Errors in the Forest Development Stage Layer for Sandy Lake area 2May2023

I have made use of the Forest DCL (Development Stage Layer) in the NS Provincial Landscape Viewer to illustrate the abundance of Mature and Muti-Aged-Old Forest in the area of Sandy Lake, e.g. see the map at the top of the page Mature/OG Forest.

Recently I learned that this layer had been updated, and checked it out in relation to the Sandy lake area. To my surprise, the new DCL reclassified some significant areas I knew from ground observations to be Old Mature or Muti-aged/Old Growth and that had been classified as such in the 2017 version of the map; the reclassification now identifies these areas as Early Mature Forest – including the 200+ year old hemlock stand on ‘The Peninsula’. Continue reading

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Nature NS: “Undeveloped Shorelines and Rare Old Forests in Bedford NS Threatened by Rushed Housing Order” 24Mar2023

Nature Nova Scotia, the Federation of Nova Scotia Naturalists, announced on their Facebook site yesterday that they had recently joined the Sandy Lake-Sackville River Regional Park Coalition “to help spread awareness and take action on the threats facing this rare gem”.

Nature NS appeals to supporters to “Help us save Sandy Lake by writing to government today. Ask Premier Tim Houston to remove these old forests, pristine lakes, and species at risk habitats from the province’s Task Force on Housing list of rushed development areas. Sandy Lake should be protected park land, belonging to all Nova Scotians.”

View Undeveloped Shorelines and Rare Old Forests in Bedford NS Threatened by Rushed Housing Order on the Nature NS Website (Posted Mar 19, 2023) for details.

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Deep water oxygen levels in Sandy Lake (Bedford, NS) fall to precariously low levels 21Mar2023

Sackville River Regional Park as envisaged in a 1979 report. (Click on image for a larger version ).View 1979 Report. View website for the Sandy Lake – Sackville River Regional Park Coalition for the current vision of this park.


UPDATE June 21, 2023: A set of Independent observations I have just learned about are consistent with our observations of low oxygen at depth, and additionally provide evidence of internal P loading. See below

UPDATE June 17, 2023: Clarification of “algal bloom” (2019) and “BGA warning” (2022)
Update June 16, 2023: Water quality in Bedford’s Sandy Lake at ‘precarious levels,’ retired Dalhousie biology prof says Yvette D’Entremont in the Halifax Examiner, June 16, 2023
The concept of a ‘Sandy Lake-Sackville Regional Park’ harks back to the 1970s,   It would encompass lands surrounding Sandy and Marsh Lakes and the adjacent lands by the Sackville River (see map at right).   In our first  (2006) Regional Plan, reference was made  to  “Jacks Lake Park” as an “Additional Regional Park”  focussed on the east side of the lake.  There was reference to an existing “Sandy Lake Regional Park” – 130 forested acres on the east side of Sandy Lake officially opened in 2004 as the “Sandy Lake Park” –  but  lands to the west of Sandy Lake were given an “Urban Settlement” designation, meaning they were identified as an area for future growth (housing) in HRM, not conservation & recreation. (For more details see “2006 Regional Plan Note” at the bottom of  this post).

The Urban Settlement designation set in motion a requirement for a watershed study under Policy E-17 of the 2006 Regional Plan (see pp 44-52 in AECOM 2014 for details).

The desktop study (except for a few water samples taken in 2013), requested in June 2013, was completed Aug 25, 2014. From AECOM 2014: Continue reading

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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:
Continue reading

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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

Continue reading

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Our Wabanaki Forest

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

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. 

Continue reading

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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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