American families donate Howe Bay forest to Nature Conservancy of Canada

February 15, 2019
Charlottetown, PEI


The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) today announced the conservation of 12.5 hectares (31 acres) of forest in Howe Bay, southeast of Souris, for wildlife habitat. The new nature reserve features mature red maple and red spruce, along with 60- to 80-year-old aspen trees, some measuring up to seven feet in circumference, which provide valuable nesting areas.

The forested land, a former farm, was donated to NCC by the Lennon and Sullivan families, two American families with roots in PEI. They have named it the Elizabeth Walsh Nature Reserve in honour of their Great Aunt Lizzie, who farmed on her own for decades after her brothers died in an influenza epidemic in 1918. Wood from Walsh’s abandoned farmhouse will be reclaimed and recycled by Birdmouse, a PEI company.

NCC’s newest nature reserve was conserved strategically to expand protected forest habitat. It is located near two wildlife conservation areas, Sailors Hope Bog Natural Area and Grove Pine-Big Brook Wildlife Management Area, both protected by the provincial government.

The mature aspen trees at NCC’s Howe Bay nature reserve are preferred by woodpeckers, the only species able to create nesting cavities in the wood. Once the cavities are abandoned by woodpeckers, they provide habitat for many other types of wildlife, including flying squirrels. This older forest also supports a rich diversity of plants, such as the provincially rare Christmas fern.

This conservation project was completed with the support of the Government of Canada, through the Natural Areas Conservation Program. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Minister Lawrence MacAulay represented the Minister of Environment and Climate Change at the conservation announcement in Charlottetown.

Additional funding for this conservation project was provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, a U.S. Act passed by the United States Congress in 1989. NCC would like to thank the PEI Wildlife Conservation Fund and American Friends of Canadian Nature for their support for this project, as well as Cooke Insurance Group.


“At the Nature Conservancy of Canada, we are thrilled to be conserving this special forest habitat — one that is rare on PEI. I would like to thank the Lennon and Sullivan families for donating this beautiful property to benefit wildlife and the community. I would also like to thank the federal government for its support for this conservation project through the Natural Areas Conservation Program. NCC is looking to expand this new nature reserve and we welcome the opportunity to work with any landowners wishing to conserve more of Howe Bay’s forests.”

Lanna Campbell, PEI program director for the Nature Conservancy of Canada

“On behalf of my colleague Catherine McKenna, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, I am proud to announce the establishment of the Elizabeth Walsh Nature Reserve to conserve important wildlife habitat in Howe Bay, PEI. Through the Natural Areas Conservation Program, our government is collaborating with the Nature Conservancy of Canada and making progress toward doubling the amount of protected nature across Canada’s lands and oceans.”

The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Member of Parliament for Cardigan

“Great-aunt Lizzie’s practicality might have left her astounded by the idea of her farm being preserved as conservation land, but her love of the land was deep and essential. She lived on the farm for nearly a century and at one time was known as the fastest potato picker in King’s County. In later years, when she was elderly and frail (she spent her winters in a Souris nursing home) she insisted on returning to her trailer on the farm each summer, even when she could do little but sit and look out at her land. That still mattered; she knew the worth of that land. We hope her spirit will continue to keep watch over it, now that it’s the Elizabeth Walsh Nature Reserve.”

Tom and Laurie Sullivan, Mary Ellen and Ray Lennon, land donors


The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the nation's leading not-for-profit, private land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped to protect more than 1.1 million hectares (2.8 million acres) across the country. The Nature Conservancy of Canada has conserved more than 31,000 hectares (77,000 acres) in the Atlantic provinces. To learn more, visit

The Government of Canada's Natural Areas Conservation Program (NACP) is a unique public-private partnership to accelerate the pace of land conservation across southern Canada. The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) manages the program. Federal funds are matched by contributions raised by NCC and its partners. Habitat conserved under the NACP enhances natural corridors and other protected areas.

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Media Contact:

Kathryn Morse
Director of Communications - Atlantic Provinces

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