.
"This preserves this part of the trail in perpetuity," Gilhespie said. "This is the last part of unsecured land in this area, so it's an important link."
The conservancy is a major land-holding organization which seeks to secure what it calls the optimum route of the Bruce Trail in perpetuity.