Two South Glengarry forests should be gifted to steward: report

South Glengarry staff are recommending two forests be donated to a steward in order to protect the muncipality's forest cover. One of them (highlighted in seafoam green) is 15 acres (six hectares) south of Lancaster Heights, along the Ontario-Quebec border. (South Glengarry via Newswatch Group)

LANCASTER – South Glengarry staff are recommending two pieces of forested surplus land in the township be gifted to a steward instead of sold on the open market.

Planner Joanne Haley will recommend to council Monday night that they either be given to the Raisin Region Conservation Authority (RRCA) or the United Counties of SD&G.

One forest is 97 acres (39 hectares) between Caber Road and County Road 25, southwest of Glen Roy. The other is 15 acres (six hectares), south of the Lancaster Heights subdivision, along the Ontario-Quebec border.

The recommendation follows a review by a township-hired forester, who says the Caber Road site would be good for mountain bike or hiking trails given its “undulating topography.” The other near Lancaster Heights has “little opportunity for development of recreational trails.”

What’s more important is that keeping the land with either the county or the conservation authority would ensure the percentage of forest cover is protected, which was last calculated at just over 28 per cent in 2016.

The township could still hold the land but Haley isn’t recommending it.

“Administration does not recommend retaining ownership of both parcels due to the lack of forestry expertise on staff. Both organizations (RRCA and United Counties of SD&G) are excellent options to own and maintain these parcels of property.”

Councillors are expected to make a decision Monday when they meet for the first time in person since the pandemic began over two years ago. The meeting is at 7 p.m. in the new council chambers at Tartan Hall at the Char-Lan Recreation Center in Williamstown.

Whatever council’s decision, the county will be happy to see it remain in public hands.

“At the end of the day, we are happy to see it remain in the public domain and become part of a managed forest plan regardless of which direction South Glengarry wishes to go,” SD&G Planning Services Director Ben de Haan said in an email to Cornwall Newswatch.