TUPPERVILLE, N.S. - Bev Wigney knows about plants and animals and ecosystems. Right now she’s worried about the future of a section of bio-diverse crown forest that’s up for harvest unless residents can convince the Department of Lands and Forestry otherwise.
In a letter to Premier Stephen McNeil she said the proposed harvest is wrong considering the land’s ecological and historic value, and because its alteration is likely to pose considerable risk associated with erosion and water outflow.
She described the forest as a place where people hunt, gather mushrooms, go for walks, or spend time birding and observing nature.
“There is a historic pioneer road along one side, between the forest and Spurr Brook, leading back to an open area known as Haley's Meadow, with a scenic still water where local people go to fish for trout” she told McNeil.
Wigney has described the land as being at the top of a high ridge above Spurr Brook, and overlooking the Annapolis River, roughly across from Belle Isle Marsh to the north.
“It is estimated that the ridge was probably last logged around 1970,” Wigney said. “There are some wonderful large trees up there - quite a few hemlock, and eastern white pine, and a scattering of large white and yellow birch, and a few sugar maple.”
She said most of these large trees would have value mainly for wildlife.
“If the forest at the top is logged off, all of the water currently mitigated by the forest, will have to go somewhere,” she told McNeil in her letter. “Without doubt, it will erode the hillside, sending silt into Spurr Brook, and perhaps much more worrisome, sending outflow down the logging road toward the highway below.”
Wigney, and many others along Highway 201 and in the area in general, have signed a petition asking to halt the proposed Hardwood Hill harvest.
The man behind the petition is local resident Randall Fredericks who hoped to meet with McNeil Dec. 3 about Hardwood Hill. As of Nov. 30 he had about 130 signatures. He and Wigney walked the land together and Wigney documented in photos the trees and other plants, plus the plentiful evidence of wildlife.
“Essentially residents are concerned about especially drinking water quality and flooding issues if the road up to the site is fixed up and it’s cut,” Fredericks said. “It’s slated as a partial harvest at the moment but what has often been the case with partial harvests has been that part of it would be harvested this year, part of it would be harvested next year or a couple of years down the road so that essentially it’s a slow clear cut,” Fredericks said in an interview.
He said there have been major issues from a clear cut on private land by a local resident in 2007-2008 and those problems continue to this day.
“We’re essentially concerned that a large number of people in the community, at least three watersheds, and at least 13 households will experience issues related to this cut,” Fredericks said. “The area has also been used for recreation over the years, especially hunting and fishing – fishing in the adjacent Spurr Brook – which is a concern for sedimentation from the site.”
He said the land consists largely of organic and fine soils.
“It’s not quite the coarse composition that you get on a lot of the South Mountain,” he said. “Even along the trail leading up there’s some erosion that crops up, so our concern is if there is heavy equipment going up and down it all the time, much of the hill will end up being on the 201, which is the adjacent highway, and causing issues for everyone driving up and down the highway as well.”
Wigney asked the premier to scratch Hardwood Hill off the list.
“To prevent risk of erosion-related events and damage, and because this is a place of much ecological and historic value, I ask that you have Hardwood Hill removed from the list of crown land forests approved for harvest,” she said. “The forest is worth more left standing - for the integrity and stabilization of the ridge upon which it stands, and for the welfare of the wildlife and the people who live in this area.”
Fredericks agrees with Wigney.
“Cutting this plot is counterproductive from ecological and cultural standpoints but it is also very likely counterproductive from an economic perspective,” Fredericks said in his own letter to McNeil.
He said that so far the land has been flagged off and it’s been up on the Nova Scotia Harvest Map Viewer but nobody in the community really knew about it until after the comment period had ended. He said it’s not a website people really know about and Internet access is limited in much of Tupperville and Round Hill.
The Department of Lands and Forestry said Fredericks’ letter and petition will be considered during the review and decision-making process for Hardwood Hill’s proposed harvest.