Photo courtesy of CPAWS NS
Statement from Canadian Parks And Wilderness Society (CPAWS) Nova Scotia Chapter
This summer, CPAWS-NS has visited Owls Head numerous times. Accompanied by a range of biodiversity experts, we have been completing a series of surveys to record the rich natural diversity of this coastal headland.
Our team has identified over 75 species of birds that occur here, undertaking surveys from the land and on the water. Later this month, we’ll be out again with our snorkels, studying eelgrass beds in the area.
Owls Head has long been recognized for its conservation significance, as a stunning coastal headland that supports important ecosystems and a globally-rare plant community. It’s been a treat to explore these ecological features firsthand over the summer, but this also serves as a stark reminder of what we stand to lose if the government proceeds with this ill-conceived land deal.
Owls Head Provincial Park Reserve is currently under threat. The Nova Scotia government secretly delisted this site from protection in March 2019 in order to sell-off these public lands to a golf course developer. The Nova Scotia government undertook this brash move without any public consultation. They didn’t even bother to notify the public that the park had been delisted. We only know about this because of the investigative journalism of the CBC.
This back-room land deal by the Nova Scotia government is totally unacceptable and has triggered a huge public backlash. The government needs to walk back their decision, by calling off the sale of public land and restoring protections to Owls Head.
Since news of the delisting of Owls Head first broke, there has been one small detail of good news. The federal government owns a property adjacent to Owls Head park, the site of an old lighthouse. The Nova Scotia government was attempting to acquire this property and flip it to the golf course developer. Fortunately, following the huge public backlash, the federal government called-off this federal land transfer and is, instead, proceeding with a federal protected area designation for these important federal lands.
That’s an important victory that wouldn’t have happened without the public outcry, but the provincial lands are still very much threatened. CPAWS-NS will continue to advocate for the protection of Owls Head and we will be undertaking important fieldwork at the headland to demonstrate its conservation significance.
As part of our weeklong visit to the Eastern Shore Islands, we will be visiting Owls Head again today. Please follow along.
By: Caitlin Grady, Conservation Campaigner