Baxter Creek Watershed Alliance – A Community Invitation!

Photo Kirk Hillsley.
This is an aerial view of a portion of the beautiful and currently vacant 106-acre property that previously housed a provincial correctional facility. Coveted for its natural beauty and strategic location, the future of the property has been a topic of speculation since the jail closed in 2003. Currently owned by Infrastructure Ontario, it has been deemed redundant, fueling expressions of interest to acquire it from a new not-for-profit group, the Baxter Creek Watershed Alliance, as well as the township.

Early settlers called the township known now as Cavan-Monaghan, “this green and pleasant land.” 

Since that time, an ever increasing number of people have discovered the charms of this special place.  Newcomers and long-time residents alike have expressed keen interest in protecting and enhancing the natural heritage of this municipality.

The Baxter Creek watershed covers a large area of the municipality of Cavan-Monaghan. Healthy watersheds (the land area that drains into a streams, rivers or lakes) provide critical ecological services such as drinking water and outdoor recreation; benefits that support our economies, environment and quality of life.  Each watershed contains a unique mixture of land and water habitats – from wetlands, rivers and lakes, to forests and grasslands, to farms, towns and urban centres. Both wild life and human life depend on the continuous cycling of water and nutrients through ecosystems that are part of the watershed.

In response to keen public interest, the Baxter Creek Watershed Alliance (BCWA), website – a registered non-profit organization was formed over the last year as a community platform to monitor and report on the state of the watershed and promote a dynamic environmental legacy for the local community and beyond. All members of the public and organizations are being welcomed to join and participate in this active alliance that is working collectively with the community and all levels of government to make this long-term environmental vision a reality.

The Old Millbrook Jail Lands Association, is one early initiative of the BCWA to engage in a land use planning process and acquisition of the 42 hectare (105 acre) property locally known as the ‘Millbrook Jail Lands’. This land securement plan is being proposed in possible partnership with government and other agencies. Kawartha Land Trust, is a strategic partner of BCWA and is assisting in the possible acquisition of the former Millbrook jail lands. Part of the vision is to conserve, restore and enhance this natural area within the intensifying urban fabric of Millbrook and surrounding area through an ecologically-based re-development plan for the long-term benefit and enjoyment of the community – for this land to be kept in the public trust.  BCWA has presented Cavan-Monaghan Council with a letter of intent and gave a formal presentation to Council at the December 20th 2021 Council meeting.

Everyone, from all ages, who would like to support and/or participate in protecting the watershed and enhancing the natural environment of Cavan-Monaghan is encouraged to join and sign up on the website to receive periodic newsletters with information and special news. The website contains both a vision and mission statement and will continually provide information on conserving the Baxter Creek watershed, historic and scientific facts and illustrations, invitations to participate in special community projects, how an individual and/or organization can help, plus news and events. Questions, information and suggestions are also welcomed through the contact form on the website.

Joining the Baxter Creek Watershed Alliance (BCWA) will provide exciting opportunities for the community to ensure a healthy, sustainable future for everyone!!! KG

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