HRM Sandy Lake Ecological Features Assessment completed 9Jul2022

UPDATE JULY 12,2022:
Council passed the boundary study motion unanimously (motion below, moved by Counc. Blackburn, Seconded by Counc. Outhit):
That Halifax Regional Council direct the Chief Administrative Officer to:
1. Incorporate the analysis and findings of the Sandy Lake Ecological Features Assessment in the planning and development of Sandy Lake Park.
2. Review and use the findings of the Sandy Lake Ecological Features Assessment in the background studies being undertaken for the Sandy Lake Special Planning Area, including organizing the form and location of development to best protect at least:
a. the suggested widths for important corridors,
b. the suggested riparian and watercourse buffers, and
c. the identified areas of predicted old or mature forest.
3. Explore the use of conservation easements as part of the Sandy Lake Provincial Special Planning Area background studies to manage ecological features or corridors that extend outside of the conceptual park boundary.
4. Assess how to best organize land use and green infrastructure as part of the Sandy Lake Provincial Special Planning Area Background Watershed Study to mitigate any downstream impacts to the Sackville River and Sackville River Floodplain.

Link to Council discussions vote: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lc_IcYMRJ44
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ORIGINAL POST

On Nov 9, 2021, Halifax Regional Council directed the “Chief Administrative Officer to direct staff to retain an independent consultant to direct staff to retain an independent consultant to assist with expediting the preparation of a staff report and recommendation for the purpose of identifying an optimal conceptual boundary for an expanded Sandy Lake Regional Park based on environmental information about the area considering:

“a) The natural vegetation buffers required to protect the water quality and reduce downstream flooding of Sandy Lake, Sackville River, associated tributaries and wetlands.
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Land swaps could solve the ‘Sandy Lake versus Development Dilemma’ 6Jul2022

“We need to be creative and think outside the mandated boxes. If we do so, we create a general model for satisfying the three main demands [to conserve environmentally sensitive lands, increase housing and make it profitable to do both] that also apply elsewhere in HRM, even across Canada.”

View looking towards the southwest extremity of Sandy Lake.  Clearcuts that can be observed at top right are on some of the land proposed for fast-tracked development.  Those lands also lie within a  corridor for movement of wildlife on and off of the Chebucto Peninsula and locally and include headwater streams for Sandy Lake. Click on image for larger version 
See more views From the Air

In an op-ed in the Chronicle Herald published on July 2, 2022,  Bluff Trail founder & Philosophy Prof (retired) Richmond Campbell suggests that land swaps could be a win-win-win solution to the the ‘Sandy Lake versus Development Dilemma’.

In such swaps, developers would acquire land suitable for fast-tracked housing  development currently held by HRM or the provincial government in exchange for environmentally vulnerable land owned by the developer.  It would a be a win-win-win, says Campbell:

1. for environmentalists wanting to conserve biodiversity, to fight climate change, and to preserve the recreational and educational values at Sandy Lake;
2. for those who rightly recognize the need for fast-tracking housing;
3. for the developers who expect to make a profit in building the needed housing and who respect the environment.

Specific proposals and an apparent willingness of the developer to consider land swaps  are cited in a 4 page document prepared by the The Sandy Lake-Sackville River Regional Park Coalition for a meeting with the Housing Task Force earlier this year. Continue reading

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Blue-green algae warning for Sandy Lake (Bedford) underscores concerns about ongoing and proposed development around the headwaters 28Jun2022

The last time: Algal bloom at Sandy Lake Beach  on Aug 6, 2019 View Post 7Aug2019
Click on image for larger version

In an article posted yesterday in the Chronicle Herald, Sandy Lake is reported to be one of 5 lakes in HRM in which blue-green algae (BGA, also known as cyanobacteria) have been detected recently. From the article:

The province is warning that blue-green algae has been spotted in five Halifax-area lakes and another three throughout Nova Scotia.

“This year we haven’t had any reports of anyone becoming sick or any dogs being harmed by blue-green algae,” said Elizabeth Kennedy, the director of the water branch for Nova Scotia Environment and Climate Change

The province reported blue-green algae in:

Sandy Lake in Bedford
Stillwater Lake in Tantallon
Coon Pond, in Upper Tantallon
Stream inlet into Bissett Lake in at Colby Drive in Cole Harbour
Just outside of HRM, Shubenacadie Grand Lake and Fish Lake             near Enfield

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Our Wabanaki Forest

This item is copied from a  post published on June 21, 2022 on nsforestnotes.ca 

Wabanaki Forest by Lower Trout Lake on the Chebucto Peninsula 
Click on images for larger versions

Today, June 21, 2022, we in the northern hemisphere celebrate the summer solstice, as our ancestors have done since prehistoric times.

It is also Canada’s National Indigenous Peoples Day:

In cooperation with Indigenous organizations, the Government of Canada chose June 21, the summer solstice, for National Aboriginal Day, now known as National Indigenous Peoples Day. For generations, many Indigenous peoples and communities have celebrated their culture and heritage on or near this day due to the significance of the summer solstice as the longest day of the year. 

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Saturday May 28, 2022: World Fish Migration Day

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Turtle Nesting Time again 11May2022

The picture is of a nesting snapping turtle at Sandy Lake Last year

Writes Clarence Stevens in the Halifax Field Naturalists Nature Archive today:

It is turtle nesting time again.

This amazingly diverse area, Sandy Lake-Sackville River, houses three of Nova Scotia’s four turtle species, snapping turtles, painted turtles and wood turtles.

All are under protection as species at risk.

Sandy Lake is only one of a handful of city lakes that still has a healthy turtle population. Continue reading

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Salmon fry spotted in Sandy Lake watershed 3 May2022

Walter Reagan, President of the Sackville Rivers Association forwarded an email he received yesterday from I.G. with some good news: Salmon fry were spotted in Sandy Lake watershed:

I saw good numbers  of salmon fry between Marsh and Sandy Lake a few days ago, every shallow eddy had a dozen or so, watched them feeding for several minutes, very nice to see. Great spawning substrate; the logs and sills are working well.

Digger log installed by SRA on Upper Peverill’s Brook

That’s Good News indeed and more reason to fight hard to protect Sandy Lake!

For more about salmon in the Sackville River Watershed (the Sandy lake Watershed is its biggest sub-watershed), view  Atlantic Salmon (page on this website).

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Follow-up Earth Day with Guided Walk at Sandy Lake on Sat Apr 23

Follow-up  Earth Day (Friday Apr 22nd 2022) with a guided nature walk with Clarence Stevens at Sandy Lake Park, off Smith’s Road, Bedford, on Saturday April 23rd at 2pm.

Come see first hand why this area is so important to save from a looming housing development! Last time we had an outing with Clarence we got to hold baby snapping turtles, and a Barred Own flew right over our heads on huge silent wings! Beautiful!

Register by messaging Clarence directly on his FaceBook page, or just go to the big parking lot at the end of Smith’s Road, just off exit 3 of the 102 highway, 2 pm, this Saturday April 23rd.

Be prepared for 1 ½ to 2 hours exploring spring at Sandy Lake-Sackville River Regional Park.

& Let’s Save Sandy Lake-Sackville River Regional Park!

Continue reading

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In the News… Pressure To Develop Sandy Lake Area; Lake Monitoring 20Apr2022

Update Apr 21, 2022: The Feds think ecological corridors provided by areas such as Sandy Lake are important. See Parks Canada, Government of Canada launches new National Program for Ecological Corridors (Posted Apr 21, 2022)

Walter Regan on the Todd Veinotte Show
Interview is at the beginning, 0 to 10:45 min “Walter Regan discusses the plan to fast-track housing development in an ecologically diverse area, raising concerns for conservationists who’ve been fighting for years to protect the unspoiled land west of Halifax.” It is an impassioned and comprehensive overview of the major issues as only Walter Regan can do…

Municipality launches LakeWatchers Water Quality Monitoring Program
HRM Public Service Announcement “The municipality is launching a new Lake Water Quality Monitoring Program called LakeWatchers, which will conduct environmental monitoring in 76 lakes across the municipality. The purpose of the program is to collect data, such as pH levels, to inform future actions to maintain or improve a lake’s health. The data will be publicly available through future staff reports to Regional Council and through the municipality’s Open Data Portal. “Includes Sandy Lake.

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Please be on the lookout for Hemlock Wooly Adelgid in the vicinity of Sandy Lake (Bedford NS) 25Mar2022

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid. “Their name comes from waxy white filaments they make to protect themselves from drying out. These “hemlock vampires” were first discovered in 1951 in Virginia, and by 2005 had spread to fifteen other states.
Source: Paul Hetzler, Cornell Cooperative Extension
Photo source: Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, Bugwood.org

We learned of the arrival of this  really horrible pest, the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid (HWA), aka the Hemlock Vampires, in NS (and in all of Atlantic Canada) only in Aug of 2017, which seems like ages ago now.

When first discovered, it had already spread though  three counties at the southwest extremity of NS (Digby, Yarmouth and Shelburne) so likely had hopped across the gulf of Maine (or got a ride on some wood) from infected areas in the northeastern USA – see map. It is not known in N.B.

The latest update (Dec 31, 2022, below) shows it spreading progressively though the province, now many confirmed sites  in Annapolis and Queens Co.  and a few in each of Kings and Lunenburg Co. Continue reading

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