Barnby Cade donated 32 hectares of land in Perth County to the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority. Photo submitted.

Donated land north of London open to public

The public can now walk a stretch of land donated by a Perth County farmer to the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA).

The roughly 32 hectares of land, dubbed the Cade Tract, was officially opened this week. It was named in honour of Barnby Cade who donated the land at 4695 Perth Road Line 5 in Granton to the conservation authority in 2016.

“The Cade Tract includes floodplain meadows along the Sommerville Drain, a mature maple woodlot, and a hawthorn thicket on the valley slope,” said Cathy Quinlan, terrestrial biologist at the UTRCA. “In 2007, we worked with the landowner to remove a small dam and reservoir to improve the watercourse, which has some cold water stream characteristics.”

While there are no managed trails, hikers can access the area through a spot at the south end of the property. Each December, there will be an annual controlled deer hunt.

The conservation authority plans to convert two hay fields to native tallgrass prairie later this year to provide habitat for grassland birds, such as the Bobolink. Trees will be planted in a third hay field to transform it into a woodlot.

Prior to donating the land, Barnby had always allowed locals to walk his property to see wildlife in their natural surroundings. In the hands of the UTRCA, it is expected even more animals will flock to the area as it becomes more naturalized.

Perth County has the lowest vegetation cover in the Upper Thames watershed due to its strong agricultural land use.

“This property offers a great opportunity to bring a little more nature back to the region,” according to the UTRCA.