Why is Owls Head Provincial Park Worth Protecting?

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 coastal 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 Habitat

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

Part of the shoreline is included in the province's significant habitat database for nesting piping plovers.

Scientists from CPAWS NS recently recorded a sighting of an endangered leatherback sea turtle offshore!

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!

Nature Tourism Benefits

Owls Head Provincial Park could offer kayaking, low-impact boardwalks, and coastal access while preserving the environment.

New revenue-generating visitor experiences can complement the existing 100 Wild Islands Tourism Advancement Partnership, the Eastern Shore Islands, and the Eastern Shore Seaside Park System.

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 publicly owned coastline. This is part of what makes Owls Head Park property an integral natural environment park component of the Eastern Shore Seaside Park System.

Dangerous Precedent

If the secret delisting and sale of Owls Head Provincial Park are allowed to proceed, it will put ~125 parks awaiting designation at risk across the province. In many cases, citizens have no idea that these “parks” aren’t formally protected.

Parks in Peril

The secret delisting of a provincial park reserve set a troubling precedent for Nova Scotia’s parks and protected areas—now and for the future.

In addition to Owls Head Provincial Park, there are approximately 125 provincial parks, nature reserves, and wilderness areas across Nova Scotia that still aren’t legally protected.  

After nearly two years of unwavering public opposition, the prospective developer withdrew from the Letter of Offer in November of 2021.  Now it’s imperative that the government of Nova Scotia restore the integrity of the provincial park network. We’re calling on the Houston government to legally protect Owls Head Provincial Park and the 125 other properties from Our Parks and Protected Areas Plan with an Order in Council.

UPDATE: In January, the Houston government assured citizens that the province will protect the area, but Nova Scotians are still eagerly awaiting that designation (legal protection).

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The People Speak

Scientists and citizens across Nova Scotia recognize the importance of saving Owls Head Provincial Park
Chris Trider

Chris Trider

Former Park Planner

"We have said from the beginning that the Owls Head Park property is an integral, important, natural environment park component of the Eastern Shore Seaside Park System. This reversal by the developer in the face of overwhelming public opposition presents us with the opportunity to realize a vision for the Eastern Shore as a globally significant ecotourism destination."

Sydnee Lynn McKay

Sydnee Lynn McKay

Facebook Group Founder

"I was raised next to Owls Head Provincial Park, my family lived off the land and the water for generations. I have always felt the importance of nature. To me the underdog is the earth, the animals, the birds, the plants, the trees, the fish. They can’t survive without us protecting them."

Dr. Kristina Boerder

Dr. Kristina Boerder

Marine Biologist

"Eelgrass [seagrass] meadows provide critically important ecosystem services, including supporting our fisheries, helping to prevent coastal erosion, and storing carbon. Unfortunately, seagrass meadows are also one of the world’s most threatened ecosystems. Here on Nova Scotia's Eastern Shore, we have an incredible opportunity to protect it."

Bob Bancroft

Bob Bancroft

Wildlife Biologist & Legal Case Applicant

"Humans as well as nature need a significant change of direction in order to survive... We urgently need action, not words, to preserve public trust and foster respect for nature."

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.

That was the most important aspect of this that we saw, that there ought to be an obligation on government to let the public know before it goes ahead with decision-making on issues like this."

Lindsay Lee

Lindsay Lee

Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association

"By protecting Owls Head Provincial Park, this government can restore the integrity of the protected areas network and start rebuilding public trust.

When people recognize that something is deeply wrong, and work together with purpose and vision, they can accomplish amazing things."

Peter Barss

Peter Barss

Concerned Citizen

"Bit by bit, we chipped away at the natural world that sustains us. The cumulative effect of small, incremental changes over the decades has brought us to the mess we're in now. If there's any hope, it's that grassroots examples will pressure our governments to make the major changes we need."

Beverley Isaacs

Beverley Isaacs

Local Advocate

"Thank you to everyone who put countless hours into stopping this sale. I think this shows that our voices are being heard and we shouldn't give up — we should continue for what is right for the people of Nova Scotia.

Now, we need to get Owls Head Provincial Park protected and stand up for the other parks awaiting protection, so this never happens again.

Elizabeth Marshall

Elizabeth Marshall

Mi'kmaw Land and Water Protector

“Owls Head is a paradise. I went there because I want to demonstrate to my ancestors, and to the Creator, my love for creation by asserting our title and sovereignty. We have to stand up for the next generation because they deserve better than what these men are promising.”

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

"Delisting parkland is a red line that cannot be crossed. Until the lands are legally protected, they remain vulnerable. The only way for the Nova Scotia government to properly end this debacle is to put legal protection in place and they need to do that expeditiously."

Celes Davar

Celes Davar

Experiential Tourism Operator

"In this time of climate change and biodiversity loss, 
we are at a historic moment to choose differently 
about parks and protected areas, 
the future of Nova Scotia, 
and the health of the planet.

A forward-thinking tourism strategy can make the Eastern Shore a leading nature tourism destination. Protecting Owls Head Provincial Park will help us to embrace new, low-impact tourism opportunities that benefit the economy and the environment."

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