Nova Scotia

20 new sites to be protected, reaching Nova Scotia's land protection goal

Advocates applaud the move, say the government should strive to protect even more than 13% of its land

Posted: February 02, 2021

Chris Miller (left) and Walter Regan (right) at Lewis Lake in the Halifax Regional Municipality. (Contributed by Walter Regan)

Nova Scotia announced its intention Tuesday to protect 20 new sites, achieving the goal of protecting 13 per cent of its land — a milestone that environmental advocates applauded and urged the government to surpass.

One of the sites to be protected will form the Sackville River Wilderness area, the first of its kind in that area of the Halifax Regional Municipality. 

The news was three decades in the making for an elated Walter Regan, president of the Sackville Rivers Association.

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"I couldn't breathe for two minutes," he said. "And then after I started breathing, I started hooraying, hooraying, hooraying."

Regan said his organization and others have been lobbying for this protection since 2011, although he has personally been working to conserve the river for 32 years. 

"COVID has shown us the importance of inexpensive, easy, accessible wilderness and wild areas. Blue Mountain, Sandy Lake, Lewis Lake would become refuges — refuges of peace and quiet that people will go there with their families," he said. 

The Cherry Hill Beach Nature Reserve in Lunenburg County will protect publicly owned coastal land. (CPAWS-NS)

Regan said there are seven developments near the Sackville River and he calls it a "fight" to protect as much green space as possible. 

"We are becoming more and more of an urban civilization, and we need areas that we can call green and wild," he said. 

Chris Miller, executive director of the Nova Scotia chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, said his organization is very excited by the news. 

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"For a lot of these sites, we've been waiting a long time," he said, noting the Sackville River site is important for species such as the Atlantic salmon and wood turtles. 

Other sites include Cherry Hill Beach, which forms a publicly owned protected coastal area and is important for piping plovers, said Miller. The Barneys River site contains one of the only publicly owned old-growth forest areas left in Pictou County. 

The Wentworth Valley Wilderness Area in Cumberland County contains large areas of old trees. (Photographer: Irwin Barrett, contributed by CPAWS-NS)

The Eastern Shore islands site contains temperate rainforest while the Wentworth Valley site contains large areas of ecologically significant forest. 

"We've been waiting for a period of a couple of years for all of these sites to be officially announced," Miller said. 

In some cases, more land will be added to sites that are already protected. A public consultation process is required for those areas, which will happen over the course of 60 days online. The government said it will launch the consultation website soon. 

Decisions on formal protection will take place in the coming months, after the province gathers and assesses feedback from the consultation process. 

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"Although we are a small province, Nova Scotia continues to be a leader in land protection," Environment Minister Gordon Wilson said in a news release. "I'm very pleased to move these sites forward for protection."

Hawkin Hall Lake is in Beaver Bank, north of the Sackville River. (Photographer: Irwin Barrett, contributed by CPAWS-NS)

Miller urged Nova Scotians to have their say.

"This is the final, final step in a very lengthy process to protect these sites," Miller said. "It's really important that people who care about nature, people who like to spend time in the woods and in remote places, that they write in and they participate in this public consultation." 

Miller added that he encourages the province to be even more ambitious about land protection by matching the federal government's targets of 25 per cent of Canada by 2025 and 30 per cent by 2030. 

The Medway Lakes Wilderness Area in Annapolis County will be expanded under the new protections. (CPAWS-NS)

The sites to be protected include:

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shaina Luck
Reporter

Shaina Luck is a reporter with CBC Nova Scotia. She has worked with national network programs, the CBC's Atlantic Investigative Unit, and the University of King's College school of journalism. Email: shaina.luck@cbc.ca