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  • Trevor Greenway

ACRE saves Chelsea forest

When it comes to preserving greenspace in Chelsea, Hills residents are certainly putting their money where their mouths are.

Action Chelsea for the Respect of the Environment (ACRE) has preserved 70 acres of land in Larrimac, thanks to the generous donations of 144 Hills residents, who raised close to half a million dollars to save the Jolicoeur-McMartin Forest.

The innovative deal that brings unlikely partners to the table will see ACRE purchase 70 acres of land behind the Larrimac Golf Course to become part of the Larrimac Ecological Corridor — a federally-recognized protected area for wildlife to move between Gatineau Park and the Gatineau River.

ACRE President Stephen Woodley said his organization had been eyeing the property for some time, as it boasts old-growth groves, including threatened butternut trees and “ancient wetlands,” and is home to several endangered species. The deal comes with a provision that states any future sale of the five new lots will see one per cent go back to ACRE for long-term stewardship.

“In the ponds, the turtles are at risk,” said Woodley. ”We get some nice populations of turtles in these ponds. There’s giant trillium. And there’s probably more once we do a full inventory of this place.”

ACRE paid $800,000 for 70 acres of land from Chelsea resident Pierre McMartin. A remaining 18 acres of his land is slated for the development of five homes at the end of Chemin Descartes, where McMartin said he plans to build his dream home.