'It's been devastating:' Kentville Ravine badly damaged by erosion, closed to public
Contents of an old dump at the agricultural research station spread sediment, debris
Town officials in Kentville, N.S., have indefinitely closed a beloved park because of extensive damage caused by recent weather.
The contents of an old dump spilled into Kentville Ravine last week, spreading sediment and debris across the ravine floor and washing out one of several bridges.
Tom Herman, a member of the Friends of Kentville Ravine, said heavy rainfall caused the slope of the ravine to erode, triggering the spill.
"It's been devastating," said Herman, who is a professor of biology at Acadia University.
"The ecological impact is unclear at this point, but a tremendous amount of sediment has washed into the ravine, and with it a lot of metal, glass and plastic debris."
Rachael Bedingfield, Kentville's director of parks and recreation, said the park remains a "very volatile environment" with unstable terrain, and she urged people to stay away.
She said there are barricades and signs up at trailheads leading into the ravine.
Bedingfield couldn't put a timeline on reopening, but she, like Herman, called the damage "devastating," and said the town is committed to fixing it.
"It's a beautiful space that we know the community is really, really passionate about so we want to continue to honour that," she said.
The dump at the western edge of the ravine was used by the Kentville Research and Development Centre — a federally owned agricultural research station. The ravine itself is also owned by the federal government, and is leased to the town, which manages it for public use.
Bedingfield said the two levels of government are working together to assess the damage and decide how to repair it.
Home to old-growth forest
Herman said the ravine is well used by people in the area year-round, but especially in the summer when hundreds visit each day to use the trails and a picnic area.
"It's incredibly depressing to see this beautiful stand of old-growth hemlock, which is a real treasure in this region, to see it degraded in such a way."
Herman said he's concerned the impact could be "quite long lasting."
With files from Blair Sanderson