For Immediate Release
June 15, 2022
Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association applauds the Province’s decision to legally designate Owls Head Provincial Park, but points out that the underlying issues that put Owls Head at risk remain.
“While Owls Head is making headlines as Nova Scotia’s “newest” provincial park, it’s actually a park 47 years in the making,” explained Lindsay Lee, the Secretary of Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association. “After nearly five decades of public consultations, government plans, and scientific studies, Owls Head Provincial Park is finally getting the legal protection it needs and deserves.”
But Owls Head isn’t the only pending protected area in a vulnerable position. Across the province, approximately 125 provincial parks, nature reserves, and wilderness areas are still awaiting designation, meaning that they, too, could be secretly delisted. In many cases, citizens and communities have no idea that these ‘parks’ aren’t legally protected. “Without stronger legal protections, Nova Scotia’s parks and protected areas will perpetually be at risk,” wrote Lindsay Lee. “And in the midst of rapid biodiversity loss and climate change, that’s not good for the province or the planet.”
“We’re very grateful to Premier Houston and his government for helping to right this wrong. But new legislative measures are still needed to protect other vulnerable sites across the province,” agreed longtime board member Patricia Egli. “No one wants to see a repeat of the secret Owls Head delisting: the clandestine deal, the erosion of public trust, or the overwhelming public outcry.”
In July 2021, Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Christa Brothers ruled that there is “no recognized common law duty of procedural fairness owed by the Crown to the public at large.” But Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association believes it’s past time for that to change. If the groundswell of support for the Owls Head movement is any indication, Forest Watch is far from alone.
Citizens have displayed thousands of “Save Owls Head” signs across the province, from Yarmouth to Cape Breton. The movement has over 10,000 supporters on Facebook alone, including scientists, Mi’kmaw Land and Water Protectors, and residents of the Eastern Shore. Supporters have collected over 10,000 signatures on a formal petition and over 42,000 signatures on the online version.
“Sometimes, governments need to be reminded of how powerful the voices of its citizens truly are,” said Lee. “The Save Owls Head movement has shown just how much Nova Scotians care about wild spaces, coastal parks, and transparency.”