Celebrating two new Conservation Easements

Posted on May 1, 2021

The Georgian Bay Land Trust’s number of Protected Areas continues to grow with properties number sixty-three and sixty-four: the Halpenny Easement in Cognashene and Roberts Island Reserve in Honey Harbour.


Halpenny Easement • 9.9 acres • Cognashene

The Halpenny Easement provides habitat for an impressive array of Species at Risk. Property owners Beth and Tom Halpenny have themselves documented five: three snake species, one turtle and one bird. Together with the initial Baseline Study and further surveys conducted by the Georgian Bay Land Trust’s Summer Conservation Interns during summer 2020, fourteen listed species have been positively identified on the Halpenny Easement.

Halpenny protects a variety of important habitats including a high quality coastal meadow marsh, several small open rock barrens, treed rock barrens and mixed forest communities. The “keyhole” marsh is particularly rich and productive; like the coastal marshes throughout Georgian Bay its emergent vegetation has been inhibited temporarily by the extreme high water of the past few years. The marsh provides foraging, basking and hibernation sites for Midland Painted, Northern Map and Common Snapping turtles, and also supports Eastern Massasaugas. A beautiful Canada Warbler was spotted singing on territory in the mixed coniferous-deciduous forest adjacent to the marsh during the Baseline. The Halpennys have recorded the call of an Eastern Whip-poor-will, and have also captured photos of a Northern Map turtle, and three at-risk snake species on the property. Additionally the calls of two at risk bats, Little Brown Myotis and Eastern Small-Footed Myotis, were recorded by an acoustic monitor installed and left on the property for several weeks last August.


Roberts Island Reserve • 30.5 acres • Honey Harbour

Donated by Jill Hodgins Ukrainec and Terry Ukrainec, the 30.5 acre Roberts Island Reserve is a generous-sized and diverse property that features a large Provincially Significant Wetland along its south shore. Roberts Island Reserve’s forest communities shows its more southern affinities; a Dry-Fresh Oak Deciduous Forest makes up almost half of its land area, and the bulk of the balance is Oak-Red Maple-Pine Treed Rock Barren. White Pine is not the dominant tree species here. Like its huge Georgian Bay Islands National Park neighbour across the bay, Beausoleil Island, Roberts is on the transition or “contact” zone between northern Shield and southern Moraine, and as the soil deepens moving inland from the coast, the species mix and dominance changes. There are abundant White Oak for instance, and big Red cedars (actually an upright juniper).

Four at-risk reptiles were identified during the Roberts Island Baseline Study and subsequent surveys, conducted again by our trusty Summer Conservation Interns. The Ukrainecs have spotted a further three snake Species at Risk on their property. During the Baseline Study we startled a small herd of White-tailed deer who scattered into the forest, and a Bald eagle was spotted during a survey visit by the Interns.

The Roberts Island Reserve property is of a size and location such that it will link coastal migration routes, and allow for seasonal wildlife movement.


The Georgian Bay Land Trust would like to thank and commend the Halpenny and Ukrainec families for contributing to the protection of Georgian Bay through their kind Conservation Easement donations. We would also like to thank the Government of Canada’s Natural Heritage Conservation Program for providing funding to support these projects.

Please know that since they are Conservation Easement Agreement donations, the Halpenny and Roberts Island properties are still owned privately by the donors, and are not open to public visits.