OWLS HEAD: A RECOGNIZED CANDIDATE FOR PROTECTION FOR 45 YEARS
MAY 1, 1975
“The concept of an Eastern Shore Seaside Park System was unanimously approved-in-principle by local community representatives on May 1, 1975. This proposed concept was the product of co-operative efforts by the Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forests, the provincial government, public participation advisors, and elected citizen representatives.”Eastern Shore Seaside Park System Brochure
The brochure was prepared by the Parks and Recreation Division of the Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forests, in cooperation with the Citizen’s Representatives Committee for the Eastern Shore Seaside Park System (circa 1977). Click to enlarge.
“The Eastern Shore Seaside Park System Citizen’s Representative Committee was formed in February 1975, following the Nova Scotia government’s announcement of plans to develop the Eastern Shore Seaside Park System. The Minister of Nova Scotia’s Department of Lands and Forests declared that his department wanted to actively encourage public participation in the planning of the proposed provincial Park System […] The Committee was comprised of 21 locally elected members representing 17 communities from Musquodoboit Harbour to Sheet Harbour. Soon after its formation, the Committee decided on its own objectives.”Eastern Shore Archives
Eastern Shore Seaside Park System concept Master Plan is published in N.S. CoNServation, Vol. 4, No. 2, a quarterly publication of the N.S. Department of Land and Forests (now “Lands and Forestry”).
The Clam Harbour beach building and boardwalks are almost completed. The map found on pages 8 and 9 indicates that Owls Head park lands seem to include the southern shorelines and Cuckold Island.
The map’s legend identifies that Owls Head park lands were to be “natural areas.” Owls Head was part of the “Islands and Headlands” area, as one of the “Natural Environment Parks Proposed as representative examples of the unique coastal landscape.”
Click to enlarge.
Office of the Department of Lands and Forests in Musquodoboit Harbour gave information about the Eastern Shore Seaside Park System as still being a work in progress.
DECEMBER 3, 1998
Wilderness Areas Protection Act is passed and Tangier Grand Lake Wilderness Area (a large inland portion of the Eastern Shore Seaside Park System) is protected.
Colin Stewart Forest Forum Final Report is released by the Nova Scotia Environment and the Department of Natural Resources.
“Presented to government in November of 2009, this report is based on nearly 5 years of scientific analysis and cooperative planning by members of the Colin Stewart Forest Forum. It is an exceptional example of different interest groups working together – in this case major forestry companies and environmental organizations.”Colin Stewart Forestry Forum Introductory Letter
Owls Head is identified as Tier 1 (top priority) conservation land.
“Tier 1 areas are those of highest priority and conservation value […] 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.”Colin Stewart Forestry Forum Final Report
Screenshot of Map 2.7, p. 25, Eastern Shore Archipelago: Conservation and Scientific Assessment, Nova Scotia Nature Trust. Click to enlarge.
Note that the south shore of the headland and Cuckold Island are no longer included in the Owls Head property.
Owls Head is featured on map 15 of the “12 percent lands for review series” produced by the Protected Area Branch of Nova Scotia Environment. It is part of area 304: “Owls Head and Islands, 24 sites 276 hectares.”
The 12% review initiative is in response to the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act (2007), which set a goal to protect 12% of the land in Nova Scotia by 2015.
Owls Head is identified as a Park Reserve in the “Provincial Parks and Parks Reserve” map series, issued by the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources
After years of consultations, Our Parks and Protected Areas is published. Owls Head Provincial Park is site #694. The Plan “represents what are considered to be the best lands for protection.”
Our Parks and Protected Areas: A Plan for Nova Scotia builds on extensive consultations and activities over the last several years that yielded the Colin Stewart Forest Forum final report, the Our Wild Spaces discussion paper, and The Path We Share, the Natural Resources Strategy.Nova Scotia Government Website
August 14, 2018
Halifax Regional Council approved the Halifax Green Network Plan, which “defines an interconnected open space system for the municipality, highlights ecosystem functions and benefits, and outlines strategies to manage open space.”
Owls Head Park is identified as a provincial park and also falls under Area of Consideration 8 (100 Wild Islands). Furthermore, the Halifax Green Network Plan understands the importance of ecological connectivity and indicates an “essential corridor” back and forth from Tangier Grand Lake Wilderness Area to Owls Head Park.
Please click to enlarge and see the other maps from the HGNP.
JANUARY 25, 2020
In the online maps of Nova Scotia Parks and Protected Areas, Owls Head is still labelled as “Owls Head Provincial Park.” Ten months after it was secretly removed from Our Parks and Protected Areas Plan, it is nevertheless surrounded by a dark line, indicating that it is part of the “Lands in the final Parks and Protected Areas Plan (2013).”
Owls Head Park has been part of park plans or protected land plans for 45 years. Whether it was listed as “Owls Head Provincial Park” or “Owls Head Park Reserve,” the park was included on maps and government documents over several decades, leading many Nova Scotians to think that it was protected. The public is well-justified in thinking that the property has a high ecological value and is worthy of protection.
Many citizens, community groups, and NGOs have spent countless hours participating in the different initiatives, such as the Eastern Shore Seaside Park System, the Colin Stewart Forest Forum, the 12 % protected land initiative, and Our Parks and Protected Areas. It shows that many Nova Scotians deeply care about our wild lands.
Prepared by Patricia Egli with supplementary material by Lindsay Lee.
Many thanks to Patricia Egli of The Eastern Shore Forest Watch for researching and compiling this timeline, which was first presented at the Ship Harbour Community Centre meeting. The information has since been made available with her permission.