Why is Owls Head Provincial Park Worth Saving?

Owls Head Provincial Park is a biodiverse property with undisturbed coastal heathlands, salt marshes and bogs, a freshwater lake, estuaries, and over 5 miles of coastline. It is bordered by offshore eelgrass beds and is home to several species of conservation concern. Click on any of the icons to learn more.

Globally Rare Ecosystem

Owls Head Provincial Park has a globally rare plant ecosystem!

Biologists who've studied the broom crowberry ecosystem caution, "If our province does not make an effort to protect this species, there will be no other opportunity elsewhere to protect it.”

High Biodiversity

Coastal heathlands add diversity to the mostly forested landscape of Nova Scotia and provide habitat for rare species.

Owls Head Provincial Park has biodiverse bogs and salt marshes, with significant species richness and variation.

Endangered Species Protection

These ecosystems support species at risk, including the endangered barn swallow and piping plover.

There are only 45 known breeding pairs of piping plovers in our province, so we must make every effort to protect them.

Important Carbon Sink

Owls Head Provincial Park features extensive wetlands, which absorb & store carbon. This ecological service is critical in the time of the climate crisis.

The offshore eelgrass meadows can absorb up to 35 times more carbon than trees can!

Eco-Tourism Benefits

Owls Head Provincial Park could offer kayaking, hiking, and coastal access while preserving the environment as part of the 100 Wild Islands Tourism Advancement Partnership.

Incredible Eelgrass Beds

Eelgrass meadows provide important habitat for hundreds of marine species, including lobster, crab, and herring. This contributes to biodiversity and helps our fisheries.

The ecosystem services (benefits) it provides have been estimated at $20,000 per hectare, per year.

Recreation & Conservation

A private valuation (assessment) concluded that the "highest and best use" of the property would be for recreation and conservation.

Coastal Access

Only ~5% of Nova Scotia's coastline is public and protected. Owls Head Provincial Park has over 5 miles of coastline.

Dangerous Precedent

There are nearly 200 other properties awaiting legal protection, like Owls Head Provincial Park was before it was secretly delisted.

What are we saving it from?

In March of 2019, the provincial government secretly removed Owls Head Provincial Park from Our Parks and Protected Areas Plan. They did this in order to enter into a Letter of Offer with a private developer, who wants to develop 2-3 golf courses and a residential community. Biologists warn that this would mean “complete destruction” of the site’s ecological values.

Despite the property’s 45-year history of promised protections, the provincial government delisted Owls Head Provincial Park without consulting with – or notifying – the public. The government also failed to consult with the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia (the original caretakers of this unceded land).

Why did we form this group?

Sydnee MacKay
Sydnee Lynn’s Speech at Rally.
Photo by Kevin Prinoski.

In December of 2019, investigative journalist Michael Gorman of the CBC revealed the province’s plan. Gorman discovered the secret delisting and offer to sell Owls Head Provincial Park thanks to a whistleblower and a Freedom of Information request.

Intense opposition was swift. Less than 24 hours after Gorman’s article was published, concerned citizen Sydnee Lynn McKay founded the Facebook group.

The Facebook group is the heart of a growing grassroots movement, with over 7,000 members who are passionate about saving Owls Head Provincial Park.

What We’re Advocating For:

Owls Head Provincial Park
Owls Head Provincial Park
as it was intended.
Short-Term Goals:

» Convince the government to withdraw from the Letter of Offer and restore Owls Head Provincial Park to Our Parks and Protected Areas Plan.

» Obtain formal and permanent protection for Owls Head Provincial Park.

Long-Term Goals:

» Seek formal protection for all properties on the Parks and Protected Areas Plan, in order to preserve them in perpetuity as provincial parks, wilderness areas, and nature reserves.

» Protect public land for future generations through conservation science, meaningful public consultation, and transparent governance.

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What our supporters say:

Scientists and citizens recognize the importance of Saving Owls Head Provincial Park
Sydnee Lynn McKay

Sydnee Lynn McKay

Facebook Group Founder

"Thousands of Nova Scotians have joined the movement. They’re concerned about the park, the process, and the precedent.”

Chris Trider

Chris Trider

Former Park Planner & Group Co-leader

"Once Owls Head Provincial Park is sold and developed, its ecological integrity cannot be restored. To me, as a landscape architect, these ridges and their plant communities are a priceless natural heritage landscape that should never be so senselessly destroyed."

Dr. Kristina Boerder

Dr. Kristina Boerder

Marine Biologist

"Eelgrass meadows provide critically important ecosystem services, including supporting our fisheries, helping to prevent coastal erosion, and storing carbon. The UN has even declared eelgrass meadows a “secret weapon” in the fight against climate change."

Caitlin Porter

Caitlin Porter

Research Biologist, Ecology of Plants in Communities Lab, St. Mary's University

"Our years of data reveal that Owls Head is ecologically unique and of importance to biodiversity conservation.

The impacts [of development] would be complete destruction of those important ecological features."

Chris Miller

Chris Miller

conservation biologist and executive director, CPAWS NS

"It's a place where conservation values and nature need to come first and human and economic development is only within the context of protecting those values."

Bob Bancroft

Bob Bancroft

Wildlife Biologist & Legal Case Applicant

"I believe Owls Head Provincial Park contains a globally rare coastal ecosystem that is home to several species of conservation concern."

Jamie Simpson

Jamie Simpson

Attorney in the Legal Case

“Roughly half of what we think of as Nova Scotia’s provincial parks are not technically a provincial park and the exact same state that befell Owls Head could potentially happen."

World Wildlife Fund Canada

World Wildlife Fund Canada

Leading conservation organization

"This ecologically important coastal wetland habitat is also home to several endangered species, including the piping plover, with eelgrass beds surrounding the headlands of the park providing vital coastal habitat."

Colin Stewart Forest Forum

Colin Stewart Forest Forum

Collaborative Report

"Most Tier 1 areas are truly irreplaceable, meaning that they represent the last opportunities to fill particularly critical gaps in the protected areas network, or to capture highly significant ecological features.”

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