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Group's $300K purchase guarantees protection of King Mountain

‘It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,’ says president of Algoma Highlands Conservancy, which has launched a fundraising campaign to help pay for the 332 acres of land
Algoma Highlands Conservancy volunteer coordinator Ruth Koskenoja (left) and vice-president Dave Fanslowe (right) are pictured at the eastern gate of the AHC's newly purchased property on King Mountain.

The Algoma Highlands Conservancy (AHC) is kicking off a fundraising campaign to help pay for 332 acres of property it recently purchased along the eastern portion of King Mountain.

Located 30 km north of the Sault, the property is known as the "Ebare Tract" — named after Lorny and Julie Ebare, who previously owned the land before they sold it to AHC earlier this year.

Having already owned the western portion of King Mountain since 2009, the conservancy’s $300,000 purchase of the eastern side will guarantee the protection of nearly the entire mountain and will extend the group's landholdings to just over 3,300 acres.

AHC president Kees van Frankenhuyzen says the Ebare Tract features an 18 km trail that goes all the way around the circumference of King Mountain — an area that has been relatively untapped until now.

“It wasn’t open before because Ebare property covered a 2 km section of the trail and it was private property so you couldn’t go on it,” he says. “The whole loop is now open to hiking, biking, and skiing.”

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to purchase the land.”

Standing as one of the highest locations in Ontario, King Mountain features an abundance of wildlife – some of which is endangered — and a variety of natural wonders that made the AHC’s purchase necessary to ensure its protection.

“It’s important that land is protected from a biodiversity point of view,” Frankenhuyzen says. “The land is used by moose, wolves, otters, beavers — you name it. It’s a beautiful piece of Algoma.”

“The uniqueness about King Mountain is the elevation rises right up from the Lake Superior shoreline, so it’s very impressive. It has a tremendous cliff formation and it’s very scenic.”

The conservancy president notes that the new trail system will present both locals and tourists with a great opportunity to expand their perspective of some of Algoma’s most stunning nature.

“Outdoor recreation is becoming more important in our crazy times,” he says. “During COVID, people realized how important it is to have a connection with the outdoors. In Sault Ste. Marie, we’re very fortunate to experience that connection very easily. You don’t have to drive far or hike far to be completely inspired by the power and the beauty of nature.”

Having owned and maintained the Robertson Cliffs property since 1999, the AHC has been delighted to see an abundance of residents taking advantage of their trail systems all year long.

Now, the retired biologist and long-time AHC board member wants to make sure the public is aware of the costs that go into purchasing, maintaining, and protecting those lands with the hope that the community can help contribute to the natural beauties of the area.

“Last year, we had 6,000 people hike the Robertson Cliffs trail,” Frankenhuyzen says. “We spend about $10,000 a year to keep those trails opened. Not many people know that land is owned and managed by the conservancy – a public, not-for-profit organization.”

“We’re working hard to get our message out to people that this is conservancy land, and if you want to use it, we could really use the support. We have to fundraise to pay off the loans.”

More information on the Algoma Highlands Conservancy can be found visit here.