New provincial park for New France

Province’s releases proposed protection plan

Jonathan Riley, Digby Courier
Published on March 1, 2013

[ UPDATED: March 2, 2013 5:30 p.m. Added public sessions to bottom of article ]

[RELATED: Fixing up New France - a column about a recent hike to Electric City and plans by the Weymouth Waterfront Development Committee to promote the site ]

The province is offering to protect thousands of acres of Digby County wilderness and to establish a new provincial park around one of the county’s most remote and historical sites.

The Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources released its proposed plan for expanding Nova Scotia’s system of protected areas on Thursday, Feb. 28.

That plan includes a new 86 ha provincial park reserve at New France, back in the woods about 30 km southeast of Weymouth.

New France was the site of the Stehlin family settlement, known as Electric City, founded in the 1890s. They had electricity 30 years before the other communities in the area. Today nothing remains but the foundations of the buildings.

Irving used to own that land and used to have interpretive signage there. The parking lot, trails and footbridges from the Irving park are still evident.

The site surrounds Silver Lake and borders on the north shore of Langford Lake and the southern shore of Little Tusket Lake.

The province is also proposing protection for 8,473 ha of adjacent land, some of which is in Digby County and some in Yarmouth County. The new Silver River wilderness area would protect rivers, lakes and forests in the headwaters of the Tusket River including the Silver and Carleton Rivers.

According to DNR’s profile sheet, the area represents the “best remaining opportunity to create a representative protected area in the Tusket River drumlins natural landscape.”

The plan also calls for a 12,420 ha expansion of the Tobeatic wilderness area, which straddles Annapolis, Digby, Shelburne, Queens and Yarmouth Counties.

They are also proposing a 1,734 ha wilderness area at Blackadar Brook (between Lower Concession and Wentworth Lake), a 1,205 ha wilderness area around Sissiboo Falls and a 951 ha wilderness area around Porcupine Lake.

They are proposing three nature reserves: at Hectanooga Cedar Swamp (124 ha), at Wentworth Lake (52 ha) and in Tiddville (30 ha).

DNR’s plan says that wilderness areas protect nature and support wilderness recreation, hunting, sport fishing, trapping, and other uses.

Nature reserves offer the highest level of protection for unique or rare species or features; they are used mainly for education and research.

Provincial parks and reserves protect a wide range of heritage values and opportunities for outdoor recreation, nature-based education, and tourism.

The plan is the province’s roadmap for meeting its goal of protecting at least 12 per cent of Nova Scotia by 2015. This plan would see 13.7 per cent of the province of protected.

Currently the province protects 500,000 ha and under this plan that would increase to 758,000 ha – though it is important to note that 50,000 ha are listed as conditional – meaning the province has yet to secure the property or there are outstanding mineral or petroleum rights on those properties.

The plan would create four new parks province-wide, 44 new wilderness areas (totalling 126,000 ha) and 120 new nature reserves (totalling 34,000 ha).

The province is asking Nova Scotians to review the plan and submit feedback before May 1.

More information and a link to a PDF of the plan are available online at .

The DNR website also includes an interactive map showing all the proposed protected areas and providing links to profile sheets.

[RELATED: Fixing up New France - a column about a recent hike to Electric City and plans by the Weymouth Waterfront Development Committee to promote the site ]

The Department of Natural resources will hold three public sessions in the area.

All three run from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Staff will be on hand to answer any questions on the proposed plan and the public can also provide comments directly through these sessions.

Thursday, March 14 in Cornwallis at the Annapolis Basin Conference Centre, 761 Broadway Avenue, Cornwallis Park

Wednesday, March 13 in Yarmouth at the Yarmouth Rodd Grand Hotel, 417 Main Street

Monday, April 8 in French in Pointe-de-l'Église, Universite Sainte-Anne, 1695 Hwy 1