WEST-DALHOUSIE, N.S. - Some residents in Annapolis County are concerned about another planned forest harvest on Crown land, this time two large parcels near the Morse Road between Bridgetown and West Dalhousie.
Municipal council may call a special meeting over the holidays to talk about what’s happening up on the mountain. A local homeowner said the mountain is already being raped, roads are being ruined, and wildlife displaced.
“It’s certainly cause for concern,” said Annapolis County Warden Timothy Habinski, “and I think council as a whole will be concerned about this. It’s of sufficient importance. Normally we don’t have any meetings between Christmas and New Years, but I think we’re going to convene a special meeting of council directly after Christmas in order to address this and decide as a group what our response should be.”
The two parcels, AP068637B and AP068637D, are 21.48 and 18.88 hectares respectively and are located between two lakes just west of Morse Road. The comment period on the Department of Lands and Forestry Harvest Plans Map Viewer site is until Jan. 19. Go to https://nsgi.novascotia.ca/hpmv/.
“I think it’s imperative Annapolis County take an active roll in this and we will be jointly preparing some sort of correspondence to go to the province to state our position,” said Habinski.
“I've been referring to it as the Corbett-Dalhousie Lakes parcel,” said Bev Wigney, who with other concerned county residents is busy analysing the property.
She looked it up in ‘Canoe Annapolis County: A Paddler's Guide To Outdoor Adventure’ published by the county. It’s listed as Route 12 and is on page 89.
“The proposed harvest would remove much of the forest between the two lakes,” she said. “Based on some older NS Forest maps, it looks like the northern parcel is predominantly Sugar Maple 14.5 meters tall – probably taller by now. I have a maple of that size in my yard and it is a goodly sized tree. Should we be harvesting stands of Sugar Maple?”
She said the south parcel is predominantly Red Spruce.
“The next step is more research on the proposed harvest sites, which may well include some ground-truthing, depending on accessibility and weather,” she said. “There are plenty of people already doing some letter writing and ready to post submissions on the HPMV website. This tract is not going to go over well with area residents -- especially as more people get to know about it as it is close to Bridgetown, and a popular place for fishing, canoeing, ATV and other outdoor recreation.”
Randall Fredericks, who with Wigney and others helped change the province’s mind on a 20-hectare harvest on nearby Hardwood Hill, might be one of those people heading out to Dalhousie Lake over the holidays.
“We’re actually hoping to head out that way next week, pending weather and everyone being able to make it out,” he said Dec. 18 in an interview. He was trying to find out the road conditions to get into the sites. “There are a few concerned locals in the area as well.”
He said people are concerned about possible flooding issues as a result of the forest harvesting. “There’s been a lot of cutting on both private and Crown land in that area and Dalhousie in general.”
And he’s concerned about historic Bloody Creek at the bottom of the mountain, an historic site with many artifacts, and farm fields below that on the valley floor.
Dalhousie Lake was formed when Bloody Creek was dammed. And the county’s canoe routes book notes that within the Dalhousie Lake reservoir is possibly a meteor impact crater measuring about 400 metres across.
Wigney said rural people value public lands in ways that urban people may not understand.
“They have many outdoor venues - bicycle paths, public swimming pools, hockey arenas, tennis courts, dog parks, the trail system in HRM, etc...,” she said. “We don't actually have that many public outdoor places out here. It looks like there is, but a lot of it is private land. If we turn our few Crown land forests into torn-up, muddy, rutted messes covered in slash, that won't leave us with many outdoor places.”
She said that’s unfair to residents.
“And it's also very unfair to the wildlife. When a forest is destroyed, we lose it for at least two or three human generations,” she said. “Clear cutting of a forest is a serious matter and not something that should be decided by a handful of people in a short space of time.”
Surge of Interest
“I’m anticipating a significant surge of interest in the community around West Dalhousie and on Morse Road over this,” said Habinski. “I know they’ve reacted quite strongly over some of the clear cuts that have taken place on private property the last couple of years. That suddenly an extremely large Crown land cut is being planned, I know that will be of great concern to many of those people as well.”
Morse Road resident Bleu Rae said she never goes two days without logging trucks coming down the mountain past her property. It’s not uncommon to hear trucks using their air brakes at 3 or 4 a.m. Although it’s cutting on private land, she complained to the county and even the RCMP and Vehicle Compliance.
“They’ve not stopped cutting up there,” she said. “It’s everywhere. I don’t use the term lightly, but they rape the mountains – for nothing.”
She’s also concerned about the newly paved Morse Road that she says the trucks are destroying. And she said the Dalhousie Road going back to Highway 10 was fixed up and then was destroyed by trucks this past summer.
Wants It Stopped
As for the proposed Crown land harvest, she thinks it should be stopped.
“Personally I don’t think there should be any cutting without one-to-one replacement – proven, receipt-driven proof one-to-one replacement,” she said. “There should be no cutting without replanting. There’s been no replanting on the mountain that I’ve been told. None. And I’ve asked.”
Her worries, like Fredericks, are about erosion and flooding. She said the runoff would be filling the aquifer that her well draws water from. And she’s worried about destroyed habitat and the displacement of wildlife.
“And then the mountain,” she said. “The mountain’s being ruined. It’s just horrible and they act likes it’s fine. Like it’s nothing. ‘Like, you know, ‘we’ll deal with it later.’ And who’s it helping? It’s not helping anyone locally, I mean except for a few big wigs filling their pockets. But it’s not helping the community.”