Donors choose lake protection over development

Ontario Construction News staff writer

Over 3,000 feet of natural shoreline and nearly 25 acres of land will be protected forever in one of Lake Rosseau’s busy bays, thanks to the generosity of the Lang and Mersky families.

Muskoka Conservancy hosted a small champagne toast recently, to celebrate the major donation of Highlands Island Nature Reserve, located near Minett.

“What makes Don and Karen Lang and Seth and Theresa Mersky extremely special is that their lots were zoned for development,” said Scott Young, Muskoka Conservancy spokesperson, adding the donors chose to protect nature over selling the land on the open market for millions of dollars.

Muskoka Conservancy now owns the property and is in the process of rezoning it as environmentally protected. While the Conservancy protects 49 conservation properties in all corners of Muskoka, this is its first property on Lake Rosseau. “Hopefully just the beginning,” says Young. “This is an example for other landowners that you do have a choice.”

Highlands Island had once been the subject of a development proposal featuring 14 to 20 cottage lots ringing its shores. To prevent this, Lang and Mersky purchased the island and divided it into six lots, donating the two largest to Muskoka Conservancy.

Four cottage lots are located along the southwest shore in areas that were previously developed.

Conserving natural shoreline protects against erosion, benefitting water quality and the overall health of Muskoka’s lakes. It provides habitat for fish and other wildlife and is cherished by neighbouring cottagers who enjoy natural views and reduced boat traffic, the conservancy said.


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