Flotilla 2013 brings conservation groups together

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The Nature Conservancy of Canada recently participated in the Friends of the Pugwash Estuary Flotilla on the Pugwash River.

PUGWASH – The Nature Conservancy of Canada recently joined a large group of Pugwash locals at the annual Friends of Pugwash Estuary Flotilla.

Friends of Pugwash Estuary is a local conservation group that works to help protect and enhance the Pugwash River environment. The group recently purchased an 8.4-acre property, including several buildings, on the estuary. Future plans include a launching area for canoes/kayaks, an interpretive trail highlighting its diverse flora, and a possible research/education center.

With common values, the Nature Conservancy of Canada has protected 417 hectares of land at the Pugwash Estuary over the past 10 years. The estuary is a prime staging and migration route for a variety of waterfowl and shorebirds with a unique blend of forests, salt marshes, beaches and islands. 

The flotilla, which began in 2005 with only a few participants, is now an annual tradition and a growing fundraiser for the local conservation group. The goal of the flotilla is to make more people aware of the estuary and to encourage them to learn more about it and to use it.

“When people use it they appreciate it more, and they get more involved and make sure things are protected and make sure we take care of it,” explained Friends of the Pugwash Estuary chairwoman Alice Power. “It brings everyone together to share experiences of the estuary; why their interested and why it’s important.”

The event started at the Conn’s Mills Bridge where participants were handed a map of the 13-kilometer route they would be taking to the finish line. Eager to begin, participants hopped (or tip-toed) into brightly coloured canoes and kayaks and took off down the river.

Nature Conservancy of Canada representatives included Nova Scotia Stewardship co-ordinator Doug van Hemessen, communications assistant Beth MacLellan, and dedicated NCC volunteers Les and Barb Macey.

The route, although challenging at points, offered a new perspective of the area.

“It was a really different way of experiencing the estuary,” explained van Hemessen. “I have been on NCC’s Pugwash Estuary properties several times for conservation volunteer events and field work, but it is very different to observe the land from the water rather than the other way around.”

“From the water, I found new beauty in the land,” added Barb Macey. “The gentle curvature of the shoreline was breathtaking and something I was never able to appreciate before.”

Upon completing the paddle, participants were greeted with a barbeque complete with refreshments and homemade salads and desserts that were brought in by participants. Home town pride drifted through the relaxed and friendly atmosphere as a group of local musicians kept everyone entertained into the evening.

“In all, it was a great day,” smiles NCC volunteer Les Macey, “the paddle was challenging, the food was delicious and the music was great.”

Despite some sore muscles following the event, NCC plans on attending the flotilla for years to come and hopes to collaborate with the Friends of the Pugwash Estuary on a variety of events and projects in the future.


Organizations: NCC

Geographic location: PUGWASH, Canada, Pugwash River

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