Nova Scotia now has six new nature reserves and eight expanded wilderness areas, including the newly designated Sackville Wilderness Area. The new nature reserves and wilderness areas represent 9,300 hectares of protected land in the province.

The province made the announcement on Monday at the Springfield Lake Recreation Centre in Upper Sackville. Walter Regan, former president of the Sackville Rivers Association, was on hand for the announcement and said he was “ecstatic” about the news about the Sackville Wilderness Area. Regan has been lobbying since 2013 to protect that area, which consists of 800 hectares (2,000 acres) of land. He said it’s the first park of its kind for Upper Sackville.

“The 70,000 people that live near the Sackville River now have a wilderness park,” Regan said. “If you look at a map of Sackville in your mind, on one end, you have Second Lake saved, 800 acres. You have the hopefully expanded park at Sandy Lake in Bedford, which is now 1,000 acres, we’re trying to get 2,800. And topping that off, at the top end is Upper Sackville, the Sackville Wildnerness Area. The people of Sackville and HRM are the winners here.” 

Five people stand behind a large map with green and yellow areas noted on it.
Walter Regan, centre, during a presentation about protection of the Sackville Wilderness Area in Middle Sackville on Dec. 12, 2022. Also pictured are from left, Bonnie Sutherland, executive director of the Nova Scotia Nature Trust, Justice Minister and MLA for Sackville-Uniacke Brad Johns, Environment Minister Tim Halman, and Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture and MLA for Sackville-Cobequid, Steve Craig. Credit: Contributed

In a press release about the announcement, Environment Minister Tim Halman said the protection of the new nature reserves and wilderness areas “takes us one step forward in our government’s work to protect 20% of our land and water by 2030.” The new designations bring the total amount of land saved to 13%.

“Government cannot achieve this goal alone, and there is still lots of work ahead of us,” Halman said in the release. “The funding announced today will help our land conservation partners continue their important work and leadership. Together we will help ensure a sustainable and healthy future for our province, our people and our economy.”

‘Eight years of lobbying coming to fruition’

Regan said there were several factors that make the Sackville Wildnerness Area special, including the Sackville River drumlins, several stands of old growth trees, and wetlands. The area is also a wildlife corridor between the Sackville River and Shubenacadie River.

“It will also save the habitat for wild Atlantic salmon,” Regan said of the protection of the area. “It will help reduce flooding in Bedford because it will keep the chainsaws and bulldozers out from making hard surface. It will save important wetlands. It will help with climate change mitigation by saving wetlands and keeping the old trees there standing, the carbon tied up. It will save important eel habitat. It will save a lot of turtle nesting areas. And for me personally, it will mean eight years of lobbying coming to fruition. It’s just tremendous to be a part of.”

The other new nature reserves and wilderness areas, include:

  • Barneys River Nature Reserve
  • Big Meadow Brook Nature Reserve
  • Cherry Hill Beach Nature Reserve
  • Glendyer Nature Reserve
  • Les Caps Nature Reserve
  • Porcupine Brook Nature Reserve
  • Eastern Shore Islands Wilderness Area expansion
  • Economy River Wilderness Area expansion
  • Eigg Mountain – James River Wilderness Area expansion
  • Medway Lakes Wilderness Area expansion
  • Middle River – Framboise Wilderness Area expansion
  • Portapique River Wilderness Area expansion
  • Wentworth Valley Wilderness Area expansion

‘We have to get to that 20% of Nova Scotia saved’

Regan said the Sackville Wilderness Area was overlooked for protection for some time. He credits Coun. Lisa Blackburn and the Nova Scotia Chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society for supporting the Sackville Rivers Association work to call for protection. Chris Miller, executive director of CPAWS-NS, said in a news release “today is a day to celebrate.”

“The communities of Upper Sackville and Beaver Bank have been waiting a long time for this new protected area to happen,” Miller said. “We are so happy that it is finally done and that this important natural area is now officially established as a legally-designated wilderness area.”

Regan said there’s still more work to be done, though, including expanding the wilderness area by saving more Crown land. He added that for now, the park will stay “as is,” although there could be a trail system developed there in a future.

“We got this park, but now we have to get up to the next one. We have to get to that 20% of Nova Scotia saved,” Regan said.

“One hundred years from now, no one will know who Walter Regan is, but our great grandchildren will walk through there.”  

Suzanne Rent is a writer, editor, and researcher. You can follow her on Twitter @Suzanne_Rent and on Mastodon

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