Muskoka Conservancy is pleased to announce that a small but significant nature reserve has been established following the generous donation by The Bert Cross Family of Bracebridge. Muskoka’s newest nature reserve is just 10.5-acres, but it is significant because it is the first protected section of Henry Marsh, a well-known and popular wetland destination for birders and naturalists.

“A debt of gratitude is owed to the Cross Family,” said Scott Young, Muskoka Conservancy Executive Director. “This is a family that values nature, and clearly appreciates this specific property as part of a locally significant natural feature, Henry Marsh. They are willing to back that up by donating their land. We are absolutely thrilled to facilitate the process and carry the responsibility to protect this land forever.”

The conservation land will be the 37th property stewarded by Muskoka Conservancy’s staff and volunteers.

The Bert Cross Family Nature Reserve, Henry Marsh, and the surrounding woodlands are critical habitat to local breeding birds. Golden-winged Warbler, Red-shouldered Hawk, Least Bittern, American Bittern, and Pied-billed Grebe have all nested there. During spring and fall migration the area is an excellent location to find songbirds, and the thermals rising off the ridge of land to the south of the marsh are inviting to hawks. Otters and beavers are seen frequently, along with the occasional Moose and Black Bear. Eastern Coyotes have also been heard howling and yipping at night. Dragonflies, damselflies, butterflies, and moths are also attracted to the wide variety of flowering plants.

“The only way Muskoka Conservancy does any of this is by working with partners,” said Young. “Our friends at the Muskoka Field Naturalists made a generous donation to help establish this new nature reserve, and we thank them. We are working with other partners, and we plan to continue reaching out to the particular parties who have all the control when it comes to protecting Henry Marsh.”