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Looking for a winter wildlife walk? Consider a drive to Desbarats (12 photos)

The Kensington Conservancy offers wildlife and 3.5-kilometres of walking trail which can be snowshoed in winter

In the heart of Desbarats is a beautiful and pristine piece of property known as The Kensington Conservancy.  

I met up with Executive Director Tanna Elliott and Program Manager, Carter Dorscht, who explained what it is and how it came to be.

"The Kensington Conservancy is a land trust that works to protect lands and waters by purchasing property, accepting donations of land and through voluntary conservation agreements," said Dorscht. "These protection methods are all aimed at protecting our precious landscape in perpetuity. The Kensington Conservancy also believes that conservation and preservation can be achieved through the good stewardship practices of all property owners.

"We work with local landowners, farmers, governments, schools and other organizations to develop programs that will promote greener and less intensive development, best land and water management practices, invasive species control and low impact recreational activities. Our membership includes residents of Canada and the United States who represent various interests including permanent and seasonal residents, government, business and the scientific and academic communities. 

"As one of North America’s few bi-national land trusts, The Kensington Conservancy is a registered charity in both Canada and the United States."

Located on Boyer Drive in Desbarats their facility is known as The Kensington Conservation Centre and houses offices and a conference room which doubles as space used for learning, amongst other things. The centre is located on the Boyer Preserve, which is one of their many nature preserves in the area.

The trailhead for the Foster Parkland and Walking Trails is located right on this property as well. 

This trail system earned its title when a donation of 40 acres was received from former local MP Maurice Foster, which came with hiking trails.

The Kenisngton Conservancy acquired the adjacent property, the Boyer Preserve, in 2016, and expanded the trails to what they are now. 

They include approximately 3.5-kilometres of developed trail on uneven ground with some steep inclines and declines.

In the winter time, the trails are used for snowshoeing and in other seasons hiking, guided walks and special programs.

Although they are maintained trails, they are not groomed in winter. You can walk them during your choice of hours. Bringing your own equipment is up to you. The conservancy does have a couple of walking poles to loan, but only when the office is open.

The Kensington Conservancy is a not-for-profit charitable organization. There are no fees for trail use, but the organization does rely on voluneers and donations to operate.

If you have something to offer, or are interested in purchasing a membership, I'm sure they would appreciate your offerings.

During the summer months, summer students help with property management and summer programs.

"They monitor our nature preserves, looking for natural and human disturbances, such as invasive species, burns, significant windfalls, unauthorized camping, ATV-use, etc.," said Dorscht. "They also collect data on what species of flora and fauna are present on each preserve, especially species at risk. Our summer programs consist of youth and community education on stewardship and the environment, fundraising events, and guided hikes on our preserves."

Many events take place at the Conservancy, some of the likes of which Dorscht highlighted are day camps for children during the summer. The trails and properties are a haven for nature enthusiasts. A plethora of wildlife, birds and plant species can be found here. 

For more information on The Kensington Conservancy or the Foster Parkland and Walking Trails you can check out the conservancy's website, or contact Dorscht at 705-782-2200 or

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About the Author: Violet Aubertin

Violet Aubertin is a photograher and writer with an interest in Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma's great outdoors
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