In the Water and on the Drumlin by Bedford Lions Sandy Lake Beach Park

Some reasons to celebrate and some reasons to be concerned about Sandy Lake & Environs
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A presentation by David Patriquin to the Bedford Lions Club on Dec 3, 2020.

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View A few of the Slides below for a quick overview of what’s in the talk

Sandy Lake is a near-pristine lake lying within a partially developed landscape in the suburbs of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Bedford Lions Club led the way for establishing the Sandy Lake Beach Park  in 2003/4.

It’s a wonderful spot, for children especially, with safe swimming, paddling, fishing and opportunities for diverse nature activities. Mixed Acadian forest with patches of Old Growth occurs on drumlins by the Beach and is readily accessed via old forestry roads.

There is pressure to develop in an area of the watershed that provides most of the water for the lake.

In this presentation to the Bedford Lions Club on Dec 3, 2020, David Patriquin describes
 the benefits of  the lake and the surrounding area for recreation and wildlife (0-19 min);
some interesting features of old growth forest on the drumlin by the beach (19-32 min);
 life in the lake and possible impacts of further development in the watershed on lake water quality (32- 67 min).

Find out more about the natural history of the area at

The concluding message:  To maintain a healthy Sandy Lake, we need to
(i) plan and  manage already approved new development to minimize impacts on the lake, and
(ii) limit further development within the watershed, especially in the area to the west and southwest of Sandy Lake just above Hammonds Plains Road.

View a few of the slides for a quick overview
of what’s in the talk:

Click on images for larger versions

Drone photo in fall of 2017 looking towards NW side of Sandy Lake reveals expanse of  mature mixed Acadian forest and area clearcut in 2013 in anticipation of new development.

The 2013 clearcut mobilized concerns about  possible impacts of new development on water quality of Sandy Lake and on wildlife habitats and movement corridors.  Others joined the Sandy Lake Conservation Association in expressing concerns and the Sandy Lake- Sackville River Regional Park Coalition was formed in 2017. The goal:  a 2800 acre Regional Park (approx. 1000 acres are  now protected from development).

1800 acres is a “big ask”. Two Major benefits, (i) Recreation. There are already old forestry roads, power line cut and informal trails etc that can accommodate…

…much more use by people in growth centres around the SLSRRP. We need places for people to ‘play’ especially in Covid19 times! 50 years from now Halifax could be 2X its current size, but with no more GreenSpace– we need to conserve as much as possible of what we have now for future generations.

Concept plan for access to the SLSRRP.

The second major benefit is for wildlife. These lands are used as corridors for movement and genetic exchange of plants and animals between the Chebucto Peninsula and the greater NS mainland

The other benefit for wildlife is habitat. It’s a hotspot of biodiversity, both on land in the wetlands and waters. A third major benefit – protection of water quality – is discussed later in the video.

Some of the Acadian Forest on the drumlin by Bedford Lions  Sandy Lake Beach Park. It includes patches of Old Growth

The Pit and Mound topography under Old Growth Hemlock-Yellow Birch has an interesting story to tell.

Some of the recreational activities at Sandy Lake Beach Park

Some of the wildlife dependent on a healthy lake – and forest

In the shallows: wetlands. They filter out excess nutrients carried by streams entering the lake.

Top left: Pickerel Weed close to the major inlet at the SW corner of Sandy Lake soaks up nutrients and traps silts. Bottom right: Bayonet Rush on margins of open lake; it’s a good sign as it is a plant of generally nutrient poor habitats.

Limnological Profiles on Oct 3, 2020. The low oxygen in the deepest water  is a concern. Also Observed on Sep 30, 2019

From the HRM/AECOM Report of 2014. A compilation of data shows that the lake was oligotrophic 50 years ago,  is mesotrophic now and is heading towards eutrophic.

Major problems with the HRM/AECOM conclusion,  based on phosphorus modelling, that significant new development (to accommodate up to 15000 people)  in lands W and SW of Sandy Lake would not harm the lake.

What can happen much more often if we get it wrong!

The profiles revealed a new problem: salt!

A survey of electrical conductivity (a measure of salt content) on Oct 2, 2020. Besides salt itself being a concern, the salt is an indicator of other  anthropogenic inputs.

Conclusion: to maintain a healthy lake, we need to manage already approved new development to minimize impacts on the lake, and to limit further development.

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