2023 Bluff Trail Stewardship Program (BTSP) Report now available

Please find a link to our 2023 BTSP Report below, another banner year for the Stewardship Program and our Stewardship Coordinator, Mike Lancaster. Thank you Mike and all the trail users who have contributed to the program.
Some highlights:
Value of the program (both paid and in-kind) = $100,135.47
Over 3,000 Hours of BTSP Stewardship Presence on the trail and broader Wilderness Area
Only 13 illegal fire pits remediated – the lowest number in the program’s history (last year there were 23 illegal fire pits remediated)
Link:  BTSP Reports on our website: www.blufftrail.ca 
Link directly to the PDF report: 2023 BTSP Year in Review

Need contractors – boardwalk replacement

We are looking for work to be completed by Dec 2024. It involves removing all face boards and reusing as many as possible, they were replaced in Oct 2023. Removing all the posts and stringers and replacing them with new material – stringers can be pressure treated wood but posts cannot be – they will need to be hemlock or larch.

Check out this link for images and details about the boardwalk: https://wrweo.ca/wp/2023/11/04/boardwalk-repairs-completed-partial-replacement/ 

If you are interested and have good wilderness trail references please send an email to info@wrweo.ca and we will email you more details.

Boardwalk repairs completed – partial replacement

We completed the replacement of all the face boards on the boardwalk, some funding did not materialize, so we have to replace the boardwalk in 2 phases over 2 years.

Link to Google photo album with before and after pictures: https://photos.app.goo.gl/DBsTLgReYdkrnwXA8 

We will complete the replacement of the stringers and posts next year as long as we can pull the rest of the  funding together. It will costs about $80,000 to $90,000 dollars for the full replacement of the boardwalk. The first part cost about $30,000. We also replaced the shorter 3rd boardwalk for $7,000.00,

For your information here is a list of our boardwalks on the trail:
Boardwalks Coordinates Length (feet) Length (meters)
Boardwalk 1
30 9
Boardwalk 2
345 105
Boardwalk 3
48 15
Boardwalk 4
20 6
Boardwalk 5
30 9
Boardwalk 6
44°39’28.9″N 63°46’33.6″W
8 2
Boardwalk 7
9 3
We have estimated the location of the boardwalks (#2 and #3) in the following map based on GPS information we gathered on all our boardwalks and signage  https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=1ttFZA2sC8XHESEbZYwRF-jm1nV2d5Kc&usp=sharing

We have been approved for a $25,000 contribution from the Halifax Regional Municipality.

We have received emergency funding from CCTH of $20,000, WRWEO recognizes the support of the Province of Nova Scotia. We are pleased to work in partnership with the Department of Communities, Culture, Tourism and Heritage to develop and promote trails for all Nova Scotians.

We also received $10,000 from councillor Iona Stoddard – thank you very much Councillor Stoddard.

We have also raised over $13,000 from Trail Users and WRWEO members.

We are still about $22,000 ($90,000 – $68,000) short of the funds needed to get the work completed. Please donate or become a member of WRWEO: https://wrweo.ca/wp/about-wrweo/membershipsdonations/  

Work on trail Caution Oct 26 and 27


There will be a team working on the long boardwalk tomorrow, Oct. 26, and on Friday, Oct. 27. They will be replacing the face boards but not the underlying structure, so the trail will still be passable. Make sure that you ensure that your presence is known to the workers before passing.

As many of you know, we have had a hard time finding the funds necessary to replace the boardwalks on the trail. This work is quite costly and there aren’t too many contractors who are interested in doing it.

As only the face boards are being replaced this year, we will still have a lot to be done next year, replacing the underlying structure. We need your support for the trail that we all love so much. Please support The Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail by either:

– becoming a member of the Woodens River Watershed Environmental Organization by following this link:


– or by making a tax-deductible donation to the St. Margaret’s Stewardship Association, our partner organization and the facilitators of much of our work. Follow this link to make a donation:


HRM Regional Plan Review – WRWEO’s submission

The Woodens River Watershed Environmental Organization (WRWEO) offers five comments on the Regional Plan. 

1.     The Halifax Green Network Plan (HGNP) was formally approved in 2018, but it was not until 2023 that the Regional Municipality approved the appointment of a paid HGNP Coordinator to oversee the implementation of this plan. Regrettably, the HGNP Coordinator position remains vacant. We believe this fact reflects badly on the will of the municipality to make the HGNP an effective part of the Regional Plan. HaliFACT, comparable to HGNP, has a paid coordinator and a growing staff to support the position. What the Regional Plan says about the importance of HGNP is excellent. Nevertheless, without a coordinator to help in the implementation of its goals, words without action are only a reminder that the municipal government lacks the vision to reap the benefits of the HGNP for improving the mental and physical health of the citizens of HRM, reducing climate change, protecting biodiversity, and preserving the uniqueness of HRM as a place to live.

A case in point is how a HGNP coordinator could help realize the Community Based Wilderness Stewardship plan (CBWS) proposed in 2020 by Our HRM Alliance (62 community organizations in HRM).

Community-Based Wilderness Stewardship in HRM link:  https://www.halifax.ca/media/73989

In HRM there are at least 12 nature reserves, 36 provincial parks, 6 municipal parks, and other open space, comprising some 84% of HRM (as of 2015). Much of our open space is connected through trails. The Regional Plan (RP) notes that “trail systems have become the backbone of a system of interconnected open space” that provide enormous recreational opportunities (RP 2.7.1). We know only too well how quickly these immense natural assets can be lost to fire and other threats. One of the greatest threats is the impact of human use. The Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail, one of the most intensely used hiking trails in HRM, almost shut down six years ago because of damage from overuse. Instead, its caretakers created a highly successful volunteer stewardship program. Statistics on its success have been carefully collected for the last six years.

The Bluff Trail Stewardship Program link: https://wrweo.ca/wp/the-bluff-trail/the-bluff-trail-stewardship-program/

This program is the model for CBWS that was proposed to HRM through various avenues such as the Environment and Sustainability Standing Committee and the Active Transportation Advisory Committee. Though CBWS was favourably received, the need for a paid coordinator who could oversee the efforts of stewardship programs across areas relevant to HGNP did not fit with the current employment structure. It is worth noting that the problem could be solved if HRM appointed a coordinator for HGNP.

2.     Open space in HRM is sometimes owned by developers who have speculated that at some point there will be a demand to build housing in such space, even if it means cutting down forest, cutting off wildlife corridors, destroying endangered and rare species, draining wetlands, and depriving citizens of recreation. After all, they own the land and presumably have a right to develop it as they please, especially if they are providing housing that the public desires. The RP in recognizing the potential conflict with environmental values directs developers to “consider” any harmful environmental impacts. But the sad truth is that when there is a conflict of the kind just described, the RP has no teeth. All the developer must do is to “consider” the bad effects. There is no wording that requires the environmental values to be respected so that in a case of conflict development can be forbidden by law. Yet in these times of environmental crisis, development should be forbidden when there exist alternative areas of land that are not forested and do not entail the negative impacts set out above. If the RP does not have that kind of authority, then for all its good words, it is business as usual, and the environment loses. Given what we now know about the deadliness and the speed of climate change, future lives are sacrificed for profit margins when there are alternatives in which the developer can still make money and the environment is preserved.

3.     There is a housing crisis, and it is bound to get even worse if the provincial population grows as is predicted to two million by 2050. There is now a provincial Housing Task Force whose authority trumps the RP, as well as draft legislation being considered. For example, the Province is poised to develop on wilderness sites at Sandy Lake, despite decades of environment assessment and review that indicate that  such development will have all the dire environmental consequences listed above. HRM needs to make its wording stronger, to clearly put the environment and wilderness above development, to conform to its well-articulated concern for them. If it is overruled, then so be it. HRM has stood up for what most citizens in HRM want.

This applies especially to the Sandy Lake area and the Regional Plan should recognize the environmental importance of Sandy Lake and protect it as a unique wilderness area.

4.     We noted earlier that the RP tells us: “trails are the backbone” of the interconnected open spaces in HRM. But the trails that are discussed are mostly municipal trails. There are many trails in HRM that are entirely on provincial land or almost so, such as The Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail. These trails are supported by both levels of government, and the RP should be worded, however gently, to reflect this positive cooperation on which the overall interconnected trail system depends. We understand that HRM cannot tell the province what to do, but the existence of cooperation or coordination should be visible in the RP and celebrated. This point obviously relates to earlier point 2 regarding the need for volunteer stewardship, since a HGNP coordinator would be helping to create the means for volunteer stewardship in wilderness within HRM that is also on provincial land.

5.     Finally, we urge that the RP clearly acknowledge the importance of coastal protection for HRM lands. At present, laws pertaining to that protection are not in force and, to our knowledge, HRM has no legal power to change that. Nevertheless, as before, we believe that the RP should signal the importance of coastal protection in these times fast moving and dangerous climate change.


2022 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING – Sept 1, 2022 Estabrooks Community Hall 6 PM

The WRWEO AGM will be held on Thursday, September 1 at the Estabrooks Community Hall (4408 St Margarets Bay Rd). The meeting starts at 6:00 pm and will conclude by 7:30 pm. Masks will be mandatory and a virtual option for attendance will be sought, more details to follow.

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


AGM minutes 2021

2021 BTSP Year in Review

Co-Chair’s Report 

Financial Report 

This past year we have seen increased activity and harmful human impacts on The Bluff Trail. In particular, there has been a great increase in the number of illegal fire pits. We need your help more than ever to protect and maintain The Bluff Trail and Five Bridge Lakes Wilderness Area.

Our 2022 Summer Stewardship Technicians: Reilly, Chris, Ezra, and Lucas, are on the Trail sharing knowledge, spreading awareness, and remediating damages, like illegally-created fire pits. Much of their work is focused on the impacts that our cumulative use brings to the trail and they are sharing some strategies on how we can change our behaviours to avoid them. They’ll also provide trail users with ways that they can help the efforts to steward the Trail, as doing so is a huge job that needs all the help it can get.

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.

If you’re interested in helping direct the work on the trail or want to get involved with research on the trail or greater wilderness area please contact us at info@wrweo.ca.

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