Today, we are sharing in-depth excerpts from the Report on the Ecological Importance of Owls Head Crown land. Dr. Jeremy Lundholm, PhD, and Caitlin Porter, MSc, voluntarily provided this information to the court and have subsequently given us permission to share it online. You can find their unabridged report at the bottom of this page. If you’d prefer, you can read the post of their conclusions instead.
Owls Head is a coastal headland on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia/Mi’kmaqi. A portion of the headland (268 hectares/ 662 acres) is provincial Crown Land and has been managed as a provincial park since the 1970s. Though Owls Head Provincial Park was never legally designated as a protected area, it has been proposed for designation in the Nova Scotia’s 2013 Parks and Protected Areas Plan (site #694).
Because of investigative reporting and freedom of information requests, we all learned of the backdoor deal to sell Owls Head Provincial Park to a private developer, for conversion into golf courses. The secret actions of the Department of Lands and Forestry staff, past and current Ministers, and Cabinet to dispose of a rare ecosystem home to a number of endangered species without public consultation are deplorable.
We of the Nova Scotia Wild Flora Society are writing to express our concern with the delisting of Owls Head Provincial Park Reserve and proposed golf course development on these public lands. The Nova Scotia Wild Flora Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to the appreciation and conservation of wild flora and habitat in Nova Scotia.
Caitlin Porter, MSc, Research Associate Jeremy Lundholm, PhD, Professor & Department Chair Ecology of Plants in Communities Lab Biology Department Saint Mary’s University
To the Honourable Labi Kousoulis,
We are biologists and environmental scientists writing to express our concern with the potential development of the proposed Owls Head Provincial Park Reserve.
Over the past 15 years, the Ecology of Plants in Communities lab at Saint Mary’s University has worked with collaborating NGO and NS provincial government partners to describe and classify heathland ecosystems across Nova Scotia. We have included the proposed Owls Head Provincial Park Reserve in our field surveys. Our years of data reveal that Owls Head is ecologically unique and of importance to biodiversity conservation.
When the officials involved lie and try to sanitize online information, then you can rest assured that all is not above board. When discussions are moved to phone calls and plans are heavily redacted, again the alarm bells start ringing. Those in my profession are called “stewards of the land” and that really is what I am trying to be, to do. We must all be the voice of this land. I also know from the many years I worked with DNR (now Lands & Forestry) how difficult it is to acquire public coastal lands, and how precious the few that we have truly are.
Every property that made it onto the list of Parks and Protected Areas Plan had a reason to be there. Each had a history. Owl’s Head Provincial Park was property #694 until an arrogant, duplicitous Minister and Cabinet removed it. Now the government is trying to erase Owls Head from the public record. The initial CBC article by Michael Gorman, published on December 18, points to a backroom deal fabricated by lobbyists and political dinosaurs who think that anything is for sale. A secret deal, a Letter of Offer to sell 661 acres of public coastal land to a private developer. At this time, two Ministers have made misleading public statements in attempts to cover the smell of a deal that would not stand the light of public scrutiny or professional review.
Pristine coastal barrens, rare plants, endangered species, water frontage on 5 coves and a lake, sand beaches, ideal coves and inlets for coastal kayaking, did I mention publicly owned? Continue reading “Now vs Then”