Sandy Lake Regional Park Study – November 9 2021 Halifax council motion

Please support Councillor Blackburn’s motion for a Sandy Lake Regional Park Boundary Extension Study (Agenda Item 15.5.1) being presented at this Tuesday’s Council meeting, Nov 9.

Here is the link to the council agenda and the motion of Councillor Blackburn: https://www.halifax.ca/city-hall/regional-council/november-9-2021-halifax-regional-council

There is very little time!!

Please contact your councillors to support this motion! And/Or send a quick letter to Council in support of the motion, you can send an email to clerks@halifax.ca and/or to the mayor mayor@halifax.ca. You can find your councillors contact information on the city website here: https://www.halifax.ca/city-hall/districts-councillors

The Woodens River Watershed Environmental Organization (WRWEO) is part of the coalition to protect Sandy Lake. We support the expansion of the Sandy Lake – Sackville River Regional Park (SL – SRRP) by an additional 1,800 acres as advocated by the SL – SRRP Coalition.

We oppose the efforts of developers to destroy the wilderness located in the unprotected lands in this area to accommodate a new housing project. That would be contrary to what is needed to fight climate change and protect biodiversity and also contrary to the conception of the Halifax Green Network Plan adopted by Regional Council in 2018.

There are two major reasons for our support of the proposed Sandy Lake-Sackville River Regional Park and to stop development in that area:

1. Population and outdoor recreation continue to grow in HRM, while greenspace declines. We have experienced greatly increased use of The Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail over the last 5 years and already we are at or over our capacity to accommodate this use. The Jack Lake lands within the proposed Sandy Lake-Sackville River Regional Park lie between major growth areas and have extensive informal trails currently. Many of them are old logging roads through magnificent forests and would require little modification and maintenance to accommodate much more use than they receive currently.

2. The lands west of Sandy Lake within the proposed SL-SRRP are part of an existing wildlife corridor important for connectivity between the lands of the Chebucto Peninsula and the greater mainland, as identified in a recent report (Appendix G in the submission from the SL-SRRP Coalition). The Halifax Green Network Plan highlighted the need to ensure such connectivity, although not this particular corridor apparently because parts of it south of Hammonds Plains Road are now committed to development (Halifax Bedford West).  Regardless, even if partially fragmented in that way, as the Green Network Plan says in section 4.1.3.1 “…maintain the largest possible remnant patches and encourage best management practices in intervening areas to provide opportunities for wildlife movement between patches.”  It is still worth retaining the lands west of Sandy Lake in their natural state as “stepping stones”. They might be considered analogous to the ferry system between Halifax and Dartmouth, not carrying as much as the bridges, but still vital for many people.

Thus for the sake of both wildlife and healthy outdoor recreation well into the future, it is urgent to incorporate measures that will protect the integrity of the lands of the proposed SL-SRRP in the Regional Plan.

 

Looking for volunteers for Sunday August 1, 2021

Are you interested in helping out on trail? Would you like to meet some board members and volunteers? We are planning an excursion to address trail markings at the junction of the Pot Lake and Mi’kmaw Hill Loops – many people get confused here and we are trying to make it clear with markers in buckets but folks have been kicking over our buckets so we are paddling some cement out there and filling the buckets with cement. You can join us on the hike out where we will pick up trash and fix some trail barriers on the way to the junction.

You will need to review and sign this waiver form.

Rules and procedures to follow for all WRWEO events.

Please let us know if you are interested in coming out – it will be on Sunday August 1, 2021 – exact time and place to be determined. Send us an email to: info@wrweo.ca

Trail work – danger – workers with clear cutting saws

Side of trail brush trimming is being done on the 4th (Hay Marsh) Loop this Summer (2021).
If you see a worker – maintain at least a 10 m distance between you and them. Use your whistle to get their attention. DO NOT APPROACH THEM UNTIL THEY KNOW YOU ARE THERE, AND SIGNAL THAT YOU MAY PASS. The saw is dangerous and has a very large cutting radius.

BLT rails to trails will be closed – May 13 – 14 2021 (no access to Bluff Trail head)

Please be advised that the B.L.T. Rails to Trails will be closed for trail maintenance from May 13 to May 14. This closure will only affect a portion of the trail, from KM7 (Bay Storage/Bluff Parking Lot) to KM 13 (Hubley). The trail will have heavy construction equipment and therefore for safety purposes the trail will be closed to all users. We ask all users to check www.blttrails.ca on a regular basis for more information. Please share with your networks and post on any social media pages.

We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience. Trail safety is a priority for the B.L.T. Rails to Trails.

WRWEO’s 2021 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING – Wednesday April 28, 2021 at 6:00 PM

The AGM will be held on April 28, 2021 via Zoom. The meeting starts at 6:00 pm and will conclude by 7:30 pm. 

This past year we have seen increased activity and harmful human impacts on The Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail. We need your help more than ever to protect and maintain the Bluff Trail and Five Bridge Lakes Wilderness Area.

We will elect this year’s Board of Directors, present the Chair’s report, review WRWEO’s financial statements and Mike Lancaster will provide highlights of the Bluff Trail Stewardship Program, which has now been going for four years.

Registration – online via our form on Website, or send your name, email, phone # and address to info@wrweo.ca.  We will email you the Zoom link in order to participate.

Membership costs $5, pay online – membership must be up-to-date in order to participate.

Link: 2021 WRWEO AGM Agenda

Link: 2020-07-07 WRWEO AGM 2020 Minutes 

Link: Bluff Trail Stewardship Program, Year In Review Report, 2020 

Link: WRWEO Chair’s report AGM 2021

Link: WRWEO Financial Statements 2020 

Sandy Lake – Halifax Park Survey – make sure you get to submit your opinions

From the Sandy Lake Coalition – There is still time to respond to this important survey that could protect wildlife corridors at the fragile pinch point between (& from beyond) Sandy Lake-Sackville River and the Chebucto Peninsula:

https://www.halifax.ca/recreation/parks-trails-gardens/park-planning-projects/bedford-west

It is important that citizens who live in Bedford West and those who do not live there respond to this survey by the March 5th deadline. This issue is bigger than just Bedford West resident’s park access.  Its primary problem is that it ignores the Halifax Green Network Plan (HGNP). There is no reference to HGNP wildlife corridors within this area, and clearly no plan as to how wildlife is to move from the BMBCL Wilderness Area to the Mainland or the Chebucto Peninsula. There are a number of opportunities to make comments in the survey, and one for general comments at the end. Ecological decisions and park decisions need to be closely connected, especially in this serious pinch point identified in the HGNP.

WRWEO also encourages you to advocate that all these areas have Leave No Trace principles applied to them and that the city seeks to implement a community stewardship program (like we have in the Bluff Trail Stewardship Program) to ensure ongoing sustainability and stewardship of the lands.

Coyote trapping signs on the Bluff Trail

We have received several questions about the posted notice that coyote snares have been set in the area surrounding The Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail. Here is a post that breaks down the legality of the matter and some things to consider.
We understand that this is a concern for some who use the trail. WRWEO feels strongly about stewardship, conservation and minimizing the human impacts in the Five Bridge Lakes Wilderness Area where the trail is located. The trail and the land around the trail is public land that has been designated as a Wilderness Protected Area. This designation is about prohibiting development. While this protected status is in part about conservation, hunting and trapping are still permitted.
The hunting rules and regulations are a provincial area of jurisdiction so you can reach out to NS Environment who enforce the rules in the Wilderness Protected Area and the Dept. of Lands and Forestry who make the rules about hunting and trapping.
To clarify, counter to what the sign states, it is not technically illegal to have your dog off-leash while on the Trail. However, WRWEO highly recommends that we all follow this practice in an effort to reduce the risk of injury to dogs, and users, while also helping to address the ecological impacts that dogs and humans alike have caused in the area surrounding the Trail by going beyond its bounds (off-trail). The Trail is now used by an estimated 35-40,000 people each and every year. This cumulative impact is very concerning to both WRWEO and Nova Scotia Environment. We can all work together to reduce our impacts by following Leave No Trace principles, which includes staying on the trail. WRWEO has prepared guidance for dog owners on how to use the trail safely: https://wrweo.ca/wp/the-bluff-trail/dogs/
You can get more information about hunting and trapping from the government website here: https://novascotia.ca/natr/hunt/
More information about the Bluff Trail and how to use the trail safely is available on our website: https://wrweo.ca/wp/the-bluff-trail/
As you may know, stewarding and maintaining the trail takes lots of resources. Please consider making a donation to WRWEO, becoming a member, or a steward of the trail. When you are on the trail please send us a report of what you saw and let us know of any issues or maintenance that needs to be undertaken, we have an Online Reporting Form on our website – https://wrweo.ca/…/the…/submit-trail-report-online/

2020 AGM – WRWEO – 25th Anniversary – July 7, 2020 via Zoom

You are invited to our 2020 annual general meeting. 

It will be held via Zoom on Tuesday July 7, 2020.  The meeting starts at 6:00pm and will conclude by 7:30pm. 

Registration – online via our form on Website,

or send your name, email, phone # and address to info@wrweo.ca 

Membership costs $5, pay online – membership must be up-to-date in order to participate

We will elect this year’s board of directors, present the Chair’s report, review WRWEO’s financial statements and Mike Lancaster will provide highlights of the Bluff Trail Stewardship Program which has now been going for three years. 

Register for the virtual 2020 AGM

2020 WRWEO AGM Agenda

2019-04-01 WRWEO AGM 2019 Minutes

Bluff Trail Stewardship Program, Year In Review Report, 2019

WRWEO Chair’s report AGM 2020

WRWEO Financial Statements 2019

 

Notice to Users of The Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail – Trail Open, parking lot is now open, users need to follow social distancing rules

Due to the ongoing concerns of the spread of COVID-19, and the provincial declaration of a State of Emergency, the Woodens River Watershed Environmental Organization (WRWEO) – the non-profit that created and manages The Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail – strongly discourages using the Trail at this time.
The Trail navigates through a provincially-designated Wilderness Protected Area and is not itself technically closed but the parking lot, which is owned by Halifax Regional Municipality, is. This means you cannot drive to the Trail and may be subject to hefty fines if you do, not to mention potentially causing great harm. As such, although it is still legally open for use from locals who arrive on foot, WRWEO strongly recommends that users stay off of the Trail for the time being in order to help limit the spread of COVID-19.
See the provincial information here: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/outdoor-activities/
See the HRM municipal closures here under Municpal Updates click on the “Parks & Recreation”: https://www.halifax.ca/fire-police/fire/emergency-management/corona-virus-disease-covid-19
Another issue that is faced with our Trail is the high prevalence of rescue calls that have occurred on the trails. If a user becomes lost or hurt on the Trail in the coming weeks Search and Rescue will need to respond during the COVID-19 outbreak; while the volunteers want to help the community the level of risk to volunteers responding has increased during these COVID-19 times.
Please call 311 if you see cars illegally parked along the side of the St. Margaret’s Bay Road near the Trail parking lot.
This is a difficult time but we will prevail, together. The Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail will continue to be one of the jewels of Nova Scotia’s trail systems and it will be there when we come out this ordeal, helping connect us with nature and helping us keep healthy of body and mind.