Anonymous donor pledges to match $50K for watershed conservation efforts

The Thousand Islands Watershed Land Trust is marking the first year of a five-year, $5-million project that will mitigate climate change.

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An anonymous donor is pledging to match up to $50,000 in donations for the Thousand Islands Watershed Land Trust to fund vital conservation efforts in an internationally-recognized region of ecological importance.

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The land trust is marking the first year of a five-year, $5-million project after receiving a federal grant awarded to organizations working on projects that will mitigate climate change.

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“We’re at a little over one million of our $5-million goal in year one, so we are well on track and actually beyond our year-one goal for fundraising,” said land trust executive director Calder Schweitzer.

“But this ($50,000) pledge is the largest single donation-matching contribution we’ve ever had, so we’re really excited about that.”

The mystery donor has promised to match every dollar donated — up to $50,000 — from the launch of the fundraising campaign in mid-November until Dec. 31.

“They are looking to make a major donation to the land trust and so every dollar donated to the land trust (by individuals) up to Dec. 31 is going to be matched by this donor, up to a total of $50,000,” Schweitzer said. “So, if someone goes in and makes a donation, they’re actually donating double that amount.”

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The Thousand Islands Watershed Land Trust (TIWLT) has been in operation since 1993 and has had stewardship of more than 6,000 acres of conservation land during that time.

The group currently has stewardship over 1,800 acres and is working in a collaborative effort with other organizations, agencies and charities to expand their reach.

The group has its sights set on a provincially-significant wetland complex in the Athens area near Charleston Lake known as the Leeders Creek wetland complex.

“It is massively important for the water quality, the water level control for all systems downstream,” Schweitzer said. “All of this is regulated by the wetland complex, so we are really focusing our conservation work there.”

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The work is vitally important, he added, with the ecologically sensitive area under constant threat from development.

“New housing developments are going in all the time, and we’re concerned that, with the More Homes Built Faster Act, it’s only going to be easier to develop wetlands in the future, which is why we think it’s so important to be protecting them now,” Schweitzer said.

“That’s one of the great things about this land trust: We are obligated to protect these lands — forever — and guarantee they will remain natural and protected,” Schweitzer said.

The area the land trust is working to protect is called the “crossroads of the continent” and it is one of the last places where wildlife can freely move between the Adirondack Mountains and the Canadian Shield to the vast wilderness of Northern Ontario, Schweitzer said. The region is a crossroads of sorts with an east-west ecological corridor linking the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean.

“We have an immense amount of biodiversity, a third of all species at risk in Ontario, and an ecosystem unique to the region. It’s an internationally recognized ecological gem, but that hasn’t stopped threats from development.”

The land trust is accepting donations through its website at

[email protected]

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