LEAVE NO TRACE WHEN YOU ENJOY NATURE

By Marie-José Auclair, President of Appalachian Corridor’s Board of Directors

Although hiking is a low-impact activity for the environment, our behaviours while enjoying the trails can sometimes be devastating and lead to permanent impacts on surrounding flora and fauna. Garbage, fires in forbidden areas, improvised bathrooms in the bushes, and loud hikers; all of these disturbances can unfortunately be damaging to natural habitats and spoil our intimate contact with nature. The principles of the program Leave No Trace (www.leavenotrace. ca) offer an outdoor code of conduct adopted by more than 90 countries and suggest the adoption of key behaviours for the practice of our activities on foot, on bikes, on skis or in kayaks in order to leave natural habitats intact
Appalachian Corridor encourages the adoption of the following seven principles from Leave No Trace:
• Plan ahead and prepare for the unexpected in order to have a safe and pleasant experience.
• To avoid damaging the vegetation and reduce erosion, travel only on established and durable surfaces, and camp on designated sites.
• Dispose of waste properly and don’t leave any items behind.
• Leave what you discover intact so that others may enjoy it too in its most natural state.
• Minimize campfire impacts and preferably use a lightweight stove as a heat source.
• Respect wildlife and avoid disturbing animals, especially during the delicate periods of mating, nesting, or raising young.
• Be considerate of other visitors by limiting excessive noises, let nature’s sounds prevail so that all can enjoy their experience.

Reproduced with the permission of Appalachian Corridor, our partners in conservation.

HOW TO CONSERVE LAND

You own land on the Massawippi Conservation Trust (MCT) territory of action? You are interested in learning more about ecological gifts and the tax benefits you could enjoy? You are curious whether there are prerequisites or fees to this program? What are the resources available to support your conservation project? What type of servitude would allow you to retain ownership of the land while still enjoying tax benefits?

The MCT is the only registered charity in our region certified by Revenue Canada and Environment Canada to acquire and assume stewardship responsibilities for conserved property.
There are four ways to conserve land in Quebec:
1. Fee simple donation – Property is protected in perpetuity and the landowner is no longer responsible for real estate taxes. Under the Ecological Gift Program, a charitable receipt is issued for the fair market value of the property, if eligible, which includes federal and provincial tax credits and no capital gains taxes on the donated property.
2. Real conservation servitude – The landowner retains ownership and chooses which parts of his property will be under servitude. Servitude is a legal agreement between a landowner and a conservation organization under which certain activities are restricted (e.g. subdivision, construction of roads, certain forestry activities). Servitudes may also be eligible for the Ecological Gift Program.
3. Nature reserve on private land – The landowner retains ownership and chooses which part of his property will be under reserve status. A nature reserve must have ecological value, and is a legal agreement between a landowner and the MDDEP (Ministère du Développement Durable, de l’Environment et des Parcs) under which certain activities are restricted (same examples as above). Tax benefits include a reduction of municipal taxes and abrogation of school taxes on the reserved land, but do not include income tax credits.
4. Sell the land to a conservation organization – The landowner receives fair market value for the property, but remains liable for capital gains and receives no tax credits.
Once conserved, the land will be protected in perpetuity by the conservation organization.
The MCT will pay for notary fees to transfer land and/or conservation servitudes, land assessment fees to determine fair market value and capital gain, and ecological assessments to help donors qualify for the federal EcoGift Program. The Trust will also pay municipal taxes on conserved land, monitor the health of natural habitats within conserved properties, ensure that donors’ wishes are respected, and maintain up-to-date liability insurance for approved walking and ski and snowshoeing trails, where applicable.

Would you like more information about conserving land with the Massawippi Conservation Trust?

Contact us at 819 679 5081 or by email foundationmassawippi@gmail.com
We would be happy to chat with you and reply to your questions
Hélène Hamel
Directrice exécutive
and
Margot Graham Heyerhoff
Présidente de la Fondation Massawippi Foundation (FMF) and Trustee of the Massawippi Conservation Trust (MCT)

To learn more about the Ecological Gift Program with the Federal government:
Ecological Gift Program

Regeneration Canada by Ananda Fitzsimmons, President and Co-Founder, Inocucor

The VIMO farm, one of the farms on the Regeneration Canada https://regenerationcanada.org/fr/ferme-vimo/

 

On September 1st, I had the pleasure of attending the Massawippi Foundation’s Farm to Table luncheon. It was an opportunity for me to learn about the critical conservation work that the Foundation and the Trust are doing. I applaud the management of the Foundation and the Massawippi Conservation Trust for taking an unconventional stand in the conservation world and for recognizing the leadership of farmers doing regenerative agriculture as an essential contribution to the quality of the lake water and the environment.

I am the President of the Board at Regeneration Canada. Our organization, founded in 2017, is dedicated to raising awareness and supporting   the transition to regenerative agriculture and land management as an important part of this country’s climate mitigation strategy. A growing number of people are becoming aware that cutting emissions alone will not combat climate change. We also need to restore the ecosystem functions on our planet, which draw greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere and store carbon in the land. Trees and plants breathe in greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and convert them to liquid carbon, which they exude through their roots to feed soil microbes. Soil microbes, in turn, transform the mineral nutrients from organic matter and make them accessible to the plants. This whole marvelous cycle is the basis of the soil ecosystem, Nature’s closed-loop system for recycling nutrients, creating fertility and filtering water. A healthy soil ecosystem, not only the trees, plays a vital role in balancing the carbon and the water cycles.

Conservation of forests, waterways and biodiversity is essential for restoring the natural functions which regulate our climate. Yet the population of humans which has taken over more and more of the surface of our planet over the centuries has altered the planetary ecosystems and unwittingly thrown these natural systems out of balance. So, of course, we must conserve the remaining natural spaces, but at the same time ,we have to meet the needs of the people who live around them.

Regenerative agriculture and land management is a way of meeting human needs while restoring ecosystem functions. It is possible by mimicking natural systems to create human-managed environments that provide us food and fibre while still sequestering carbon, purifying water and increasing biodiversity. This is the emerging science of the regenerative movement. A regenerative farming system does all these things by applying the principles of regenerative land management :

  •  Disturb the soil as little as possible and keep it covered with living plants as much of the year as possible;
  • Integrate more trees and perennial plants into the production system;
  • Diversify the number of species of plants grown;
  • Transition from synthetic fertilizers and pesticides to natural amendments such as compost, manure and cover crops;
  • Integrate animals into the system. This ranges from pasture grazing ruminants like cows and sheep, to pollinators, birds, and other wild creatures who can find habitat.

Regeneration Canada brings together pioneering regenerative farmers with environmentally conscious consumers looking to support regeneration in their buying choices through our map of regenerative farms. We welcome you to explore our map, sign up if you are a regenerative farmer, or join our network of citizens who are concerned about taking climate action.

PROFILE: Board member, ERIC van Bochove

Helene Hamel

syn·chro·nic·i·ty
/ˌsiNGkrəˈnisədē/

noun:  the simultaneous occurrence of events which appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection.
“such synchronicity is quite staggering”

  • It is our tenth anniversary.
  • When discussing our future, beyond conserving forests, sustainable agriculture is also discussed as a different form of conservation.  How can we help promote environmentally sound farming practices in our valley? How can we help conserve the health of the soil in our valley?
  • Eric van Bochove, on the point of retirement from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, meets a Massawippi Foundation person in the parking lot of the trail.

As she hands him a trail map he tells her that he is interested in becoming involved in the conservation work of the foundation as he leaves his professional career. She mentions that the foundation has just been discussing the topic of agriculture and conservation and adding this to our vision for the next 10 years.

Bang!
Synchronicity
It is a win, win, win situation.

Eric moved from PEI to Ayer’s Cliff with his wife in 2018. Their country residence is now their permanent home. Like so many others who have moved to the region, Eric enjoys the outdoors, kayaking on the lake, hiking and exploring, his camera at the ready.   
In January, 2021 Eric told us:
 
“I have been thinking for some time of contacting your organization to possibly offer my help as an expert and contribute to its objectives in the future.”
 
Eric has a Bachelor’s degree in agronomy, a Master’s degree in plant ecology and a PhD in water sciences, as well as years of experience in agri-environmental research before becoming the executive in charge of the scientific direction of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Research and Development Centres of Sherbrooke, Quebec City and Normandin.
 
Eric briefly explained that “his research career has led him to understand the complexity of agricultural landscapes in terms of soil, vegetation and hydrological variability in order to select the best agri-environmental management practices. The goal of his research program was to reduce the risk of non-point source pollution from fertilizers and other agricultural contaminants to waterways or the atmosphere in the form of greenhouse gases. He will certainly be able to contribute to the cause of the Lake Massawippi watershed!
 
Eric has had the opportunity to work at the scale of agricultural watersheds in Canada, he was Canadian co-chair of the International Joint Commission’s phosphorus working groups on the Great Lakes and Missisquoi Bay, Lake Champlain. He chaired an international scientific association of experts in Diffuse Pollution and Eutrophication before holding various management positions in international scientific cooperation, knowledge and technology transfer and scientific management of research and development centers in Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Quebec. His experience has led him to develop several scientific innovation strategies in the fields of agri-environment, potato production and dairy and swine production.
 
As a scientist with a passion for the region and an in-depth knowledge of farming Eric joined our board in June and has already made contributions. He headed our Farm Awards committee. As per our article last month, two farms were each awarded a $ 10,000 prize. Eric will now chair the Board’s  newly formed Agricultural Committee. The role and direction of the committee has yet to be determined. More news will be published in 2022. One thing is certain, the alliance between the Foundation and the worldwide movement towards sustainable farming practices is strong.
 
Our Vision for the next 10 years:
To support our vision for a green and prosperous Massawippi Valley, we are looking to expand our conservation efforts from only focusing on our rich forests to include various other types of ecologically vital lands.  The Massawippi Foundation and Massawippi Conservation Trust are joining the worldwide movement toward sustainable and resilient farming practices.  We feel that conservation also includes how we use our land – we will advocate for ways we can all keep our soil healthy, ways we can all add to the biodiversity of insects and birds and ways we can all protect streams in order to improve the health of our lake, the health of our farms and their produce and ultimately the quality of life for all who live here.
 
More than a mere coincidence, let’s call it synchronicity.

American Friends of Canadian Conservation

Tom Wilcox, a board member of the Massawippi Foundation and a Trustee of the Massawippi Conservation Trust, has most recently forged a formal relationship with US organization American Friends of Canadian Conservation (AF of CC), a relationship that promises to bring significant American resources to conservation organizations across Canada.  Mr. Wilcox serves as the Canadian-based representative for that organization.
American Friends of Canadian Conservation is a US charity that partners with Canadian conservation organizations and American owners of environmentally and ecologically significant lands to protect Canada’s lands. It helps to preserve Canada’s natural areas, scenic landscapes, sensitive watersheds, recreation resources, important habitat for fish, birds and wildlife, and the places that hold generations of family memories.
AF of CC was created to remove the tax and legal barriers that prevented US taxpayers from permanently protecting their Canadian natural lands. Gifts of land and conservation easements to American Friends are charitable donations in the US and effectively not subject to Canadian capital gains

https://conservecanada.org/portfolio-item/massawippi-conservation-trust/

Massawippi organizations work to conserve land in Quebec’s Eastern Townships

The border between Canada and the United States may be the world’s longest international border but it may also be the friendliest, with long-standing positive relationships between the residents of both countries. Quebec’s Eastern Townships is one region where that close connection is very apparent. Just 30 minutes or 36 km from the Vermont border, the charming town of North Hatley, Quebec traces its origins all the way back to 1792 when American Captain Ebenezer Hovey encountered Lake Massawippi during his explorations of the area. Of course, the first people to discover Lake Massawippi would have been the Abenaki First Nation who chose to name the 15-square-km lake Massawippi, a word meaning “abundance of clear water.”

Whether hundreds of years ago or today, there seems to be firm agreement that the landscape of the Massawippi area possesses great ecological and aesthetic value. Two organizations have been successful in their ongoing efforts to conserve land and the environment in the area.

In 1968, citizens came together to form what is now known as Blue Massawippi, an organization dedicated to protecting the ecological health of the Massawippi watershed area through research and education. And in 2010-2011, a group of concerned local residents established the Massawippi Foundation (FMF) and the Massawippi Conservation Trust (MCT), to facilitate fundraising for ongoing protection of the ecological integrity of the Lake and watershed area. While the Foundation supports activities that benefit the people of the region, the purpose of the Trust is to conserve the natural state of the land adjacent to Lake Massawippi and its tributaries, and to provide stewardship services for that land in perpetuity.
Currently the work of the Massawippi Conservation Trust is focused on undeveloped land on the west slopes of Lake Massawippi, stretching over six kilometers and rising up to the high ridge. Experts have noted the value of the old growth forest and a wide variety of rare or threatened flora and fauna on these lands. Tom Wilcox is a one of the founders of the Trust – his family has been escaping summers in the US and spending time in the Massawippi area for five generations.
“My great grandmother and grandfather came in 1890, making my brother’s grandchildren the sixth generation,” says Wilcox. “As development pressure on the ecologically sensitive lands increased, we saw an opportunity to create a means to protect the valuable resource.” The Massawippi Conservation Trust employs several methods to conserve land including: acquiring land through purchase or donation; establishing easements or servitudes; helping landowners understand the ecological and tax benefits of limiting the types of activities permitted; and helping landowners understand the effect of over-development on the overall well-being of the Massawippi watershed. Wilcox has had many proud moments over the past ten years during which time the Trust has raised more than $5,000,000.
“In addition to the cash, we have received donated properties and servitudes worth more than $3,000,000. Thanks to our donors and partners, we have become a leading voice for ecological health and sustainability,” said Patterson Webster, Chair of the Massawippi Foundation.
In June 2017, the community celebrated the dedication of the Massawippi Trail. Representatives from First Nations, English and French-speaking residents, families and elected officials all came together to officially open the trail system providing public access to what was once private property. In recognition of the original Abenaki people whose territory included this land, Métis Paul Carignan and his wife Sylvia Bertolini sang an Anishinaabe Sun Song. “The work we do with the Trust not only ensures land conservation in perpetuity, it provides access for families to appreciate and learn about nature – which over the past 18 months we have come to understand is even more essential to the well-being of our community and the planet.”
Both The Massawippi Conservation Trust and Blue Massawippi are now grantees of American Friends of Canadian Conservation, US taxpayers can support their work with a gift that is tax deductible in the US!
“We are very grateful to American Friends,” said Wilcox. “I would advise any American who might be considering the future of their property in Canada to investigate American Friends. With the tax benefits available, you can ‘do well, by doing good’.”
Annual Report 2019-2020
Conserve Canada 

The VIMO Farm

The Viens family is the winner of the Agri-Environmental Leadership Award for a conventional farm.
They were chosen by our committee to receive the first Agri-Environmental Leadership Award by meeting the criteria of the committee which consisted of :
Dr. Eric van Bochove, recently retired executive responsible for the scientific direction of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s research and development centres.
Dr. Darren Bardati, Professor and Chair of the Department of Environment and Geography at Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke.
Stéphanie Durand, who currently works for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in human resources and feed production management for their dairy herd: rotation, input purchases, crop management.Excerpts from the questions on the Leadership Prize application form.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR BUSINESS?
A 4th generation family business committed to producing high quality milk in a sustainable way. The respect for resources, people and animals is part of the company’s values. We are passionate about our work and are always looking for new knowledge.
ARE THERE OTHER ASPECTS OF AGRI-ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT ON YOUR FARM THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO TELL US ABOUT? 
We believe in regenerative agriculture which is a good concept to improve soil life.

Soils that will sequester carbon (slowing climate change), living soils that will need fewer pesticides and mineral fertilisers, so less leaching loss. We are working on returning animals to pasture which helps to restructure the soil and we will try compost tea which is a natural way to make a soil productive and resistant. We also want to improve the water cycle by reducing compaction and encouraging water infiltration into the soil.  The idea of collecting rainwater from the roofs of buildings is something we want to do.
WHAT WILL YOU USE YOUR $10,000 PRIZE MONEY?
-Purchase equipment that will help us do direct seeding of maize.
-Purchase plants and shrubs
-Take training courses
-Work with cover crop consultants.

A word of thanks from the Viens family –
Thank you again for this great competition, it gives us a boost and encourages us to continue our efforts for healthy ecosystems.

The Massawippi Foundation board is studying ways in which to further its impact on a green and healthy Massawippi Valley. The Massawippi Foundation and Massawippi Conservation Trust are joining the worldwide movement toward enhancing the agroecosystem resilience for  sustainable agricultural production.

Jean-Martin Fortier, Jane Elizabeth Gowman, Alexander Brand (Ferme Fellgarth) et Nathalie Viens, Pascal Viens (Ferme Vimo), Eric van Bochove.