Environment featured

Letter: A meeting request from the Moose Country Blockade

Moose Country blockade encampment. Photo Facebook

November 11, 2020

Dear Minister Mombourquette,

Congratulations on your recent appointment as Minister of Lands and Forestry.

As spokesperson for the group of citizens currently blocking access for logging equipment to an area of Crown Land in Digby County, I am requesting you meet with me and two other people knowledgeable about mainland moose and the impacts of forestry as soon as possible. We will be happy to meet in person or by video-conference.

I spoke with Donna Hurlburt, Manager of Biodiversity at the department, on November 7th. I understand she has filled you in on our concerns. To summarize, we have been blocking the logging road that accesses proposed cut areas on Crown land near Birch and Rocky Point Lakes, south of Fourth Lake, since October 21st. We are prepared to continue doing so. We have taken this action as a direct result of your government’s delay in implementing the Lahey report’s recommendations and its failure to protect the endangered mainland moose as required by law.

Donna Hurlburt assures me that work is progressing on the mainland moose recovery plan and core habitat definitions. The fact remains, however, that the Department of Lands and Forestry is allowing logging in an area where moose are frequently present. If we had not blocked access to the area around Rocky Point Lake when we did, it is likely that the 500 acres (200Ha) approved for Variable Retention 10 and 30% harvests would have already been cut. The expansion and extension of the logging road deeper into what had been intact habitat makes it clear the cuts approved a year ago were going ahead.

There are even-aged harvests underway on the Crown lands to the south of us, between the Silver River Wilderness Area and the Tobeatic Wilderness Area. This area has already been subjected to extensive cutting, including a 720 acre (290Ha) clearcut. New cuts are reaching ever closer to the Tobeatic. Connectivity between the Wilderness areas is being destroyed.

We are asking for an immediate halt to all logging activities on the Crown lands bounded by Fourth Lake Flowage to the north, the Tobeatic Wilderness Area to the east, the Napier river to the south and a combination of the Silver River Wilderness Area and private lands to the west. This suspension of logging approvals should be accompanied by an independent review by biologists to establish best management practices for the area with the primary goal of protecting mainland moose and establishing the core habitat necessary for their recovery.

It is obvious from numerous conversations with hunters and others who stop by our camp that we are in historic moose habitat. You should know that the vast majority of our visitors say they are 100% supportive of our action. When we show them the cuts your department approved for the area, they are horrified. These cut areas include exactly the multi-aged, multi-species forests that are needed by moose but are becoming ever less available under the current regime of destructive and outmoded industrial forestry.

If mainland moose are to recover, we need to give them more, not less, habitat so that they can sustain larger populations. Those habitats must be based on what moose need to survive. Any discussion of moose habitat must be ecosystem based. Tweaking current inadequate protections while accommodating the forestry industry will not be enough.

Your government, Minister Mombourquette, has committed to implementing the Lahey report’s recommendations. Foundational to these is this statement from the executive summary:  “I have concluded that protecting ecosystems and biodiversity should not be balanced against other objectives and values as if they were of equal weight or importance to those other objectives or values. Instead, protecting and enhancing ecosystems should be the objective (the outcome) of how we balance environmental, social, and economic objectives and values in practising forestry in Nova Scotia.”

Had your government acted on this in a timely way, and had your government fulfilled its obligations under the Endangered Species Act, we would not be in the situation we are in now. Citizens would not be preparing to camp on a logging road through the winter. Your government would not be embarrassed by the extensive media coverage we have received.

I hope that, in your new role as Minister of Lands and Forestry, you will signal a change of direction for the department by halting logging in the area in question so that the fate of this piece of crown land can mark a new approach, one in which protecting and enhancing ecosystems is the overarching objective. Nova Scotians across the province will applaud you.

I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience,

Nina Newington
Extinction Rebellion Nova Scotia

See also: Open letter to Iain Rankin: “How are voters to trust you with a record like that?”

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