Making the case for added protection

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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Cumberland Wilderness unveils proposed wilderness area

JOGGINS - Cumberland Wilderness has come up with a proposal for the Chignecto Game Sanctuary it feels will offer added protection over a larger area while maintaining access to the trail system for off-highway vehicle users.

"The draft proposal calls for the protection of what we call the 4Cs: core, corridor, coastal and community," society spokesperson, naturalist and author Harry Thurston said Monday during a presentation at the Joggins Fossil Centre. "The game sanctuary provides the core for the proposed new wilderness area. We are also calling for an important wildlife corridor to the north, toward the Chignecto Isthmus and a coastal area to the west, which includes the Bay of Fundy salt marsh at Sand River."

As well, he added, the society is committed to maintaining community connections through the sanctuary by supporting and protecting the major trail systems that already run through the 21,000-hectare property.

Cumberland Wilderness has been advocating for better protection for the Chignecto Game Sanctuary and surrounding Crown lands since the former Conservative government tried to de-list sanctuaries throughout the province in 2004. It contends the sanctuary includes unique landscape types and harbours several endangered and vulnerable species including the mainland moose, wood turtle and inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic salmon.

"The only true way to protect these special lands is under the Wilderness Areas Protection Act which will eliminate industrial uses such as forestry and mining," Thurston said. "It will fulfill the purpose for which the sanctuary was first provided, to safeguard wildlife by protecting their habitat. It will make these lands a true sanctuary, a safe haven for wildlife."

Society member Blake Daley said Cumberland Wilderness supports maintaining access to the sanctuary for off-highway vehicle users through the Joggins-Advocate highway and the Boar's Back Road as well as through the Goodwin Road and Thunder Hill Road.

The society's proposal, he said, supports maintaining 70 per cent of the current groomed trails in the sanctuary, something Daley feels is much higher than most people think.

He suggested the society's proposal is not an end point, but instead should open dialog with trail users, environmentalists, naturalists and government.

"We wanted to come forward with a balanced approach. To do this, there needs to be a wide consultation and we are but one voice," Daley said. "We do not presume to speak for all those groups, but are prepared to propose a specific area that's based on solid and recent science. We believe it is possible to blend the interests of people to do things like hunting, fishing and off-highway vehicle use. All of these interests can be blended into a working wilderness area."

The society's proposal, he said, would bring about added protection for wildlife while maintaining trail links between Maccan, River Hebert, Springhill, Joggins, Parrsboro and Advocate.

In October, the new NDP government announced its intention to establish a large wilderness area within Crown lands in and near the Chignecto Game Sanctuary. First, it plans to hold consultations with business, community and environmental stakeholders.

dcole@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Joggins Fossil Centre

Geographic location: JOGGINS, Bay of Fundy, Sand River Back Road Goodwin Road Thunder Hill Road River Hebert Parrsboro

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Recent comments

  • NIbs
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    My point was not to raise an argument with you Realistics but to answer two questions:

    One was where is the science and the other to offer the science that indicates for whatever reason the moose population is in decline and not surviving quite well.

  • Nibs
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    Realistic and Jive: Science suggests you are wrong. This is just one source to cite without much research. There is much similar data available.

    (And before you argue, Tony Nette is a DNR biologist, and contributing author to this body of work.

    This might be a good start:

    COMPLEXITY AND INFORMATION GAPS IN RECOVERY PLANNING FOR MOOSE (ALCES ALCES AMERICANA) IN NOVA SCOTIA, CANADA
    Karen Beazley1, Mark Ball2, Lisa Isaacman1, Scott McBurney3, Paul Wilson2, and Tony
    Nette4


    While moose are, to an extent, able to adapt to and tolerate disturbances caused by human activities that are predictable and nonthreatening (Geist 1971, Shank 1979, Westworth et al. 1989), backcountry recreational pursuits in the form of hiking, mountain biking, angling, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, off-highway-vehicle use, and snowmobiling are not highly predictable either spatially or temporally (Shank 1979, Ferguson and Keith 1982, Rudd and Irwin 1985).

    CONCLUSION: It is apparent that the number of moose in mainland Nova Scotia is in decline and that it may be as a consequence of one or all of several direct and indirect factors related to habitat suitability and effectiveness, human access and disturbance, population demographics
    and viability, genetics, health, and climate change.

  • Lisa
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    From the information that was delivered yesterday I believe the roads and a buffer zone beside the roads will not be included in the Wilderness Protection area. However, the lands on either side after the buffer zone (unknown how large this zone is) will be part of the protected area.

    I think I have that right. So in essence, when you are on either of these two hightways you will not be in the Wilderness Protected area but travelling through on a Provincial Highway as you mentioned.

  • David
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    This sounds like a reasonable proposal from the local wilderness group. I saw what the DNR suggested - mostly just protecting scrub land in little bits and peices. What a joke.

    We need to protect the mooses habitat, and like it or not moose and machines don't mix. The Conservatives aren't in power anymore so it means the All-Terrain Drivers will have to compromise, which is what we all have to do in life anyway to get along.

    I can't wait to go fishing in the new Wilderness Area!

  • Randy
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    I agree with Larry. There is absolutely no reason to change anything with how the Sanctuary is operated right now. I don't believe we need anymore protected areas in cumberland county that limit use to recreational vehicles. In the last 3 years I have yet to see 1 person walking, bicycling or hiking in these areas. Frankly they don't get used. So why protect them if they can't be enjoyed. Also I have not seen anyone of these nature clubs helping with trail maintenance. They want the best of both worlds. Maybe anyone belonging to these clubs and the people pushing for Wilderness Areas Protection should foot the entire bill for all trail systems.

  • Realistic
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Yes, the wildlife habitat is surviving quite well now - hence the active bow hunt and moose population. And everyone who wants to enjoy the area now as they are able to get to it, can. Mr. Thurston even stated on BT this morning that there is no longer clear cutting going on there (not that there was much in the first place). The government needs to re-read and re-digest the Environmental Goals Act that is driving all this, it is all about balancing the environment with the economy. There is not much of that balance here, and they are going to have even greater difficulty meeting that balance in other areas of NS as they get closer to the 12%.

  • Jive
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    What solid and recent science is Mr. Daley referring to? So far, Cumberland Wilderness has done nothing to prove to that the current system of OHV trails in the sanctuary are threatening the wildlife habitat there. The obvious solution here is to protect the sanctuary from industrial raping (which most everyone seems to agree on), but leave its OHV users alone. If new legislation is required, then make it happen. That's what these people are elected to do.

  • Devin
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    I applaud the efforts of Cumberland Wilderness and am pleased to see the balance between conservation and recreational use in the plan. -An intelligent proposal. Well done.

  • Chillwill
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    I am surprised with the comments about the moose population. People are quoting researches and other stats. Do you realize where you are talking about ? br The moose population in this area had thrived for years. From the west side of the Trans Canada straight through to Apple River they were abundent. Nobody needed to have researchers come in and give a wrong opinion. THEY WERE SLAUTERED PERIOD. People were shooting them left and right just to say they shot a moose. It has only died down in the last 3 years since the idiots down the river way were charged and did it again. The enviroment is fine, ohv's are fine, but the ones that have not been caught are the big problem. It's kind of like the worst of the worst are going to be the only ones to benefit from the WPA. Less traffic, more chances. Again, it is not OHV's.

  • Randy
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Making an area into a wilderness area certainly does limit its use. Look at the economy wilderness area.

  • Morris
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    We need a protected Wilderness area in Cumberland County. To have protected land automatically means a minimum of human activity. I fully support Cumberland Wilderness and it's efforts to have Cumberland County included in the protection of Wilderness in our Province.

  • Larry
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    The Joggins to Advocate Highway and Boars Back Roads are provincial highways and couldn't be shut down by a wilderness area anyway and are not available to OHV traffic so what are they talking about there. Just trying to buffalo some more people?

  • Realistic
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    I'm not sure exactly what you are saying I was wrong about. Is there not an active moose population in the Sanctuary? That was all I said about moose above. And I'm also not sure why you would think I would argue who Tony Nette is - he is also the chair of the team that put the DNR Recovery Plan For Moose together in 2007. From the Recovery Plan, and also the article you mention above, it is estimated the Cobequid region, of which the Sanctuary is part of, contains half of the total mainland moose population of the province. So it seems they are existing under the current DNR management and use of the area. Perhaps the 70+ year history of the Sanctuary roads and their use has made the human activities there predictable and non-threatening as alluded to above? The Recovery Plan also states that forestry practices are a valuable tool in recovery efforts, creating a disturbance much like fire and insect damage that has long-term benefits to moose that do well in young regenerating forests. WP designation on the wide scale proposed by CW would take all such management practices away - taking management away from an area that large is my main point of disagreement with the proposal.

  • Robert from Nova Scotia
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    I have cross country skied hiked and canoed in the sanctuary and been on an ATV there as well.Changing to a wilderness area does not stop these activities or hunting or fishing,it prohibets industrial uses such as mineing and clear cutting.

  • Terry
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    I too agree with Larry, Boars Back Road and Joggins to Advocate Highway are just that Provincial Roads & Highways. They can not be used by any OHV. Robert, You are not entirely correct in saying that Changing to a wilderness area does not stop these activities It will, you will no longer be able to Enjoy the use of the existing trials and Sanctuary Roads on your ATV. I do not believe that one will carry a canoe the many miles it will take you to get to Walton Lake. FACT: we are losing far more than 30% of existing Groomed trails in the Sanctuary. There are 16 Numbered Snowmobile Trails in the Chignecto Game Sanctuary, which over 90% are existing Sanctuary Roads consisting of more than 135km of Trail. Cutting off all access except the for Goodwin Road and Thunderhill Road will close MORE than 60% of existing trails. I believe, Most if not all Snowmobile members are not 100% against a wilderness protected area. Out of the 21000 Hectors of Property, we are Only looking for our existing 45 hectors or so to remain for all to enjoy and keep out of the Wilderness Protested Area. Over the past several years many of the snowmobile Trails have been changed to multi use trails and are open to ATV in the off season, Hikers, Bikers and Cross Country Skiers. We at Cheignecto Glooscap have put over $15000.00 in trail maintance last year alone to keep trail to a level that helps protects the environment and keeps OHVs to designated trail and out of Brooks & Steams.

  • Andrew
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Save the trails!!

    Wilderness protection in general is a good idea. Responsible use of existing trails by OHV users is another way for the public to enjoy the outdoors and support a recreational lifestyle. There is no legitimate reason for one to be at the expense of the other. Promoting and enhancing the trail system would in itself be promotion and positive exposure for the area to those who enjoy the outdoors.

  • randy
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    I am sick and tired of this so called Cumberland Wilderness assn. Absolutely useless!!! Get off your high horses and start looking around at the pure rape of our forests in our county. You should be ashamed of the way you practice. Clear cutting should have been banned long ago, but I never see anything in the papers about your assn. confronting the major players (ie. IRVING ) Every time you people try to list an area they come in and destroy everything around it. Maybe it's a way to get back at you. Also, there is nothing wrong with exploratory drilling so long as it is done properly. Most of Cumberland has already been done so lets figure out what potential there is here in a dying county. In my opinion, you have no right to even try to attempt to make the Sanctuary part of your business. This was built, maintained and enforced by taxpayers since day one. ( My hat is off to all that have worked there over the last 70+ years. It really is Sanctuary. To deny the people who use it most is vulgar.) Anyone who wants to argue about use of WPA's had better call the local DNR office before they comment. Try dragging a conoe to British Lake !!! What was done with Economy WPA was useless. Now, most people cannot enjoy this priceless jem. In my opinion we should be upgrading trails so people will not disturb the local ecosystems. It's a very simple act for you WPA's to pull your heads out of your dreamlands(Trust me I wanted to use another word) and work along with people who really use these areas. I think you would be surprised with how many are already committed to the upkeep of the environment. Also, this whole invited guest only thing was a huge mistke. All you have done is alienate 3 to 4 generations of pure naturalists. So get up, shake it off and start lookin' at the big picture. Best of luck, but you will be fought to the end. Rally up guys.