Brier Island’s Big Meadow history and conservation project

Jonathan Riley, Digby Courier
Published on March 8, 2014

“You could fall into a ditch – not much fun.”

“Nothing much (in the winter) just a way to Pond Cove and back home with twenty ducks.”

“It was soft, you had to watch where you walked – there were humps in the ground.”

Those are a  few of the recollections of Big Meadow on Brier Island from islanders recently interviewed by Gulf of Maine Institute youths under the guidance of Roger Outhouse.

The interviews are one piece of a larger project looking at the current state and history of Big Meadow to conserve the eastern mountain avens, an endangered plant that grows there but nowhere else in the world except for much smaller numbers on Digby Neck and two places in New Hampshire.

It may not be well known, but the eastern mountain avens is in fact one of the most endangered plants in Canada. The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is leading a project to help change this.

“The kids arranged interviews with long-time residents on Brier Island,” says Outhouse. “The vegetation in Big Meadow has changed significantly over the years and the memories and knowledge of those locals is important in understanding the plant and how we can to protect it.”

The Gulf of Maine Institute is one of the partners in the NCC project which also includes studying water quality and quantity in Big Meadow, the soils, the biology of the plant, and how the change in vegetation over the years is impacting the presence of the avens.

The three-year project will enable planning and management to ensure the plant remains present and healthy on Brier.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada is hosting an open house at the Westport Community Hall on Wednesday, March 19 at 7 p.m.

Outhouse will do a presentation on the interesting stories and facts coming out of the interviews. As well, there will be a presentation describing the ecology of Big Meadow and the eastern mountain avens and the three-year project to ensure its protection.

For further information contact Doug van Hemessen, 902-405-4334 or