Windsor – The Essex Region Conservation Foundation celebrated its Annual General Meeting on March 26 and celebrated many incredible developments in 2013 with the efforts of many volunteers and donors working together towards the goal of creating a sustainable region.
“This past year has been a wonderful success for the Foundation. With new and renewed corporate partners, successful and fun special events, and new donors, we have a lot of thank yous to pass along,” said Ken Schmidt, President, Board of Directors.
The Foundation continues to work on the areas with the greatest need. To achieve this goal, the Foundation continues to protect and restore important natural areas, educates our community on the role of conservation, protects our cultural heritage, and connects people with our trails and natural spaces.
The Foundation presented its 2013 Annual Report, highlighting its achievements throughout the year towards a shared vision with ERCA for 2020 to achieve a sustainable environment with healthy watersheds, highlighted by clean creeks and Great lakes, thriving natural areas, productive agricultural lands; and vibrant places. The highlights of 2013 include:
Greening the Essex Region – The Fred Cada Memorial Forest. As important as acquiring lands, is restoring them. Planting trees to replace those been cut down or destroyed is imperative to a sustainable community. Through the Foundation, Heritage Forests have been established at three locations, memorializing loved ones and restoring areas to their natural state.
Over the past 18 years, a partnership with the Reid Funeral Homes has restored a natural forest by planting thousands of native trees, while honouring loved ones. The Fred Cada Memorial Forest is part of the Hillman Marsh Conservation Area. The trees planted over the years have now begun to form a tree canopy and trail as a truly natural forest has started to grow. In 2013 the Reid Funeral Homes demonstrated their continued commitment in leading this program with an $8,000 donation to plant more trees in this memorial forest.
This forest not only improves air and water quality in the Hillman Creek watershed, it also provides a shaded recreational area and habitat for wildlife, enhancing the quality of life in our region.
Connecting Communities – Windsor Family Credit Union. The proposed Essex-Amherstburg Greenway, a 22-km multi-use recreational trail intersecting the Chrysler Canada Greenway and connecting two municipalities, brings the Foundation’s vision of a region connected by trails one step closer to reality. Through the Foundation’s Trail On! campaign, individuals and organizations have the opportunity to sponsor or adopt a section of the Greenway. In 2013 Windsor Family Credit Union made a $10,000 commitment to sponsor a kilometer of the Essex-Amherstburg Greenway giving a big boost to the Trail On! campaign.
Trails continue to be an important part of our fundraising efforts. They support active lifestyles that improve health, and improve the overall character of a community and provide residents with the opportunity to enjoy the diverse environments and natural beauty of a region. Trails help create a sense of place and a sense of belonging.
Bringing Kids Outside – Outdoor education provides a unique alternative learning environment to allow children to reconnect and interact with nature. However many students aren’t given the opportunity to experience wildlife inside or outside of their classrooms. Unfortunately, many students from our community cannot afford to participate in such activities.
In response to this, the Essex Region Conservation Foundation has created a sponsorship to offset the costs of the education program to participating schools. In 2013 the Foundation received funding from Union Gas, Johnny ‘O Foods, TD Friends of the Environment, and RBC Blue Water Fund. These sponsorships provide youth the opportunity to experience the wonder of wildlife in and out of their classrooms.
Health & Prosperity – For business leader Richard Peddie natural areas and trails are very important to the health and prosperity of communities and individuals. In 2013, this former president of Maple Leafs Sports Entertainment, along with his wife Colleen, generously pledged $10,000 as a matching gift challenge to encourage the community to support the Foundation’s Trail On! campaign.
Richard, a proud Windsor native, is a generous donor to our community. For the past four years he has supported the Foundation’s Super Santa Run as an event sponsor, and as a participant!
Building to Protect – The Rosati Group. In 2004 when the Rosati Group wanted to preserve natural green space in our community, they made a commitment of a $100 donation for each subdivision lot they developed. In 2013, after ten years, the Rosati Group was able to make a $20,000 donation to the Foundation’s restoration fund.
This commitment demonstrates their clear commitment to the preservation of our environment. Rosati’s donation will protect natural areas and increase habitat in our community, ultimately making it a healthier place for our residents, and a more desirable place in which to live and invest. The Rosati Group hopes their vision in initiating this generous donation will help to inspire other developers to do the same.
Trail On! – The Richard & Colleen Peddie Matching Gift Challenge was a huge success thanks to your support! The Challenge has raised $20,000 to help complete the Essex-Amherstburg Greenway. We are very lucky to have such generous and enthusiastic donors! Although the matching challenge has ended, fundraising continues for the Trail On! campaign
“Looking into the year ahead, many of our new partners will continue to grow as projects gain momentum. Our partners and volunteers will continue to expand and, with their support, will further assist the mission of the Foundation,” said Schmidt.
The Essex Region Conservation Foundation supports ERCA by raising the funds required to reforest and green the Essex region, protect those significant natural areas that remain, plant new forests in strategic locations, restore wetlands, protect cultural heritage, and increase green connections through acquiring and developing trails.