Annapolis County wants the province to hand over a swath of Crown forest south of Bridgetown so the municipality can develop and manage a climate forest and demonstrate that a new economic model based on ecological forestry management can increase local jobs, community recreation, and tourism.
They passed the motion May 21 and have drafted a letter to Department of Lands and Forestry Minister Iain Rankin with the request. Currently WestFor has the option to harvest the forest in question and some of that work began last year.
The land in question is about 80 hectares, making up the small peninsula between Dalhousie and Corbett lakes a few kilometres off Morse Road that runs from Bridgetown south to West Dalhousie.
Naturalist Bev Wigney and other Annapolis County residents have been trying to prevent further cutting of the old growth forest that is becoming so rare in Nova Scotia it makes up less than one per cent of the province’s woodlands.
Wigney said municipalities should have the option to manage Crown forests.
“If a municipality wishes to do so, I think that option should exist,” she said. “It probably won't work everywhere, but if carefully planned, I think it could be beneficial and more in line with the needs of the community.”
See Also: ANNAPOLIS COUNTY RESIDENTS
See Also: GROUND-TRUTHING
See Also: WANTS ANSWERS
Wigney has been on that Crown forest several times, starting on Boxing Day when she led about 20 people to ground-truth the site and discovered a rich biodiversity she believes is worth saving. Recently she started an online petition called ‘Help stop the forest massacre at Corbett-Dalhousie Lake in Annapolis County, Nova Scotia.’
“The goal of the petition is to try to stop any further damage to the ‘old forest’ hardwood stand in the northwest quadrant of the peninsula,” Wigney said. “Part of it was harvested in autumn 2018, with more work to resume in spring 2019.”
She said Rankin is satisfied with how the first part of the work was done, but she isn’t.
After three weeks, the petition is up to 1,656 signatures.
“The majority of supporters are from Nova Scotia, with many from Annapolis County,” she said. “A good many of the supporters included comments. A week ago, I generated a file of all of the signatures, and another file containing 13 pages of comments and emailed the files to both the Premier, and Minister Iain Rankin.”
She said she has not received a response from either.
She also sent the files to Annapolis County's Forestry Advisory Committee.
“I believe the committee appreciated receiving the petition and comments as they provide some insight into how residents of this county feel about what's happening to the forests around us,” Wigney said. “It's abundantly clear that people are not happy about what's going on.”
Annapolis County Warden Timothy Habinski said May 22 the municipality just signed a letter to Rankin presenting the request to him and asking if he would suspend any forestry operations on that property until it had an opportunity to consider the county’s request.
“It’s important for me to frame it in such a way that we’re making it clear we’re not asking the province to choose between economic development and preservation of that area,” Habinski said. “We’re saying that we think there’s actually a better way, there’s a better economic model that could be applied there and we would like an opportunity to test that theory.”
Wigney said that before the Corbett Lake-Dalhousie Lake land underwent recent logging, it was something of an oasis amid a growing sea of clear-cutting on both Crown and private lands.
“Much of the forest has not seen human disturbance in many years,” she said. “The hardwood
stands of this forest are of the Acadian forest type consisting of shade tolerant species such as yellow birch, sugar maple, and beech. There are a number of very tall, old red spruce.”
Gregory Heming, Annapolis County councillor and head of its forestry committee helped draft the county’s Forestry Advisory Report 2018 that specifically outlined a climate forest pilot project meant to enhance carbon sequestration opportunities, reduce greenhouse gases, provide a wood supply and demand strategy for small-scale bio-gasification heating in municipal buildings, and local job creation in forest products.
Heming noted that in the county’s letter to Rankin council aligns itself with many of the findings expressed in Professor Bill Lahey’s An Independent Review of Forest Practices in Nova Scotia released in 2018 and fully endorses the mandate outlined by Lahey: “… to make recommendations on forest practices that would, if implemented, balance environmental, social, and economic objectives, which I haven’t interpreted to include values. My conclusion is that environmental, social, and economic values should be balance by using forest practices that give priority to protecting and enhancing ecosystems and biodiversity.”
Heming said the Dalhousie-Corbett lakes area has been of special recreational and tourism interest to the municipality since the 1996 creation of Canoe Annapolis County, a popular book now in its third edition.
The letter to Rankin notes that in March, 2013, at the time of the Bowater/Resolute land purchase by the province, council expressed its concern in “protecting the wilderness integrity” of this area to then minister Charlie Parker.
“As a way of protecting the ecological integrity of the county’s system of canoe routes through much of the Bowater/Resolute land, the municipality notified the minister (Parker) that ‘We would like to be assured that these areas will be protected and set aside for such use in the future,’” the letter to Rankin said.
Heming said the municipality would like to immediately engage the province in arriving at a strategic solution that would meet the goals set out in its municipal climate forest pilot project; stimulate local job creation through a measure approach leading to a municipal ecological forestry strategy; preserve and enhance the recreational and tourism opportunity in the Corbett Dalhousie Lake area; and meet or exceed the overall mandate and specific recommendations put forth in the Lahey Report.
“It is hereby recommended that the Municipality of the County of Annapolis respectfully request the Province of Nova Scotia to dedicate the Corbett-Dalhousie Lakes property to the Municipality of the County of Annapolis to develop and manage a climate forest and demonstrate a new economy based on ecological forestry management that will increase local jobs, community recreation and tourism.”
-- Passed on May 21 at Annapolis Royal