Land at Eden Mills now under the tutelage of the Environmental Trust

Rare Cambridge-based Charitable Research Reserve donate nearly 13 acres along the Eramosa River east of Guelph

The Cambridge-based charity rare research reserve, together with local landowners and the community of Eden Mills, have completed the transfer of 12.8 acres straddling the West Branch of the Eramosa River to the Rare Earth Trust.

The property extends from the historic Mill Pond and seawall, and Rare will be responsible for its care and administration.

The land was donated by Carlo and Anna Simon, who have owned and taken care of it for decades. Charles Simon is an architect known as a pioneer in sustainable building design.

The Simonses bought Eden Mills Mill as well as the lands transferred to rares and remodeled the mill to be their home. They have spearheaded projects that promote sustainability with support from their community, including ongoing efforts since 2007 to make Eden Mills carbon neutral. This initiative has resulted in improved construction methods, carbon-free renewable energy plants and the planting of 40,000 trees.

“The Simonses wanted to make sure that the lands they had worked to protect would remain protected going forward,” explains rare planning ecologist Tom Woodcock. “To do this, they worked to sever the land behind the historic dam and donate it to rare.”

The 12.8-acre property straddles the West Branch of the Eramosa River from the historic Mill Pond Dam and features wetlands, a large floodplain, but also some dry forest. The Simons donated the property to Rare through the Green Gifts Program run by the Government of Canada.

The Simons were honored at a community event which took place in Eden Mills on Thursday, celebrating the land move.

The agreement is the culmination of more than two years of work, negotiated between the community of Eden Mills, the rare City of Guelph-Eramosa, and the outgoing Eden Mills Eramosa River Conservation Association, which has been helping to protect this land for years.

“The Eden Mills Eramosa River Conservation Association was founded in 1990 as a charitable organization to preserve the health of the river ecosystem and publicly accessible natural areas of Eden Mills,” says Tom.

“This grassroots effort continued as everyone worked towards a more permanent fix. This Thursday’s event represents a passing of the baton between EMERCA and rare. We will oversee the health and environmental protection of these lands from now on, with the help of the many volunteers and supporters who have helped EMERCA in the past”.

The property does not have any footpaths. However, visitors will appreciate the pond in the observation and interpretation area at the south end.

“The Simons, as well as the community of Eden Mills, have been outstanding stewards of the land over the past few decades,” says rare Executive Director Stephanie Sobek-Swant. “The donation of these rare earths will honor this relationship with the earth. We are humbled by what is entrusted to us and will ensure that these lands remain protected.”

The Rare Charitable Research Reserve is a charitable urban trust that manages over 1,200 acres of environmentally sensitive lands across eight properties in the Waterloo region and County Wellington while engaging the community to build support for understanding and protection of these lands.

The preserve maintains more than 12 miles of trails free and open to the public and runs research and education programs to appreciate these lands and their importance to the health and well-being of the surrounding community and generations to come.


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