Protecting Woodlands and Wetlands at the Pike River Headwaters

Elementary school students participate in a nature-based educational activity. Photo: MPLT

In November 2023, Mount Pinnacle Land Trust (MPLT)—an affiliate member of Appalachian Corridor—acquired 166 acres of woodland, including 59 acres of wetlands, to be protected in perpetuity.

The newly protected wetlands are situated upstream from the Pike River watershed, which drains into the Missisquoi Bay. The acquisition will preserve headwater connectivity and ensure that critical habitat for species at risk or of special concern remain intact.

Located in Frelighsburg, Quèbec, the property was sold to MPLT by the Choinière family, who on the remaining agricultural land connected to the property run an organic apple and cider production business. The property transfer took place in the context of a broader project called the South Connection Initiative, which targets the eventual preservation of 470 acres of land, including 153 acres of wetland, on the south side of Mount Pinnacle. The Choinière family contributed to the project by donating more than 20 percent of the market value of the land sold, a transaction known as a bargain sale, or split-receipt donation in Canada.

By increasing the acreage and connectivity of protected woodlands and wetlands in the Pike River watershed, the project contributes to improved water quality in northern Lake Champlain. Multiple species of concern also stand to benefit, including the plant species northern maidenhair fern, two-leaved toothwort, fiddlehead fern, large-flowered bellwort. Wildlife that will benefit include the eastern wood-pewee, wood thrush, and monarch butterfly.

Multiple funders supported the acquisition, including Nature Conservancy Canada, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Foundation de la faune du Quèbec, and the Lake Champlain Basin Program.

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