Nova Scotia may allow clear cutting near Scout Island camp

Scouts Canada says it has "concerns" about a large clear cut proposed for Crown land bordering a camp used used for generations in the St. Margaret's Bay area outside Halifax.

Clear cutting 350 hectares of former Bowater Mersey land will make an 'ugly eye sore,' scouts say

Scouts have been using the property for around 50 years. (CBC)

Scouts Canada says it has "concerns" about a large clear cut proposed for Crown land bordering a camp used for generations in the St. Margaret's Bay area outside Halifax.

"It's mostly aesthetics," said Jeff Parks, a deputy commissioner with Scouts Canada Nova Scotia Council.

"To have an ugly eye sore in there is not what anyone wants."

The proposed harvest of 350 hectares on former Bowater Mersey lands is made up of 20 separate parcels. 

The plan is being endorsed by the forest industry and attacked by environmentalists. 

View 'about to change'

Parcel 720, as it has been designated, faces Scout Island, a hilly island used as a camp by scouts for half a century. The land is owned by Nova Scotia Power and leased to the youth organization.

Scouts have a reason to be concerned, the Ecology Action Centre's Matt Miller said Thursday.

"When they look to the west at sunset, that view is about to change," he said.

"There is a fairly significant area of clear cut right down to the lake's edge, a stones throw from where those kids camp."

Scouts in Nova Scotia lease the land from Nova Scotia Power. (CBC)

Public commenting open

The harvest plan was released on Feb. 22 by the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources.

The proposal would permit clear cutting in 18 of the 20 sites on the Halifax side of the St Margaret's district. The public commenting period ends Mar. 12 and anyone with thoughts on the proposed harvest plans can email ForestryMaps@novascotia.ca.

Local scout groups in the St. Margaret's Bay area have commented on the clear cutting plans, Parks said.

"We don't want it on other blocks. I've been told DNR is aware and addressing the concerns of Scouting in the area," he said.

The proposed harvest of 350 hectares on former Bowater Mersey lands in the St. Margaret's Bay area, very close to Scout Island. (CBC)

Watchdog group unhappy 

The "mature forested stands" are used frequently by many local people, as well as the scout troops, Mike Lancaster of the St. Margarets Bay Stewardship Association said in an email to CBC News.

"If these proposed clear cuts move ahead, they will drastically alter the natural ecology of the area through siltation of water ways, soil erosion, wildlife habitat destruction, as well as the loss of the corridor effect that the land currently occupies, further fragmenting the remaining forests," Lancaster said.

The "mature forested stands" are frequented by many people in the area, the St. Margaret's Bay Stewardship Association said. (CBC)

'Science, not emotion'

A consortium of saw mills called West For has been promised cutting rights on more than 500,000 hectares of Crown lands in western Nova Scotia. One of those companies, Ledwidge Lumber of Enfield, said the parcels proposed Feb. 22 are part of the West For allocation.

Cassie Turple, who is with Ledgwidge Lumber, said Crown land in Nova Scotia has some of the most stringent policies in place anywhere in Canada.

"Forest management decisions are made by professionals and based on science, not emotion," Turple said in an email to CBC News.

"The area in question is classified as a forest resource and should be treated as such."

Forest will be clear cut up to the lake's edge, not far from where kids camp. (CBC)

'We are cognizant of our neighbours'

Nova Scotia's Minister of Natural Resources said government is reviewing public input — and that clear cutting or partial harvesting will be allowed where appropriate.

Beyond that, Minister Lloyd Hines had few specifics.  

"We are very cognizant of our neighbours, and we are very pleased to have great neighbours in the boy scouts there," Hiens told CBC News.

"We're working with them. We are looking at ways to involve them in what we are doing, and when you're in the neighbourhood, you have to be conscious of your neighbours."

Natural Resources Minister Lloyd Hines said he's looking at ways to involve the scouts. (CBC)

Clear cuts near quarry land 

The harvest plan is also near two parcels of Crown land given to Scotian Materials by the McNeil government in a land swap with the company in February.

Scotian Materials has proposed an asphalt plant in the Tantallon area.

About the Author

Paul Withers

Reporter

Paul Withers is an award-winning journalist whose career started in the 1970s as a cartoonist. He has been covering Nova Scotia politics for more than 20 years.

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