Annapolis Valley Register

Voice in the wilderness

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“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 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 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.
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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