Methods

Observations were conducted on 22 separate days over the interval June 14 to Nov 1, 2017. Two of those days were spent exclusively on Sandy Lake; the others were focused primarily on land, but some included observations on streams, wetlands and lakeshores.

The observations were exploratory and largely descriptive in nature. Several types or categories of observations were made.

Walking routes
The general locations of walking routes were chosen to provide broad coverage of the area within the SLPRP. Because of time constraints, I did not get to the area north of Marsh lake, nor into much of the proposed expansion of the regional park beyond the HRM Conceptual boundary.

As I walked to a desired destination or through an area I wanted to document, I took photographs and recorded observations intermittently by talking as I made a low res video; the audio was later transcribed to text. Most photographs were taken with GPS-enabled cameras. On some routes or days, specific locations were also recorded as waypoints on a Garmin GPSmap 62S which is more accurate/less variable than the camera GPS units.

Routine observations included a description of the species of trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants; moss and lichen cover of soil and tree trunks; occurrence of blowdowns, snags, coarse wood debris, rocky outcrops or erratics.

I noted occurrence of all trees 16” (40 cm) and greater dbh (diameter at breast height) that were “readily visible” which were those lying within about 20-30 m on either side as I walked a particular route. In some cases I changed the route to examine an area of larger trees in the distance. I estimated and/or measured the dbh, the latter calculated from the circumference measured with a tape measure. About 1/4 of the trees were measured. Preliminary examination of those data indicate close correspondence between averages of estimated and measured values, some spread for individual trees.

Surface waters
I routinely measured electrical conductivity on watercourses that I encountered, and pH on some of them. The EC measurement were made with a pocket HM Digital Aquapro Water Tester which measures electrical conductivity and temperature. It was inserted directly in the water or a sample was placed in a jar and the measurement made immediately. I purchased this piece of equipment specifically for this purpose (cost ~$30). It was factory calibrated. I had no technical issues using it and measurements on a reference sample of tap water were consistent; I am trying to get an independent measurement on my reference sample.

pH was measured with a pocket Ecosense pH10 meter on loan from the Community Based Environmental Monitoring Network (CBEMN) at St. Mary’s University. It was calibrated by SMU. The batteries tended to run put quickly so I was not able to use it consistently.

A Wet-Pro Field Kit with a 30 meter probe borrowed from CBEMN was used to obtain vertical profiles of oxygen, temperature, pH and electrical conductivity at 3 sites on Sandy lake on Oct 3, 2017. A secchi disk was also borrowed from CBEMN for use on the same day. Measurements were made when there was very little wind activity. A bucket full of rocks was attached to the probe to ensure that is descended vertically and so that we were certain when it reached bottom. (Some instruments have a pressure sensor which provides the depth; this one did not have such a sensor. In previous work with this instrument I had found it difficult to tell when it reached the bottom, hence the bucket of rocks.)

Sandy Lake’s wetland fringe
On Aug 10, I paddled the margins of all of Sandy Lake, measuring or estimating the width of the fringe occupied by emergent aquatics, and noting the occurrence of floating aquatics; species were identified as possible. I made some additional observations of fringes at the northern end of the lake on several more days in August. More limited observations were made from land at Marsh Lake and Jack Lack. Measurements of electrical conductivity were made at the same times.

Old Growth
With the collaboration of Colin Gray of the Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute, three sites were assessed for Old Forest ranking according to the scheme used by the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources. We cored one tree at a 4th site to determine its age.

Pit and Mound Topography
Measurements were made to characterize Pit and Mound topography at the three candidate Old Growth sites. Details of methods are included with the results. This is now an ongoing study conducted with collaboration locally of Bob Guscott, a retired NSDNF forester. Bob has been conducting similar observations in the area of Grand Lake (Oakfield, NS).

Public Walk
I led a “Forest Walk” for the Nova Scotia Wild Flora Society on Oct 14, 2017. A lichenologist attending the walk compiled a list of lichens at one site, and another member of the NSWFS collected sedges. Members of the public were invited and a half dozen or so people who live in the area participated. The comments of participants provide some indication of how others might view these sites.

Drone photography
I suggested to Karen Robinson of the SLCA that it would be nice to obtain some drone photography of Sandy Lake and Environs when the leaves are changing and different species are most readily discerned. The SLCA made arrangements to obtain some drone video and photographs in the second half of October; credits are cited where I have made use of these materials.