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The Schafers: Dedicated Landowners Make the Most of Their Property for Wildlife

When Steve and Beverly Schafer moved from Georgetown to the Erin countryside last year, they were delighted to see the variety of wildlife on their property. Deer they expected, but spotting foxes, mink and snapping turtles really surprised them.

Protecting and enhancing wildlife habitat on the property is a priority for Steve. With forests, a wetland and the West Credit River running through the 50 acres, Steve explained, “when I was making changes on the property I wanted to make sure I wasn’t making things worse.” He attended CVC’s Caring for your Land and Water workshop to learn more about how to be a good land steward.  Steve commented, “Not only was the workshop presentation informative, I also learned a lot from the other landowners in attendance.”

After the workshop, Steve used Your Guide to Caring for the Credit to create an Action Plan that outlines what steps he wants to take on the property. This spring, he started by addressing the invasive ground cover periwinkle using CVC’s invasive species removal services. The periwinkle is now in control but he feels there’s still more to do. “I continue to hand pull the last remnants of periwinkle and am keeping an eye on four other invasive plants- lily of the valley, colt’s foot, buckthorn and dog-strangling vine so they don’t spread  further.”

Steve and Beverly took advantage of CVC’s Landowner Action Fund to help them get this first project started. “Having funding through the Landowner Action Fund definitely accelerated the invasive project. We would not have been able to do it as quickly.” They also used the Landowner Action Fund to purchase bird boxes to add more bird nesting habitat in the forests.

Steve is now shifting his focus to the forests on the property. In addition to the mixed forest, there are two plantation forests making up 25 acres. Steve notes, “The plantations need attention.” Following the Managed Forest Plan, prepared by a forestry consultant, Steve is looking forward to working with CVC to transition the plantations from rows of white pine and scots pine into natural mixed forest with a diversity of trees. Steve understands the benefits of large forests for wildlife. “Our forests extend to the edges of our property and we want to connect them with our neighbours’ forests to create healthy and continuous forest cover.”

Steve’s pride and enthusiasm radiates as he talks about the plans he has for his property.  Caring for a large rural property takes time and effort, but he is committed to making the most of his land for wildlife. Steve says, “With only a small area for our home, we are keeping the rest of the property natural.”