My Grandfather Built Lake of the Clouds

My grandfather, Bing Young, built Lake of the Clouds in 1965. He worked in construction all his life. Castle Glen hired him as the caretaker. He plowed all the roads, took care of all the buildings, and he also built the lake. He did that until he retired around the year 2000. He lived across Grey Road 19. There’s an old farmhouse on the hill. When he retired Castle Glen gave him two acres of land and he built his house there.

I spent every weekend as a child up there, always hiking. The lake was stocked with speckled trout. That’s where I would spend all my Christmases. I proposed to my wife there, too, right at the arch of the castle.

My grandfather had to enforce the No Trespassing signs at certain times because big four-wheelers would come in off the Sixth Street extension, drive into the castle and rip up the trails. But other than that, everyone you talk to up there is very open about sharing the land. I’ve been going up there my whole life as a local. It’s always just something you do on weekends. The walk through the hardwood forest from the castle to Sixth Street is absolutely beautiful. It’s an ecosystem for a lot of wildlife. It’s a nice place to enjoy. When you come out of that forest the view over the whole area is incredible.

There’s a real lack of awareness about what could happen to the Castle Glen property. Until I heard about it from the Escarpment Corridor Alliance I had no idea that the land was sold to a big developer. The original Castle Glen owners had the dream of doing all this but they never had the funds to make it happen. I have the original pamphlet from Castle Glen when they were selling lots for $3,900 in the late ‘60s or early ’70s. The development was the kind of thing that was out of sight, out of mind. It was something from 15 or 20 years ago that stalled and everyone forgot about.

I’ve always been a mountain biker. One of my biggest concerns is that the nearby mountain bike trails at Three Stage will get destroyed. The soil is clay-based. When it’s wet and people ride there, the trails get damaged fast. A 1,600-home development, potentially a hotel, is just that much more traffic volume.

And for the road biking community, Grey Road 19 is a haven for cyclists. The increased traffic would be monumental. I can’t imagine all the dump trucks going up and down there.

I also worry about the Pretty River Provincial Park and the amount of people that the development will bring. And I don’t like the idea of a housing development right on the Bruce Trail corridor.

I’m not against development, but this is massive. I’m surprised that the environmental side isn’t being looked at more.

My grandfather passed away in 2002, but all those trails and forests are the same as I remember them. If that development is pushed through, it would change the whole landscape of the area.

My hope is that Castle Glen stays as it is for future generations to enjoy.

This article is edited and condensed from an interview with Jason Smith, an avid mountain biker and ECA volunteer who grew up in Collingwood and now lives in Wasaga Beach. 

Why We Need Natural Corridors (hint: they’re critical for conservation)

Why are natural corridors so important?

The Escarpment Corridor Alliance has incorporated the word ‘Corridor’ for a very specific reason; research is increasingly supporting the needed for ecologically connected networks is critical to the conservation of biological diversity, which provides irreplaceable functions and services, such as the provision of freshwater, food, climate regulation and pollination, just to name a few.

Ecological connectivity is the unimpeded movement of species and the flow of natural processes that sustain life on Earth. This definition has been endorsed by the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS, 2020) and underlines the urgency of protecting connectivity and its various elements, including dispersal, seasonal migration, fluvial processes and the connectivity that is inherently present in large wild areas.

Fragmentation caused by human activities continues to disrupt habitats, threatening biodiversity and impeding climate change adaptation. A large body of science and theory has been developing to address this problem in the context of protected areas.

About the Report

The purpose of the comprehensive Guidelines for Conserving Connectivity through Ecological Networks and Corridors is to consolidate this wealth of knowledge and best-available practices to support efforts to combat fragmentation. These Guidelines provide tools and examples (1) for applying ecological connectivity between protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and (2) for developing ecological networks for conservation. In doing so, these Guidelines advance best practices for protecting ecological networks that maintain, enhance and restore connectivity across both intact and human-dominated systems. As demand grows for innovative solutions at international, national and subnational levels, these Guidelines recommend formal recognition of ecological corridors to develop conservation networks and thus ensure effective conservation of biological diversity.

Key messages

  • Science overwhelmingly shows that interconnected protected areas and other areas for biological diversity conservation are much more effective than disconnected areas in human-dominated systems, especially in the face of climate change.
  • Although it is well understood that ecological connectivity is critical to the conservation of biodiversity, approaches to identify, retain and enhance ecological connectivity have been scattered and inconsistent. At the same time, countries on every continent, along with regional and local governments, have advanced various forms of corridor legislation and policy to enhance connectivity.
  • It is imperative that the world moves toward a coherent global approach for ecological connectivity conservation, and begins to measure and monitor the effectiveness of efforts to protect connectivity and thereby achieve functional ecological networks. To promote these goals, these Guidelines define ecological corridors as ways to identify, maintain, enhance and restore connectivity; summarize a large body of related science; and recommend means to formalize ecological corridors and networks.

Read the full Report on the importance of corridors here.