By Jaime Bayers
On Tuesday, July 25th, the Nature Conservancy of Canada announced the addition of 166 acres to its protected lands along the Musquodoboit River. The Conservancy acquired this land thanks to a donation from the descendants of Basil and Sarah Bayers. With this new acquisition, the Conservancy now protects a total of 528 acres of wetlands, forests, rare trees, and at-risk species along the Musquodoboit River.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada is a non-profit organization dedicated to land conservation. Since its founding in 1962, the organization and its partners have conserved more than 2.8 million acres across Canada, including 73,000 acres in the Atlantic provinces. The Conservancy encourages the use of the resources on its conservation holdings, keeping the spaces open for hunting, fishing, hiking, and canoeing.
Within the new area are a wide diversity of species, including several federally listed species at risk: wood turtle, snapping turtle, Canada warbler, chimney swift, common nighthawk, rusty blackbird and olive-sided flycatcher. The Musquodoboit River has one of the best remaining runs of Atlantic salmon on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore, and provides habitat for sea-run brook trout. There is also a red oak and black cherry floodplain forest along the Musquodoboit River, an uncommon forest in Nova Scotia.
All three levels of government have been participating in the Conservancy’s Musquodoboit conservation efforts. Attending this week’s announcement were HRM Councillor David Hendsbee, MLA Kevin Murphy, and MP Sean Fraser. Fraser said that the federal government had contributed $90,000. He pointed out that the federal government had spent $110,000 last year on conservation projects along the river.
The federal funds came from the Natural Areas Conservation Program, which was established to accelerate the rate of private land conservation in Canada. Additional funds came from The Nova Scotia Crown Share Land Legacy Trust, the Nova Scotia Habitat Conservation Fund, Halifax Regional Municipality, and many private donors.
Craig Smith, the Nature Conservancy’s program director for Nova Scotia, pointed out that the organization’s strategy included not only protecting habitat for species at risk, but also providing corridors for wildlife to connect with the nearby White Lakes Wilderness Area. The Musquodoboit Trailway provides easy access to the Conservancy’s Musquodoboit lands.
[Editor’s note: The author of this piece is a member of the Bayers family that made this land donation.]