Kirkfield-area rancher receives environmental award for stewardship
John Kinghorn recognized by The Couchiching Conservancy
The Carden Nature Festival recognized rancher John Kinghorn for his history of environmental stewardship at the festival banquet on June 1.
Kinghorn operates a beef farm near Cambray, and for the past decade has pastured cattle on the Carden Alvar north of Kirkfield.
In making the presentation, Ron Reid from the Couchiching Conservancy noted that Kinghorn had helped to build bridges between agricultural and environmental interests in the area.
“John has taught us a lot about the tough economic realities of the beef industry, but at the same time has demonstrated exemplary environmental stewardship through his management,” he said.
Kinghorn’s cattle spent their summers on the 1,600- acre Windmill Ranch, which was purchased in 2007 by a coalition of conservation organizations. The ranch is home to a diversity of grassland birds, including the endangered Loggerhead Shrike, as well as a colourful array of alvar plants. It is slated to become part of Carden Alvar Provincial Park in future.
“We are committed to keeping cattle ranching on this property,” Reid said, “because grazing is essential to maintain the habitat conditions for grassland birds. We hoped to be able to work with a rancher who would un- derstand our biodiversity priorities, and John proved to be a great partner.”
Over the past seven years, the conservancy and Kinghorn have completed a series of improvements on the ranch, including fencing to exclude cattle from sensitive areas, innovative solar-powered watering systems, and improved corrals for livestock management. Kinghorn has also been an active participant in the Carden Forum, a discussion group set up by the conservancy to help resolve issues among conservation interests, the aggregate industry, and local landowners and residents.
Over the past decade, more than 8,000 acres of the Carden Alvar have been acquired for conservation, primarily through the involvement of Nature Conservancy of Canada. Quarry companies have also purchased thousands of acres, and the shallow limestone bedrock is considered an important source of aggregate supply for the Greater Toronto area. Traditional cat- tle ranching activities, which have been the major land use in the area for over a century, are facing an uncertain future both because of these ownership changes and because of global market forces.
“Wherever possible, we want to work with the ranching community to keep cattle on areas of good pasture,” Reid said. “The future of grassland birds depends on the ability of ranchers like John Kinghorn to act as good stewards of their lands.”
Rancher John Kinghorn