Worthy of Protection

Owls Head Provincial Park is a biodiverse property with undisturbed coastal heathlands, salt marshes and bogs, a freshwater lake, estuaries, beaches, and a pristine, rugged coastline. It is bordered by offshore eelgrass beds and is home to several species of conservation concern, including a “globally rare” Broom Crowberry (Corema conradii) ecosystem. Scientists from Saint Mary’s University have been studying the plant communities of Owls Head Provincial Park for years. They’ve concluded that the proposed developments would “destroy this ecologically important habitat.”

Owls Head Provincial Park was assigned a “Tier 1” (top priority) conservation rating through the Colin Stewart Forest Forum Final Report. It was included in Our Parks and Protected Areas Plan based on extensive consultations with citizens, environmental organizations, industry representatives, and the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs. Even a private real estate valuation commissioned by the prospective developer declared that the “highest and best use” for the property would be ‘conservation’ or ‘recreation’ (such as hiking and kayaking).

The site’s ecosystems have evolved around the compelling topography, a result of the last Ice Age, over 10,000 years ago. But these natural bedrock ridges would have to been blown up to develop the site. The proposal from Lighthouse Links mentions grinding the rock into sand. Or as reporter Richard Bell aptly described the process, “literally grinding the park as it now exists into biological, ecological, and geological oblivion.”

As a 268-hectare, undisturbed coastal landscape on the Atlantic Flyway, Owls Head Provincial Park is an important habitat for native bird species and a refuge for migratory birds. Part of its shoreline is included in the provincial government’s significant habitat database for nesting piping plovers. In Nova Scotia, there are fewer than 40 breeding pairs of piping plovers, so we must make every effort to protect them.

CPAWS NS and a team of expert birders set out “to identify bird species across these habitats and document the ecological significance of this unique region.” Through surveys from the land and the water, the expert birders identified over 70 species of birds, including provincially endangered barn swallows.

Recommended Reading:

Ecological Life Support: Why We Need to Preserve this Biodiverse Coastal Headland

Avian Diversity at Owls Head Provincial Park

Timeline of Promised Protections

Piping Plover photo courtesy of Jason Dain

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