The Lake Clear Conservancy (LCC) is a conservation charity known as a “land trust”
What is a land trust?
A land trust is a non-government, non-profit, charitable organization incorporated under federal law for the purpose of conservation. The conservation activities of a land trust are strictly for public benefit.
Land trusts like the LCC operate chiefly by protecting strategic parcels of land, either through outright ownership or by means of a conservation easement. Land trust properties may be acquired by owner donation or by purchase. Many Land Trusts also provide information and education about good stewardship practices.
While generally local in scope and operation, land trusts may also be provincial, regional, or even national. Most land trusts focus on conserving the biological values of land, but across Canada land trusts have been established to protect scenic, historical, agricultural, and recreational lands as well.
What is the difference between a land trust and a cottage association?
A cottage association may deal with any and all aspects of cottage life, such as boating, roads, taxes, fishing, water quality, and community events. Its activities will vary according to the wishes and concerns of its membership. A land trust is concerned only with conservation, and, as a registered charity, is required by law to adhere to its conservation mandate.
Can you “trust” a land trust?
Any organization with charitable status is carefully monitored by the Canada Revenue Agency. Moreover, land trusts are held to a high operational standard by umbrella organizations such as the Ontario Land Trust Alliance (OLTA). The Lake Clear Conservancy is a proud founding member of OLTA and has been a member in good standing for 15 years.
Who is the Lake Clear Conservancy (LCC)?
The LCC is managed by an all-volunteer board of directors, and is supported by members, donors, and volunteers from all over the lake. The LCC has no paid staff. A full list of the board of directors may be found on the contact page.
A Short History of the Lake Clear Conservancy
A confluence of ideas
The Lake Clear Conservancy was conceived in the fall of 1997. At the time, the Official Plan of what was then Sebastopol Township stated that no development on the islands was permitted. A successful application was brought before the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB, now replaced by LPAT) by the purchaser of one of the islands to amend that provision. An important lesson was learned: Environmental protections can be changed or revoked at any time. Years of effort may go into lobbying a government body for such protections, but even when successful, those protections may be reversed by a new government, or a court, at any time. A more permanent form of protection was sought.
Judge Lawrence Foran (known to family and friends as Lornie) wrote in a letter to the President and Executive of the LCPOA: “For many years, many many people have felt that the uniqueness of our Lake lay somewhat in the configuration, the physical appearance and the geography of our undeveloped islands.” In his visionary letter, he suggested the formation of a committee to preserve the islands by, among other things, ownership of islands when possible, working with the MNR to preserve the Crown islands, and placement of garbage receptacles and portable toilet facilities to aid campers in leaving a smaller footprint. Judge Foran also approached Dianne Hicks and Sally Gillis, whom he knew to share his concerns, about the possible formation of such a committee. Dianne approached other interested parties, notably Wayne Gorman and Bill and Bev Mantell, who were keen to contribute to this effort. On October 13th of 1997, a meeting of the “Island Preservation Committee” was held at the home of Dianne Hicks.
Coincidentally, Sally Gillis, who was a board member of the Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Associations (FOCA), was asked to represent FOCA at the inaugural meeting of the Ontario Nature Trust Alliance, an organization founded to aid and encourage land trusts in the province of Ontario. Sally became a founding board member of the organization, which is known today as the Ontario Land Trust Alliance, and realized that incorporation as a land trust would give the Island Preservation Committee the perfect vehicle to carry out its aims, and would also broaden its mandate to include conservation of the lake generally, not just the islands.
Well-known conservation lawyer Ian Attridge agreed to meet with the Lake Clear group at minimal cost in order to educate them about operating a land trust. That meeting was held at the Gillis cottage on August 11th, 1998 and attended by Lornie Foran, Dianne and Wayne Hicks, Bev and Bill Mantell, Wayne Gorman and Sally Gillis. It was at this meeting that the groundwork was laid, and the name “Lake Clear Conservancy” was chosen. The first official meeting (and the first of hundreds of entries of the acronym “LCC” into the calendars of volunteers) of the new land trust was held on August 23 at Lornie Foran’s home. All the founding board members, and many who came a short while later, made substantial financial contributions to the LCC in order to help the fledgling land trust with its expenses.
The first and largest acquisition of land by the LCC must be credited to Lornie Foran, Dianne Hicks, and Wayne Gorman. When Lornie realized that three islands in the lake were to be sold for back taxes, these three individuals immediately and jointly took out a loan to buy them. These islands were Green Island, and the two small islands known as the Twins. When the Letters Patent was filed to incorporate the LCC on June 22, 1999, the islands were deeded to the LCC and the loan was repaid.
On February 7, 2000, the Lake Clear Conservancy became a registered charity, the tenth anniversary of which was celebrated during the summer of 2010.
The Lake Clear Conservancy Today
Thanks to the volunteer time and donations of so many people around the lake, the LCC is still going strong. Its next land acquisition was the gifting of Little Rock island to the Conservancy in June of 2006. (Little Rock is now formally known as Lornie Foran Island, a fitting tribute to the LCC’s late friend and advocate, whose home overlooked this island.) The LCC has also recently acquired Cherry Island, partially through purchase and partially through donation from its three owners.
In the summer of 2022, the LCC is partnering with Watershed Canada’s Love Your Lake program, which provides an overall assessment of the general health of the shoreline and offers ideas and advice to interested property owners. In the summer of 2023, we will partner with Watershed Canada’s Natural Edge program, which provides resources and funding for property owners who wish to make improvements to their shorelines that will contribute to the quality of our water.
Also going strong is the LCC’s island management program, initiated in 2005 by virtue of a partnership between the Township of Bonnechere Valley, the Ministry of Natural Resources, and the LCC. The LCC stewards all the Crown islands on the lake and manages the camping program on three of the islands. Reservations are made online through our website, and LCC volunteers have built privies, tent platforms and fire pits. “Leave-no-trace” wilderness camping guidelines are provided to campers. The result has been a vast improvement in the condition of the islands. It is the LCC’s hope that the islands, and indeed the whole lake, will be just as beautiful for generations to come as they are today.
Conservation Successes – Protected Properties
The Lake Clear Conservancy owns five of the islands in Lake Clear. While the overall acreage of LCC holdings is quite small, we believe that, when it comes to protecting water quality, islands require special consideration. By definition, they have shoreline on all sides, and natural shoreline is the most important defense against pollutants. The impact of development on an island is inversely proportional to its size; indeed, the smaller the island, the less opportunity there is to mitigate impacts. This is why we are the proud owners of three of the smallest islands in the lake.
Plants find their way to islands by unknown means as no land corridor is available. If plants disappear because of disturbance, they can’t easily replace themselves.
Our areas of interest are not confined to islands. Indeed, we are interested in protection of all shorelands, whether through conservation easements, landowner education, or land acquisition.
Properties protected by the LCC:
Green Island, AKA Sebastopol Island “A”
The rocky shoals around this 15 acre island are important lake trout spawning grounds. Its beautiful shoreline, while mostly treed, is interspersed with rock walls and sloping stone outcrops, and features 2 lagoons on the west side of the island. The island is characterized by diverse vegetation and a small coniferous swamp. At the time of the last flora and fauna inventory, a number of species of bird were observed, including Mallard, Song Sparrow, Northern Waterthrush, Common Grackle, Yellow-rumped Warblers and Swainson’s Thrush, this last a species not common in Renfrew County.
The Twins, AKA Sebastopol Islands “F” and “G”
These 2 tiny islands are located, side by side, in the center of the lake.
Island “F” is a 2 acre, well-treed island with a good diversity of herbs. At the time of its acquisition by the LCC, there was considerable human disturbance as campers had created a trail system and built fire pits and a privy. Nonetheless, a butterfly normally unseen in Renfrew County (Satyr Comma) was spotted on the island.
Island “G” has been a Herring Gull nesting island. This species, which prefers undisturbed islands on inland lakes, tends to use the same islands repeatedly. The ground on this island is sparsely covered with herbs, mostly along the shoreline, and bare soil or rock.
Island “I”: Popularly known as “Little Rock”
This island has recently been officially renamed “Lornie Foran Island” in memory of Judge Lorne Foran. Judge Foran was very concerned about preserving the pristine islands in Lake Clear and was one of the founders of the Lake Clear Conservancy. This 1acre island was acquired by donation when the township ordered the previous owner to remove the illegal structure that had been built there. LCC volunteers removed the structure and introduced some native plants to the site. This island has also been a Gull nesting site, and the LCC is working with the Bonnechere River Watershed Project to monitor the impacts of the Gull population on the water quality of the western shore.
2021 – 2022 Board Members
Janet Smith – President
Roy Shultis – Acting Vice President
Julie Earle – Secretary
Liz Shultis – Treasurer
John Taker – Also serves as LCPOA representative
George Green – Communications and Social Media coordinator
Members can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
By mail at: Box 141 Eganville, ON K0J1T0
ISLANDS PROTECTED FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS
LCC-OWNED SHORELINE (LINEAR FEET)
LCC-MANAGED SHORELINE (LINEAR FEET)
The Lake Clear Conservancy is your community land trust. Together we can preserve, maintain and improve the things we all love and enjoy - crystal clear waters, magnificent views, unspoiled islands and scenic shorelines. Clean water and unspoiled wilderness are rare; Lake Clear is a treasure. The LCC is a means for everyone who values these qualities to work together in a coordinated manner.
Get In Touch
Box 141 Eganville, ON KoJ1T0