Voice in the wilder­ness

Annapolis Valley Register - - NEWS -

“I’m def­i­nitely ques­tion­ing why they would put in a road al­ready,” said Ran­dall Fredericks who brought a clip­board and map. He points to the spot on a map. The yel­low in­di­cates the two pro­posed har­vest sites.

He’s also cu­ri­ous why a par­tial har­vest was done re­cently to the west side of that road on part of the north lot AP068637B.

“Typ­i­cally, when har­vests of any type are done on Crown land there’s con­sul­ta­tion with the pub­lic,” Fredericks said.

And then at the end of the road, par­cel AP068637D looks like it’s al­ready been har­vested. Fredericks and bi­ol­o­gist Donna Cross­land went back out to the site af­ter the Box­ing Day walk and went to the bot­tom of the south par­cel and she con­firms that lot has al­ready been har­vested de­spite lack of pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion.

Work looks like it was car­ried out in the past few months, and Cross­land isn’t ques­tion­ing the qual­ity of the har­vest­ing, which most agree was well done, but rather the pub­lic didn’t have a chance for in­put and the com­ment pe­riod is still open.

Uni­form Shel­ter­wood Those out on the Box­ing Day walk agreed the par­tial har­vest on the south end of par­cel AP068637B looked good, and if it was left as it is now it would flour­ish. But the fear is that the type of pro­posed cuts could see the chain­saws back in three to 10 years to take the rest. The pro­posed cut is called ‘uni­form shel­ter­wood.’ Much of the wood is har­vested and the re­main­ing trees are cut down once foresters are sat­is­fied new growth is well es­tab­lished.

Cross­land led the tour of the pro­posed parcels, point­ing out trees and habi­tat fea­tures that spoke of lots of wildlife.

“This is a late suc­ces­sional shade- tol­er­ant stand, mean­ing these trees grow in the shade of one an­other very well,” Cross­land said of the north par­cel. “It’s made up of the species that would have once dom­i­nated Nova Sco­tia’s forests his­tor­i­cally – the sugar maple, the yel­low birch, the red spruce, the Amer­i­can beech tree. Those were the dom­i­nant species we saw in there. Some red maple as well.”

Late suc­ces­sional means the for­est changes con­tin­u­ally as trees ma­ture and die, creat­ing habi­tats for dozens of wildlife species.

“There’s a lot of re­gen­er­a­tion on the for­est floor,” Cross­land said. “We’ve got mul­ti­ple age classes, and what’s as­ton­ish­ing is that some of it re­ally is old growth. Those are old growth stands. We have a lot of wildlife cav­ity trees – the beech trees and the yel­low birch. There’s food here for wildlife. We’ve got lots of signs of wildlife. It would be nice if we could do forestry but do it in a se­lec­tive har­vest way – sus­tain­able. Not take all of it. We need to have a canopy, a con­tin­u­ous canopy of trees while still do­ing for­est ac­tiv­ity.”

Gem of a For­est

“On our Box­ing Day walk­ing ex­plo­ration, in just a mat­ter of min­utes, I knew we were deal­ing with a real gem of for­est bio­di­ver­sity,” said Bev Wigney. “The range of tree species and age of trees, and the amount of mosses, lichens, and ferns tell me that that’s a su­per site. There must be all kinds of for­est plants, birds, in­sects, am­phib­ians, rep­tiles and mam­mals in that for­est.”

Wigney is a life­long nat­u­ral­ist and has a long history of ac­com­pa­ny­ing noted bi­ol­o­gists from the CMN, CWF, and OMNR, pho­tograph­ing spec­i­mens dur­ing field work over the past two decades.

“I know my stuff - be it her­petol­ogy, en­to­mol­ogy, botany, or what­ever,” she said. “In any case, I know a hawk from a hand­saw - so I know very well when I’m in a bio­di­ver­sity- rich place - and the north par­cel of Cor­bet­tDal­housie is just such a place. It should not be har­vested.”

She said if those parcels were any­where within a day’s driv­ing dis­tance of a city like Ot­tawa, sited as it is on Cor­bett Lake, it would have been turned into a con­ser­va­tion area or per­haps even a Pro­vin­cial Park long ago.

“It is at least as de­serv­ing as some of the other re­gional sites such as Mickey Hill Pocket Wilder­ness,” she said, “ac­tu­ally, it’s prob­a­bly even more de­serv­ing.”

“There’s a lot of larger, older growth trees,” said Skip­ton who helped Wigney mea­sure the larger trees. “There’s still a lot of wild an­i­mals out and about.”

The big­gest tree she and Bev Wigney got the tape around that day was more than eight feet in cir­cum­fer­ence. That’s 30 inches in di­am­e­ter at chest height.

For­got­ten Land Skip­ton calls the West Dal­housie/ Morse Road area the For­got­ten Land. “We’re out of sight, out of mind,” she said.

Skip­ton has been speak­ing out against clear cut­ting in the area for the past four years. Cuts have been con­tin­u­ing al­most non­stop and go­ing up the Morse Road from Bridgetown to West Dal­housie some of those cuts go right to the side of the road. The Har­vest Plan Map Viewer shows hun­dreds of hectares of crown land ap­proved for par­tial har­vest or clear cuts in the area since 2016.

She may fi­nally have some sup­port in voic­ing her con­cerns with like-minded Wigney, Fredericks, and Cross­land join­ing to­gether to ex­plore what’s hap­pen­ing and push­ing for less dam­ag­ing and more sus­tain­able forestry prac­tices.

“I think that we here in An­napo­lis County should get to work pro­tect­ing the north par­cel of ‘Old For­est’ and the sugar maple stand that is within it,” Wigney said. “I be­lieve we will see some ac­tion at the county level very soon. I hope we can work to­gether to sup­port some kind of con­ser­va­tion mea­sure for this par­cel.”

Fur­ther Ac­tion

Wigney said she and other con­cerned cit­i­zens are in­ves­ti­gat­ing fur­ther.

“A cou­ple of us have al­ready drafted and sent a let­ter of no­ti­fi­ca­tion to the Premier, Min­is­ter of Lands & Forests, and our lo­cal coun­cil­lors – (War­den) Tim­o­thy Habin­ski and Gre­gory Hem­ing, in­form­ing them of our find­ings and that they should ex­pect to hear about this in the me­dia in the very near fu­ture,” she said. “We have re­quested that they take ac­tion on this mat­ter.”

Habin­ski had hoped to con­vene a spe­cial meet­ing of coun­cil to dis­cuss the pro­posed crown land har­vests but the ear­li­est coun­cil can meet is Jan. 3. Habin­ski said he’s aware of the find­ings of Wigney, Skip­ton, and Fredericks, in­clud­ing the new road and the ap­par­ent har­vest­ing that has al­ready taken place.

The Spec­ta­tor has con­tacted the Depart­ment of Lands and Forestry with ques­tions per­tain­ing to the new road and the ap­par­ent har­vest­ing that has al­ready taken place. Staff were in the process of ob­tain­ing in­for­ma­tion but were un­able to pro­vide it be­fore press time.

LAWRENCE POW­ELL

There were 18 con­cerned res­i­dents from across An­napo­lis County at two parcels of crown for­est south of Bridgetown on Box­ing Day. They wanted to see first­hand what the two plots up for pos­si­ble har­vest looked like. To their sur­prise they found a new log­ging road al­ready in place.

LAWRENCE POW­ELL

Sue Skip­ton holds the tape on this giant black birch tree. It mea­sured 100 inches around, making it 30 inches in di­am­e­ter. It was one of many old growth trees in the north par­cel of crown for­est next to Cor­bett Lake in the pub­lic com­ment stage of a pro­posed har­vest process.

LAWRENCE POW­ELL

Ran­dall Fredericks points to a spot on the map where the new log­ging road is lo­cated. It runs north/south down the mid­dle of the penin­sula be­tween Cor­bett and Dal­housie lakes south of Bridgetown.

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