Conservation Halton seeking landowners for tree plantings on property

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It’s early dawn and Brad Bunkowsky is already up and ready for the early bird golfers at his family-owned golf course in Burlington. Burlington Springs Golf & Country Club is a family legacy. After Brad’s father acquired the two adjacent plots of farmland in the 1960s with a vision to build his own course, he passed on the land to his four children to continue the courses’ operations. Today, the course is thriving, in part because of Brad’s tree planting efforts.

In 2014, a plan was drafted that saw the planting of more than 25,000 trees across the course. There were twenty-six species planted in total. The most common are silver maple, red oak, and white birch. The plan accounted for Brad’s objectives by ensuring that the trees would enhance the course’s aesthetics without having the plant impede on the course’s ability to operate.

Four years later, in 2018, the trees have seen exceptional growth. Some of the trees are now over twenty feet tall. One of the factors in the growth of the trees is due to the excellent maintenance by the groundskeepers, which has resulted in 90 percent of the trees surviving. Forestry staff have also visited Burlington Springs for tending and pruning. Pruning helps trees grow quickly and maintain their form. Actively growing trees sequester high amounts of carbon.

In the long-term, Brad believes the trees will also help generate staffing efficiencies at the course. “Right now we have people tending the trees, but once they reach a certain height, we will just let them grow and become part of the rough,” he says. “This will cut down on the numerous hours spent cutting and maintaining the grass. It’s a win-win.”

After planting the course, Brad was also able to enroll in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program (MFTIP), a program that provides a tax break to qualified landowners. “Since planting, we have saved 19% on our taxes,” says Brad.

You do not need to own or operate a golf course to plant trees on your property, but you do need to have a minimum of 2.5 acres of open land within Conservation Halton’s watershed. Conservation Halton is looking for landowners for 2019. The knowledgeable, expert staff at Conservation Halton will conduct a free site visit to discuss your project objectives and create a planting plan that is well suited to your property. We will help you access and apply to the appropriate funding programs to reduce the cost of tree planting. Conservation Halton staff will also plant the trees, and come back for tending, and other follow-up. All materials need to be ordered by January 31st, 2019, so we encourage landowners to contact us as soon as possible. 

If you think your property qualifies for this program, and you would like immediate information, please email Conservation Halton Forestry at