The Bluff Trail Needs Your Help Raising Funds for Stewardship Program

The Woodens River Watershed Environmental Organization (WRWEO) and The Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail need your help to ensure that the Bluff Trail can continue as a favourite destination for naturalists and outdoor adventurers.

Please make a donation today.  

Donations can be made by a cheque written to: St. Margaret’s Bay Stewardship Association and mailed to WRWEO 3650 Hammonds Plains Road, Suite 14, Unit 300, Upper Tantallon, Nova Scotia B3Z 4R3 or online through the Canada Helps portal on the Heart of the Bay website (http://www.heartofthebay.ca/donate) – select: Bluff Trail as the fund you wish to support. Thank you!

The large volume of visitors to the Bluff Trail has resulted in a disturbing increase in the amount and degree of harmful human impacts on the trail, such as: increased garbage including toilet paper, illegal fire pits, cutting of live and dead trees, destruction of lichens and small plants, as well as the widening and braiding of trails.

WRWEO, with the support of Nova Scotia Environment, will collaborate with the St. Margaret’s Bay Stewardship Association to initiate The Bluff Trail Stewardship Program (BTSP). Under the direction of a Stewardship Coordinator, volunteer trail stewards will help trail users learn more about caring for and maintaining the trail and help improve their Leave No Trace (LNT) practices while on the trail.

The creation and management of The Bluff Trail Stewardship Program requires funding that is not available to WRWEO through our usual funding sources. This is why we are asking you to contribute. 

Here is a link for information on the BTSP.

 

 

Trail Build – 5 trail users address trail braiding and wet areas

We had some volunteers working on The Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail on Saturday Nov 12, 2016. We had 9 people sign up and 5 people show up but we managed to address seven areas where the trail was braiding and we also fixed 3 meters of wet area by hardening it with found stone. Thanks to our great volunteers (but we want to remind everyone that the Bluff Trail is maintained by all users).

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Click image to see Google Photos Album of the work – or click here.

Conservation Officers on The Bluff Trail

WRWEO encourages all trail users to say “hello” to the friendly Conservation Officers you may meet on the trail.

Since August, Conservation Officers from Nova Scotia Environment (NSE) have been making extra visits to the Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail to help ensure that we use the trail safely.

Remember: ONLY Leave No Trace (LNT) bowl fires and camp stoves (NOT traditional campfires) are permitted on the trail. Also, camping is generally discouraged and ONLY permitted at the designated LNT educational sites.

Williams Lake Backlands – Big decision by Regional Council on Sep. 20, 2016

Wms lakeHalifax council will be presenting a recommendation Sept 20 on whether to approve a proposal by the Nature Conservancy of Canada to acquire almost 400 acres of land in the Williams Lake backlands and set it aside indefinitely as a wilderness preserve.

Please visit the Urban Wilderness Park Website for more about the proposal and how to support it by writing to Mayor and Councillors.

We had VERY GOOD NEWS about Blue Mt/Birch Cove Lake. Let’s repeat it… make the Chebucto Peninsula a truly significant conservation area!

Tuesday, September 6th at 10AM at City Hall: BMBCL

Your help is needed to protect what could be the largest urban park in all of Canada. The long-promised but yet-to-be-delivered Blue Mountain Birch Cove Regional Park is under threat. It could be a mini-Keji for Halifax, but a terrible report from an independent facilitator, released in June, is recommending that a massive urban sprawl development be allowed inside the core of the future park. Immediately following the release of the flawed Independent Facilitator’s Report, Councillor Reg Rankin quickly put forward a very bad three-part motion for council to debate and a vote on. After several delays his motion comes up for the big vote at Council this Tuesday, Sept. 6th. Read more

NSE Approved Leave No Trace (LNT) Educational Camping Sites

On 21 August 2016, with the approval of Nova Scotia Environment (NSE), the Woodens River Watershed Environmental Organization (WRWEO) designated three sites on the Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail as “NSE Approved Leave No Trace (LNT) Educational Camping Sites” and posted the follow signs at each site:

NSE Approved LNT sign 20160821

One reason why these three sites are called “educational” is because they cannot be considered examples of “ideal” LNT camping sites. For example, by placing the signs to notify hikers of the designation we have already “left a trace” and undermined the very principles we are seeking to promote. Similarly, ideal LNT camp sites would not be located directly on an established hiking trail. However, all three of the NSE Approved LNT Educational Camping Sites are located along the Bluff trail. Two are found on the north leg of the Mi’kmaq Hill Loop (formerly the Indian Hill Loop) not far from Frederick Lake and the intersection with the Bluff Loop. The third is located on the cross section of the Bluff Loop. Moreover, even as these sites were selected as LNT Educational Sites, each was already marked with evidence of harmful human impacts which should not be apparent at any LNT camp site.

All three sites are located on flat rock surfaces. In that sense each offers an excellent example of a “durable surface” suitable to pitch a tent. However, lichen and mosses have already been crushed, killed, or scrapped off the rocks in these locations. Similarly, a number of spots on these rocks bear the signs of camp fires and some of the nearby trees have been limbed or cut to supply bows to sleep on or as fuel for fires. These are all signs of how NOT to practice LNT camping and serve as a very poor example of the ideal LNT camp site.

These sites are not areas which have suffered the worst examples of harmful human impacts from people camping on the Bluff Trail. There are at least two sites on the Mi’kmaq Hill Loop which bear considerably more damage from campers and campfires. Both of these sites have more than twenty trees cut down, they have trees that have been limbed and hacked, they have damage to the soil layers from poorly placed, poorly managed, and far too large campfires. These sites also bear the signs of fire damage to the tree canopy from these same campfires.

It is because of the damage being done in this protected wilderness area that WRWEO has undertaken to improve LNT practices among trail users. If there is not a noticeable reduction in the harmful human impacts on the trail it may be necessary to prohibit camping all together. WRWEO hopes that the users of the Bluff Trail will be inspired to take better care of the space that heals them and help ensure that people can continue to enjoy hiking and camping in this protected wilderness area.

The coordinates of the NSE Approved Leave No Trace (LNT) Educational Camping Sites are:

Latitude 44.64224 longitude -63.78316

Latitude 44.64116 longitude -63.78411

Latitude 44.63094 longitude -63.7953

Link to Map showing NSE Approved Educational LNT Campsites.

WRWEO continues to discourage camping on the Bluff; however, if you wish to camp anyway, PLEASE ensure that your are familiar with proper LNT principles and practices. If you have not recently trained in LNT practices visit the Leave No Trace Canada website.