Nothing quite compares to the hauntingly beautiful cry of the Common Loon. Their distinct wails and tremolos are symbols of the wild north, evoking thoughts of tree-lined lakes and rugged, untouched shorelines. Their presence in the remote wilderness is not surprising – after all, loons require undisturbed locations to build their nests and raise their young.
Given the size of Lake Bellaire, it is likely that at least six pairs of loons once shared the lake’s habitat before the intrusion of docks, boat traffic, and other shoreline development. By the 1990s, only one pair of loons was documented in the entire lake.
Thanks to decades-long conservation efforts by a collection of organizations and volunteers, loons can now find haven in Lake Bellaire’s north arm. GTRLC’s role in this effort was to protect the land. The Conservancy initially protected two parcels in this quiet corner of the lake, the Golden Days Loon Nature Sanctuary (protected in 1998 and expanded in 2020) and the nearby Loon Nursery Natural Area (preserved in 2001). Over time, GTRLC has also worked with private landowners to protect hundreds of acres of land and thousands of feet of undisturbed shoreline through conservation easements.
Today, Lake Bellaire is home to four pairs of nesting loons – near its carrying capacity for this territorial species.
After years of patiently waiting for such an opportunity, a proposed 28-acre parcel will connect the Golden Days Loon Nature Sanctuary to a large swath of privately protected land, creating a contiguous 350-acre tract of high-quality habitat including nearly 1.75 miles of shoreline. This would bring overall protection totals on Lake Bellaire’s north arm to nearly 200 acres with 2 miles shoreline.
The proposed addition includes over 13 acres of undeveloped wetlands and 650 feet of shoreline that provide critical habitat for waterfowl species and nesting loons, and serve an important role in filtering runoff and protecting water quality in Lake Bellaire. Managed as a nature sanctuary, the property will be left wild and undisturbed forever.
For us to live in harmony with this beloved denizen of the north – and do our part to protect it – this opportunity is not-to-be-missed. Properties on Lake Bellaire are in high demand and becoming increasingly rare, with much of the waterfront already developed. If not protected, residential homes would almost certainly replace the proposed addition’s wetlands, fragment its wildlife habitat, and disturb the shoreline that is so critical for Lake Bellaire’s loons.