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 of 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 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 where 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 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 soul 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 is 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

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.

Renaming Indian Hill Loop to Mi’kmaq Hill Loop

At a board of directors meeting on 9 February 2016 it was agreed that WRWEO would approach the Mi’kmaw Community to seek direction on the renaming of the second loop of The Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail. The loop was formerly called “Indian Hill” and directors at WRWEO believe that the term “Indian” is considered by many to be a derogatory, archaic, and offensive word. On 23 July 2016, the chair of WRWEO sent an email to Mike Lancaster, Wilderness Steward St. Margaret’s Bay Stewardship Association (SMBSA). The email read, in part:

“While the dedication of the Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail, written in 2005, acknowledged that the land had been preserved by the “First People”, none of the names used for the trail are Mi’kmaw names. In fact, the trail consists of four stacked loops which were all named more than a decade ago based on settler names used to describe the geography of the area. The names include: Pot Lake Loop, Indian Hill Loop, The Bluff Loop, and Hay Marsh Loop. The board of directors find the name of the second loop (Indian Hill) to be inappropriate given that the term “Indian” has long been considered a derogatory and offensive term. Because of this, WRWEO wishes to rename the second loop; however, we think it would be more appropriate to defer to members of the Mi’kmaw community for the selection of another name rather than continuing the pattern of settlers imposing names upon Mi’kmaw territory.

We hope that you may be able to introduce WRWEO to one or more members of the Mi’kmaw community who might be willing to advise WRWEO on how we might ask for the community’s guidance on the question of renaming the loop.”

Following receipt of this request, Mike Lancaster contacted two individuals of Mi’kmaq descent, Ellen Hunt, former chair of the Mi’kmaq Burial Ground Research and Restoration Association and regular collaborator with the Micou’s Island Stewardship program, and Roger Lewis, Curator of Ethnology at the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History. Roger Lewis in turn communicated with Mi’kmaq of Sipekne’katik (Shubenacadie) District, noting that the territory of K’jipuktuk (Halifax) is within the traditional territory of the Sipekne’katik District. He also communicated with Dr. Bernie Francis, Mi’kmaq Linguist and co-author of The Language of This Land, Mi’kma’ki.  The consensus was that the name should simply be changed from “Indian Hill” to “Mi’kmaq Hill”.

WRWEO has now renamed the second loop of The Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail the Mi’kmaq Hill Loop and will work to make the appropriate changes to all future maps and printed materials; however, this process will take some time. More immediately, WRWEO will undertake to update all electronic maps and will refer to the second loop as Mi’kmaq Hill in all social media posts and communications.

WRWEO would like to thank everyone who took time to consider this question and assist us in this matter. Particular thanks to Mike Lancaster, Ellen Hunt, Roger Lewis, Dr. Bernie Francis, and Mi’kmaq of Sipekne’katik District who gave their time and thought to this process.

TRAIL CLOSED – Wild Fire threat – August 9, 2016 to August 23, 2016

The Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail is closed from 9 August to 23 August due to a TRAVEL BAN

Due to extreme dry conditions and unusually high risk of forest fire,

Natural Resources Minister Lloyd Hines has announced a

Travel Ban in woods in Nova Scotia

For more information see: http://novascotia.ca/nsfire/

Reg Rankin’s controversial motion sidetracked, consideration of BMBCL on Sept. 6

In the scrum
In the scrum
Reg Rankin’s controversial Item 15 was moved up the agenda at the Regional Council meeting this afternoon. After a confusing set of discussions and motions about “Map 3A” (cited in item 15) and whether it should be released in camera, a motion was passed requesting that a full Continue reading “Reg Rankin’s controversial motion sidetracked, consideration of BMBCL on Sept. 6”

Reg Rankin makes untimely motion to amend the concept plan for BMBCL Regional Park

In a break from Reg’s long standing support for green initiatives in HRM, Five Bridge Lakes Wilderness Area, limiting the Otter Lake landfill etc., he has put forward a motion for next Tuesday’s Regional Council meeting that tacitly accepts the highly criticized Facilitator’s report on Blue Mt Birch Cove Lakes Regional Park, see Item 15. It also means, apparently, that the 1500+ letters written to Mayor and Councillors urging them to reject the Facilitator’s report topic will not be in the packages for councillors. Those who support the original concept of the Regional Park are urged to attend Regional Council at 1 pm on Tuesday when this item is likely to come up (See Agenda). See op-ed in the CH July 22 for a few of the many reasons why Reg’s motion would best be withdrawn and if not, soundly defeated.

Western Common Advisory Committee needs members

WCThe Western Commons is a large block of HRM land on the Chebucto Peninsula just east of the Five Bridge Lakes Wilderness Area. A Master Plan for the Western Commmons was approved in 2010, but follow-up has been slow. Now HRM is ready to move, and needs some new members on the advisory committee. See HRM Ad: http://www.halifax.ca/boardscom/documents/WesternCommon.pdf
Applications can be made through various venues, the easiest being email and online:
• clerks@halifax.ca
• Halifax.ca/forms/volunteer_application.php
Applications are being accepted until July 29th, 2016.
Thanks to Five Bridges Trust for bringing this to our attention.

12 ways to help the Bluff Trail

Calling on all trail users – 12 ways to help the Bluff Trail:

In the Reply Area at the bottom of this page Record & Report (R&R) or email info@wrweo.ca your:

  • activity,
  • date,
  • length of time, and
  • number of people who helped,
  • before- and after-photos

– Park perpendicular to the edge on the West side of the parking lot

– Collect garbage/litter in parking lot R&R

– Collect garbage2016-04-23marchand-bluff-clean/litter on trail  R&R

– Count other users on the trail  R&R

– Create a trail report during your hike: look for evidence of harmful human impacts, hazards on the trail, and/or areas in need of maintenance  R&R

– Remediate campfires: Cache rocks from a campfire in the bush near2016june25b trail to be used for trail hardening; disperse ashes and burnt wood, cover area with leaves and twigs to restore duff layer on top of damaged or disturbed soil  R&R


– Remediate damaged cam2016june25apsites: dismantle log furniture, cut and/or hide logs as far from site as possible, cover area with leaves and twigs to restore duff layer on top of damaged or disturbed soil  R&R

– Remediate Inukshuk & cairns: dismantle and cache rocks in the bush near trail to be used for trail hardening  R&R

– Remediate spurs: place deadfall, windfall, or rocks across the opening; possibly recommend need for “Stay On Trail” sign at the location R&R

– Help WRWEO create a complete sign & infrastructure inventory: document the location, size, messaging, and condition of signs along the trail. Document the location, length, width, and condition of boardwalks and stone hardened trail surfaces, Include photos  R&R

– Talk to trail users about Protected Wilderness Area rules and Leave No Trace (LNT) Practices R&Rbluff_talk2

– Become a member of WRWEO or make a donation on line at:www.wrweo.ca. Membership fees and donations support ongoing conservation efforts and membership increases our representation and credibility as an organization.

HRM: Are you ready for the Birch Cove Rangers?

Three-hundred plus citizens passionate about Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes (BMBCL) attended the public meeting about the planned BMBCL Regional Park this evening (June 30, 2016), which followed a highly criticized Facilitator’s Report. Two MLAs (Diana Whalen, Joachim Stroink) attended. There were only two HRM Councillors (Waye Mason & Jennifer Watts) present, but several candidates who will run in the fall election were there. EAC’s veteran BMBCL campaigner Raymond Plourde gave a history of the Regional Park and MC’d further presentations and discussions to repeated applause. Continue reading “HRM: Are you ready for the Birch Cove Rangers?”