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yellow lady's slipper

yellow lady's slipper


lichens & mosses


Fundy Gypsum's proposed strip mine
on the Avon Peninsula

A strip mine proposed by Fundy Gypsum for the forested karst uplands of the Avon Peninsula threatens sustainable livelihoods and would obliterate habitat for a number of species at risk.

It's time to pursue truly sustainable alternatives!

Recent events and documentation pertaining to the proposed mine are listed below (most recent at the top).

UPDATE April 21, 2012: Good News in the Spring of 2012. From Matt S:
Just to let you know,

The Hepatica and Eastern Leatherwood are in bloom now. Beavers are swimming and bats are in flight. All is well on the AP.

Keep it Karsty,


UPDATE January 10, 2012: From the Hants Journal, January 4, 2012: Trail to showcase Avondale areaÕs diverse ecology
A new hiking trail is now open in the Lady Slipper Capital of the Maritimes. Avon Peninsula Watershed Preservation Society (APWPS) director Matthew Smith says the Avondale Community Trail winds through some of the most picturesque land in the province, and beyond… READ MORE | How to get there
UPDATE Nov. 15, 2011 Fundy Gypsum permanently closes Hantsport Mine
Excerpts from the Chronicle Herald Nov 15, 2011):
Earlier this year, USG Corp. of Chicago announced it was idling the mine, which has been producing gypsum since 1934 for export to wallboard plants in the United States. The $3-billion building materials giant announced Monday [Nov 14, 2011] that the shutdown was permanent, putting the skeleton crew of less than 10 still working there on the unemployment lines.

He [Robert Williams, USG's senior director of corporate communications] thinks finding a buyer will be hard. "The main use for gypsum is gypsum wallboard," he said. "It is unlikely that anyone else would have an appetite for it." Dauphinee, the warden, agrees. "If that was the case, we would have heard by now," he said If so, it's a sad ending to an enterprise that once employed hundreds of people.

The county would like to buy some of Fundy GypsumÕs land to build an industrial park, he said.
Comment (dp):

UPDATE January 25, 2011 Plans for the Avon Peninsula mine go "on the shelf for now" as the Wentworth Creek mine closes Fundy Gypsum's Wentworth Creek mine near Windsor is being mothballed indefinitely at the end of February, 45 employees lose their jobs. But Fundy Gypsum Co. manager Mike Bishop said the company hopes to restart the quarry and production facility. Read more.

In a report in the Chronicle Herald on Jan. 26th, Bishop said that plans for the "large new quarry near Avondale" have been "put on the shelf for now". The company assets will remain inplace, however and Bishop expects they'll start up again. When depends totally on the markets, he says.

UPDATE February 20, 2010 Fundy Gypsum will face another round of layoffs as the company tries to cope with continued slumping worldwide demand for the product, plant manager Mike Bishop confirmed recently. Approximately 30 employees will be laid off around March 31. The company, a subsidiary of USG of Chicago, plans to close its Miller Creek operation and focus its efforts on the Wentworth Creek mine near Windsor, Hants County. The company laid off 46 employees in December 2008 for the same reason, reducing its workforce to 60. The current round of layoffs will leave the company with 30-40 full-time and seasonal employees. They expect this to be temporary depending on the markets.

UPDATE (Feb. 4th, 2010): Received today from NSE: Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau has approved the Miller's Creek Mine Extension, today, Feb. 4, with some conditions.
According to a report in the Chronicle Herald (Feb. 4th), a company offical commented: "They are all operating parameters under which any responsible mine should be operating anyway." However, in response to queries from Howard Epstein at the NS Standing Committee on Economic Development, Sept 2000, a Georgia Pacific official commented: "I would be surprised if you would see any more gypsum quarries developed in Nova Scotia forever ..It is difficult to find a deposit of any size that is outside of a watershed or outside of a municipal population". Headwaters ARE off limits to truly responsible enterprises if not to Fundy Gypsum and, apparently, our current and previous provincial governments!
CGC Inc. - Fundy Gypsum has received approval for the project subject to conditions to protect the environment, including limiting the size of the extension to about 105 hectares. The company had proposed to develop 347 hectares.

The decision also includes conditions such as:
-- extensive monitoring of surface and groundwater
-- developing a wetland compensation plan
-- establishing a community liaison committee
-- legally protecting a 46-hectare conservation area within four years
-- creating a program to monitor rare plants in the conservation area
-- developing a plan to reclaim the land affected by the mining operation
-- creating a protection plan to protect plant species
-- studying the area to gather information on local bats
-- creating a plan to fully protect places in the area where bats may go

The minister's decision and the conditions of the environmental assessment approval are on the Department of Environment's website at"
Some reaction (Article in The Coast, Feb. 18, 2010)
UPDATE (Jan. 2010):
A decision is due by Feb. 5, 2010. View the impressive documentation by local residents and their supporters in response to the mine proposal on the APWPS website.

Gypsum Co. submits Focus Report
(Fall 2009)

Fundy Gypsum's proposed strip mine in the centre of the Avon Peninsula would destroy a region of high biodiversity and undermine sustainable livlihoods in the area.

Fundy Gypsum submitted its Focus Report (a revised environmental assessment) for a proposed strip mine on the Avon Peninsula to the N.S. government on October 16, 2009. The documents are available on the NSE website. (The Avon Peninsula is bounded to the west by the Avon River, to the south by the St. Croix River, to the north by the Kennetcook River; it lies across the Avon river from Windsor.)

Fundy Gypsum, a subsidiary of United States Gypsum Company, registered its initial proposal in February, 2008. There were many reservations expressed to then Minister of Environment of Mark Parent by residents, scientists and the public at large. He requested follow-up studies by Fundy Gypsum; their response is the Focus Report.

Public comments on the Focus Report will be accepted until November 23, 2009.

The Minister of Environment/N.S. government will then make a decision on whether to

  • allow the mine (subject to specified terms and conditions and any other approvals required by statute or regulation);
  • require an environmental-assessment report;
  • not allow the mine,

The proposed mine is situated in the centre of a forested, upland "watershed commons" on karst landscape which, to date, has protected the water supply for rich farmland, residents and small industries on the Avon Peninsula. It also supports an unusual diverse flora, small wetlands with rich amphibian and reptile populations and at least one bat hibernaculum.

The flora includes ram's head lady's-slipper (red listed and legally protected under the N.S. Endangered Species Act. ), round-lobed hepatica (red-listed) black ash (yellow-listed) eastern leatherwood ( red listed), yellow lady's-slipper (yellow listed ), thimbleweed (yellow-listed). Canada buffalo-berry (yellow-listed ) and three rare lichens (Solorina saccata, Collema cristatum var. cristatum and Leptogium lichenoides).

The area has long been of special interest to naturalists in Nova Scotia. Earlier this year, the Halifax Field Naturalists. the Nova Scotia Wild Flora Society and botanists Sean Blaney and Ruth Newell endorsed citation of the Avon Peninsula as the Lady Slipper Capital of the Maritimes. That title will hardly be tenable if the mine goes ahead. For some background and perspectives on the area and the proposed mine, see


Posted at on Nov. 5, 2009.