In 2002, the Township of Scugog established the Test Hill Task Force to develop a long-term strategy to address illegal activity taking place in the southeastern area of the township, near the headwaters of the East Cross Creek. The Test Hill Task Force was later renamed the East Cross Forest Task Force to recognize the natural heritage values of the area.
In 2005, Kawartha Conservation was given the lead role and agreed to hold title to future properties and manage them as a conservation area. The Task Force assumed the role of an advisory committee to provide input into the management plan.
In 2006, Mr. Erast Huculak donated 552 acres of property, with the assistance of the Nature Conservancy of Canada. A security group was contracted to patrol the property and enforce the Trespass to Property Act. The security group continues to patrol the area, to ensure the safety of visitors and prevent illegal activity.
In 2007, we received a donation of 24.5 acres containing wetland, forest and savannah from a private land owner through Environment Canada's Ecological Gifts Program. We also purchased an additional 255 acres within the area of interest. Then in 2009, we acquired 302 acres through partial donations.
We began community cleanups in 2007. More than 75 volunteers collected over 60 cubic yards of garbage, in addition to a number of abandoned cars and hazardous wastes. The next year, over 100 volunteers collected 120 cubic yards of garbage, 3 drums of hazardous wastes, and pulled out 100 tires, 3 old cars and 4 tonnes of scrap metal.
In May 2009, we finalized a management plan for a multi-use conservation area. It identifies priorities for restoration, development and security. These priorities were set as a result of three years of natural heritage field work, property boundary inventories, and consultation with local police, fire, emergency services and the surrounding community.
Durham East Cross Forest Conservation Area was officially opened to the public on June 25, 2009.