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The Haliburton Forest & Wild Life Reserve Ltd. (Haliburton Forest) is a privately owned forest, comprising 300 square kilometres (120 sq mi) in the Haliburton Highlands of Ontario, Canada, about 270 kilometres (170 mi) northeast of Toronto, and just south of and abutting Algonquin Provincial Park.
Haliburton Forest is a "multi-use forest", with attractions such as the Haliburton Forest Wolf Centre, the world's longest Canopy Walk as well as the world's only freshwater tour submarine. Haliburton Forest operates recreation, tourism and education programs year-round. The company claims to operate progressive, sustainable resource management practices on its lands. Its forestry operations were the first to be certified by the international Forest Stewardship Council in Canada. Haliburton Forest supports an array of high profile, ecosystem based research projects, primarily conducted by the University of Toronto's Faculty of Forestry.
The northern townships of Peterborough County in the British North-American Province of Upper Canada were first surveyed during the winters of 1862/63. In 1885, 10 of these townships (basically the present municipality of Dysart et al, Ontario) were sold to the London-based Canadian Land and Emigration Company under the leadership of Thomas Chandler Haliburton.
The company planned on subdividing its extensive holdings into 100-acre (0.40 km2) lots and selling them to British emigrants as farmland. Those plans crumbled as soon as it became obvious that the lands in question, with the exception of small parcels, were unsuitable for agriculture. The company went into receivership and was renamed the "Canadian Land and Immigration Company", with headquarters in Toronto.
From 1870 to 1910, large lumber companies acquired cutting rights and cleared most of the white pine stands.
By the 1930s, up to 80,000 acres (320 km2) remained in the hands of the Algonquin Corporation who continued harvesting timber until they were acquired by Hay and Co., a veneer milling company based in Woodstock, Ontario, in 1946. Between 1946 and 1971, more than 150,000,000 board feet (350,000 m3) of lumber had been sawn and several million more board feet of veneer left northern Haliburton for the mother mill in Woodstock. Most of this timber was cut on the land that today makes up Haliburton Forest.
By 1960, two detailed forest inventories suggested that the harvestable volume of timber was rapidly declining on Hay and Co. lands, which had been taken over in the meantime by Weldwood of Canada. The decline through harvesting methods and volumes during the past was deemed detrimental to future production and the land was put up for sale.
In 1962, German Baron von Fuerstenberg acquired the Weldwood property and renamed his holding Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve Ltd. Previously, the lakeshores of Redstone and Kennisis Lakes had been sold off to a development company. The timber rights remained with the Weldwood mill until 1967 before being turned over to the new company. A few years later, in 1970, the sawmill at Kennisis Lake closed down.
The traditional activities on which Haliburton Forest has always depended and which have prevented development from destroying this wilderness treasure are still underway. Logging is conducted on an extensive scale and in a way that actually improves the quality of the forest, a major reversal of past practices. Rather than taking the best wood, the company's foresters mark and take out the low quality and mature trees. The result is a very high quality, healthy forest for the future.
Several of the lakes within the park are home to native brook trout and lake trout. Four lakes (Stocking Lake, Dutton, No Name Lake, Wildcat Lake) are known to be naturally reproducing Brook Trout lakes – a rarity.
There are also several bass fisheries within the forest. Among them Kelly and Johnson Lake are easily accessible, while Gadwall and especially Powderhorn pose a bit of a challenge to access.
The Wolf Centre opened in 1996 and is currently home to a pack of five Timber Wolves (Canis lupus). Within the 61,000-square-metre (656,600 sq ft) enclosure (one of the largest in the world), they roam freely, living as 'natural' a life as possible. Fed on a random schedule (approximately once a week), they can often be found hanging out near the viewing area. As this is close to both the highest point in the enclosure and the water source, they are often nearby.
In 1996, Patricia Wyman, a new employee at the facility, was killed by four of its wolves.
Conservation & forestry
The privately owned Haliburton Forest claims to strike a balance between short-term requirements of a successful, operational business and long-term needs of sustainable resource use and conservation. Over the past four decades, its 70,000 acres (280 km2) have been transformed from a depleted forestry holding to a thriving, multi-use operation which contributes economically and environmentally to the long-term stability of the surrounding rural community. By being economically successful, Haliburton Forest provides employment as well as environmental benefits to owners, staff and the public at large. Haliburton Forest was the first forest in Canada certified as a "sustainable forest" under the stringent guidelines of the international Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The certifying agency at that time was Boston, MD based Smartwood/Rainforest Alliance.
EcoLog Homes is a builder and supplier of log home kits. The logs they harvest come from the 70,000 acres (280 km2) privately owned Haliburton Forest & Wildlife Reserve Ltd. Specific quantities of mature hemlock come due for harvesting every season, some measuring up to thirty inches in diameter. Each tree is individually selected, carefully felled and skidded by horse before being transported to the nearby Haliburton Forest Mill. Using state of the art saws, each board is squared for timbers or sawn into boards for planking.
Canopy Tour -- A Walk in the Clouds
This experience includes: a guided van tour through the private lands of Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve Ltd., passing through forests and along lakes and streams; a 0.5 km walk along the scenic Pelaw River; a short, guided voyageur-canoe ride across a wilderness lake to the final destination—Canopy Boardwalk.
With 60,000 acres (240 km2) of forest wilderness, 50 lakes, and numerous ponds and creeks, Haliburton Forest is the only wholly privately owned snowmobiling operation in the world. The core of the 300-kilometre (190 mi) trail system is double tracked and up to 20 feet (6 m) wide. Scenic single tracked trails access some of the remote areas within the property. Half a dozen shelter cabins equipped with stoves and firewood line the trail system.
Introductory, half and full-day dogsledding tours are available at Haliburton Forest along groomed winter trails with over 130 Siberian Huskies. Professional guides provide introduction to the basics of dogsledding to ensure a safe and enjoyable dogsledding excursion.
Due to its location three hours north of the lights of the Golden Horseshoe, Haliburton Forest is part of the Algonquin Dome, offering truly dark, light free viewing of the skies. This location allows astronomers to observe individual stars, galaxies and deep sky objects not normally observed in light polluted locations.
The Observatory: Situated on a small rise near the entrance point into Haliburton Forest, the observatory offers an unobstructed view of the night skies. The plain, 1½ story observatory building suits the wilderness setting. Once the roof rolls off, it reveals its true identity as a home for telescopes and other astronomy equipment. The ground floor is set up for presentations.
The Telescopes: Two 10″ and one 12″ Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes are mounted to facilitate viewing of the skies. Self-tracking and equipped with computerised functions accessing a 64,000 object database, these state of the art systems make sky observations easy, pleasant and effective.
After fifty years of preparation, the new Haliburton Forest sawmill opened to the public in 2010.
An elevated platform overlooks the working mill, providing a view of an active sawmilling process.
The Forest Festival
The annual Forest Festival presents a mixture of the performing and visual arts within Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve.