Only $23K left to save Wakefield forest
In early December, the Hundred Acre Wood fundraiser was about $650,000 from it’s $1.5 million goal. Now there’s about $23,000 to raise to save the forest.
Action Chelsea for the Respect of the Environment (ACRE) board member and land trust operations director Olaf Jensen said that mainly grants, both federal and provincial, and some donations came through during the past couple months to bridge the fundraising gap.
“It feels very, very good,” he said when asked what it’s like to be on the home stretch. “It’s only been a year but it’s felt long. The community support has been great.”
Jensen said that agreements from the “big donors” need to be signed before more can be announced about them.
The deadline to buy the 100 acre parcel just east of Chemin Rockhurst near Wakefield is March 31.
Private donations and pledges total over $500,000. Grant funding, including a municipality of La Pêche grant of $16,080 from its municipal green fund and the National Capital Commission’s $100,000 grant, total $865,000, Jensen said.
In December, Jensen told the Low Down that ACRE was waiting to hear back from the province about a $350,000 grant.
The fundraiser to purchase and preserve theforest for non-motorized recreational use in perpetuity began in March 2021. This came on the heels of a successful $850,000 community fundraiser in February, which purchased 57 acres of undeveloped forest – now called Forêt aux étangs – in Chelsea near the Musie Loop neighbourhood for conservation purposes, with ACRE also acting as the land trust.
Hundred Acre Wood – formerly known as the Minnes Lands – is home to at-risk species, including western chorus frogs, monarch butterflies, and bobolink blackbirds, as well as eastern white cedars — rare in this area due to centuries of logging. The land is also identified by the National Capital Commission as an important ecological corridor for wildlife moving throughout Gatineau Park.
The land has been in Minnes family hands since they purchased it in 1973 from the Trowsse family. In the past, Minnes sought to develop the land but couldn’t find a residential development partner that shared his values. In total his property is 160 acres.
Following the Hundred Acre Wood sale, the 60 remaining acres will continue to be used by Minnes’s business, Eco Echo, which provides environmental education programs.
In 2013, then-La Pêche mayor, now-Gatineau MNA Robert Bussière, wanted to expropriate 20 to 45 acres of Minnes’ land for development.
ACRE welcomes partnerships and donations on this project. This can be organized through its website, acrechelsea.qc.ca/eng/hundredAcreWood.html, or the Hundred Acre Wood Facebook page.