Eastern Township – mountaintops now protected
Green Mountains, Quebec (Photo by Claude Duchaîne)
Located just an hour’s drive from Montreal, the Eastern Townships boast large lakes, picturesque villages and green mountaintops. In the heart of this cottage country is the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC’s) Green Mountains Nature Reserve: the largest privately held conservation area in Quebec.
“I am delighted that all the mountain peaks visible in the region are now protected, thanks to NCC and the work of its partners,” states Nathalie Zinger, NCC’s regional vice president in Quebec.
Several of these mountains belonging to the Sutton Mountains are part of the Green Mountains Nature Reserve. This reserve is not only one of the last natural areas to remain intact in southern Quebec, it is also one of the most important connectivity zones in the Appalachian chain, which extends from the American state of Georgia through Quebec to Newfoundland. Comprising a myriad of ecosystems that are home to an abundance of species, this area is a priceless natural treasure.
It took 10 years to complete the Green Mountains Nature Reserve initiative. NCC’s first acquisition was made in 2001, in the Sutton Mountains, with the assistance of Appalachian Corridor and thanks to funding from partners such as the Fondation Hydro-Québec pour l'environnement. In 2004, following a major public awareness campaign, NCC extended its holdings in the area with lands formerly belonging to Domtar, thanks to the gift of land and the financial participation of the Government of Quebec, as well as various donors and foundations. Today, the nature reserve covers more than 17,300 acres (7,000 hectares).
The protected area is sufficiently vast to conserve the ecosystem’s diversity while also providing adequate habitat for a number of large mammals such as black bear, bobcat and moose. It also shelters more than 20 species of at-risk plants, including two-leaved toothwort, large-flowered bellwort and maidenhair fern.The reserve is home to several birds of prey, notably barred owl, peregrine falcon and broad-winged hawk, as well as 80 species of breeding birds. Birch, beech, ash and maple dominate the deciduous forest, and, at the highest altitude, the mixed-wood forest features mainly fir, spruce and birch.
NCC ensures that the public can benefit from this nature reserve, which is located near the Greater Metropolitan Region, while ensuring its longevity. In fact, the Green Mountains Nature Reserve is accessible to the public through three networks of hiking trails: the Parc d’environnement naturel de Sutton, the Sentiers de l’Estrie and the Appalachian Corridor. Access is provided through three points of entry, with each parking lot giving access to one of the three peaks. Interpretive material about the area’s natural environment is available on the nature reserve’s website (in French only).
The conservation efforts in this Appalachian corridor extend well beyond the Green Mountains Nature Reserve, thanks to the participation of 14 conservation groups, who together protect over 27,180 acres (11,000 hectares) of land. NCC will continue to work in conjunction with its local and regional partners in order to ensure the longevity of this green, mountainous landscape so characteristic of the Eastern Townships.
A master plan (in French only), which combines accessibility and protection of the territory, rallies more than 20 regional partners around a common vision for conservation, research and discovery, as well as the region’s economic development.
See below for directions:
Parking 520 of the Parc d’environnement naturel de Sutton
Parking of the chemin de la Falaise in Sutton
Ruiter Brook parking in Potton