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Keddy donation to Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust

A square kilometer of forest and swamp permanently protected

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One of the first decisions we made when preparing for marriage back in 1976, when we were still students at Dalhousie University in Halifax, was to buy our first 100 acres of forest in Lanark County.  Many thought we were foolish.  But we had walked that property and seen 30 pairs of herons nesting in a wetland. How better to celebrate a marriage than to protect these magnificent creatures.  Over the years we camped and eventually built a small cabin where we spent many happy weekends.  As we got to know the property better, we found a stream that flowed to the east, and a patch of wild orchids in a seepage area.  We owned neither.  But over time, these properties came on the market, and we added them to our debt load.  Twice we could only buy a property after it had been logged.  This was painful, but we knew that whatever the long term damage, the trees would eventually regrow and wildlife habitat would recover.  The last property was the toughest, buying it after the landowner had quite deliberately increased the price and sold the logging rights, just to be spiteful.  The skidders were already felling huge beech trees as we signed the mortgage papers.  My parents very generously contributed so we could buy out the logging company before it felled thirty acres having the oldest trees.  At this point we were the proud owners of a square mile. 

            Now there is a commitment.  Not only were we responsible for protecting the forest, and for making our monthly payments, but at home we had two growing children, while on the land we had populations of salamanders and frogs and warblers and turkey vultures.  What a family!  When Paul became ill, finances were stretched the limit.  Eventually, we left as a family for eight years in Louisiana where Paul earned enough money to pay off the accumulated debts. Now it was all ours!  But there would be little point in protecting 100 year old oaks or populations of wild orchids if the new owner would simply log them or create estate lots.  We were determined to pass it on intact.  The Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust has agreed to take over from us in the long run. And  999 years (renewable!) is indeed a long term arrangement!