The “Missing Wetlands”

The “Missing Wetlands” illustrate the limitations of relying on desktop studies alone to predict effects of development on Sandy Lake water quality.

NIA1, one of the “Missing Wetlands”
Click on image for larger version

These days we rely heavily on the digital world to guide our actions. With ever-improving  satellite imagery, geographic information available on interactive digital maps gets ever more detailed. Also, more and more of the data accumulated in paper reports over the last 100 years or so get digitized and made readily available. And the models for predicting the values of “missing data” and future trajectories become ever more sophisticated. But there are still limitations and still a need, often not recognized, for on-site inspections and getting up-to-date real data (versus values predicted from models).
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Nov 6, 2020: “Let’s resolve unfinished business by finally protecting Sandy Lake and Sackville River”

Use this webform to tell city councilors we need an expanded park.

From the Sandy Lake-Sackville River regional Park Coalition:

Help us expand the existing park to protect this irreplaceable natural area. Time is running out.

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Halifax Peninsula has something to tell The Burbs about the importance of wetlands and natural stream corridors

A wetland southwest of Sandy Lake, just north of Hammonds Plain Road
Click on image for larger version

An article in HalifaxToday  tells us “Flooding in Halifax [peninsula] shouldn’t be a surprise” as historical maps of the city show it was built over dozens of wetlands, bogs and streams… View
Flooding in Halifax shouldn’t be a surprise, says archaeologist, by Chris Stoodley in Halifax Today Oct 10, 2020

It begins:

After Halifax saw heavy rainfall earlier this week, an archaeologist says people shouldn’t be surprised about flooding.

On Oct. 5, flooding trapped at least one car on the south end of Barrington Street in downtown Halifax.

Jonathan Fowler, a Saint Mary’s University archaeologist, says it’s bound to happen as historical maps of Halifax show numerous brooks, streams, bogs and wetlands running throughout the peninsula.
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For the record: On Sep 22, 2020 Council passed progressive by-law that will help protect lake water quality

Sandy Lake, but not Marsh Lake and Jack Lake receives waters from storm sewers

At a special meeting of Halifax Regional Council on Sep 22, 2020, councillors passed Item No 11.1.4 Grade Alteration By law and Halifax Stormwater Standards for Development Activities.

Said Sackville Rivers Association President Walter Regan in a letter to Mayor and Councillors:

Please vote and pass Item No 11.1.4 Grade Alteration By law and Halifax Stormwater Standards for Development Activities

This new by law will help all of HRM and the environment by keeping the silt out of our local water courses ( including the Sackville River) and water in the ground where it’s needed for ground water recharge and the slow release of clean, cool and clear water to our rivers and lakes.

It will help reduce the capital and maintenance costs of infrastructure.

If done correctly can add to the beautification of local areas, protect wetlands and save our lakes and rivers from pollution and negative impacts from construction and storm water runoff while maintaining natural water cycles.

Will help reduce the negative impacts of Climate Change and local flooding (especially in areas like Bedford and Sackville). Continue reading

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Anticipating Hurricane Teddy & some thoughts about winds and Nova Scotia forests

Pit and Mound topography in hemlock/yellow birch forest by Sandy Lake. Based on the ages of the oldest trees, I  speculate that they were formed following a massive windfall during the Saxby Gale (1869) or the Great Storm (1873).
Click on image for larger version.

Hurricane Teddy is tracking northward and “is expected to impact Atlantic Canada and the Gulf of St. Lawrence region Tuesday and Wednesday as a “very dangerous” post-tropical storm as it moves through the region, bringing strong winds, heavy rain, storm surge and pounding waves” (CBC Sep 19, 2020).

They might have added tree falls (tipovers, windthrows) to that list.

My spouse looks out the window at our urban forest and at a towering tree  on a street one block to the north; she worries that it may fall to the southwest and on our house and asked me what I thought. “I don’t think we have to worry, at least this time around” I said. “Why”, she asked.  I said  “Because  I looked at the tree, it is about 3.5 ft diameter and  looks very healthy;  it has already survived Juan and Dorian and right now it looks as though this storm will not be worse than Dorian and nowhere near Juan in ferocity; and finally, even if the winds blow it over, it is likely to fall towards the west or north and not towards us.

“Why do you think so?” she asked. “I have been thinking about windblown NS forests” I said.    Read more on Nova Scotia Forest Notes

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Trips by Transit’s first “virtual trip” is to the proposed Sandy Lake – Sackville River Regional Park!

Trips By Transit is a K’jipuktuk (Halifax) based community organization that promotes citizens getting out and about in nature without having to own or have ready access to a car, or be limited by lack of familiarity with places to go.

Trips By Transit is a non-profit organization that works towards a world where there are no barriers preventing us from connecting with ourselves, our communities, and the natural world.

TBT offers free public programming and aim to promote a culture of accessibility, inclusivity and mutual respect.

View their website at, their Facebook page at and their Instagram page

For their very first “Trips By Transit Virtual Trip”, they chose to highlight the proposed Sandy Lake – Sackville River Regional Park!

View: Come Hike With Us: Sandy Lake – Sackville River Regional Park
YouTube Video, posted Sep 11, 2020. Continue reading

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Update on Emerald Ash Borer in Bedford Area

In general, white ash exists as a component, not a dominant species in the mixed Acadian forest at Sandy Lake & Environs which may bode well for its survival. View iNaturalist record for this particular

From: Walter Regan <>

District 16 residents, I have received a few inquiries recently regarding the status of the Emerald Ash Borer situation in our DeWolf Park. Below is an update I received this morning from HRM’s Arborist.

“Last year, with the help of the Canadian Food inspection Agency and the Canadian Forest Service we conducted a characterization of the infestation of Emerald Ash Borer in Halifax, focusing on Bedford (ground zero). Unfortunately, our tests and samples indicated that the infestation was farther advanced than we had originally thought back when we began to remove some of the most heavily infested trees in an attempt to slow the spread. At this point, we are choosing to retain the trees as urban canopy until they completely succumb, giving us time to replant before having to loss the existing canopy entirely.

Emerald Ash Borer is an unfortunately pest, with no municipality on the continent successfully managing it. We are somewhat fortunate in Halifax in that we don’t have a particularly large population of Ash trees (whether planted or native) meaning the impact will not be as great. Further, our wet climate seems to permit the trees to live with an infestation much longer than in other parts of the county”.

For context, view:

10 trees to be removed from DeWolf Park after HRM detects Emerald Ash Borer infestation
By Alexander Quon for Global News, May 2, 2019. “Halifax Regional Municipality is removing 10 ash trees in DeWolf Park after they detected an invasive beetle species in the area…The Emerald Ash Borer is a highly destructive invasive species from Asia that has been present in Canada since 2002. However, it was first detected in Nova Scotia last year.”

Forests north of Marsh Lake
Post Oct 4, 2019

– North of Marsh Lake/Big Trees & Ash

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Loons on Sandy Lake lose a chick

Two adult loons, no chick, off of Sandy Lake Beach Park on Aug 3, 2020

Sandy Lake is 74 hectares in area, good for one pair of loons, usually not more and one pair of loons have been observed to nest on Sandy Lake for many years including 2020.*
*Note, Aug 7, 2020: I have been told that in fact there were two pairs of loons nesting at opposite ends of Sandy Lake until about 5 years ago, but subsequently, only one pair. Says Joe Kerekes: “In unproductive lakes in southwest Nova Scotia, such as those in Kejimkujik National Park, loons usually nest only on lakes greater than 40 hectares (100 acres). It is uncommon to find more than two pairs of loons on lakes of less than 80 hectares. During our studies in this region we were unable to find nonbreeding territorial adult pairs on lakes less than 25 hectares. Loons that live on smaller lakes will often fly to larger lakes to feed.” Currently, Sandy Lake can probably be considered moderately productive so area-wise it lies at transition between lakes supporting 1 pair and and lakes supporting 2 pairs of loons.

Chicks hatch about the beginning of July, and two adult loons with one chick were observed on Sandy Lake until recently.

I saw two adults close to shore at Sandy Lake Beach Park a few days ago; I could not see any chicks. I inquired of some local residents and was told that they had seen the two adults with one chick until about 2 weeks ago, but after that the chick was missing and has not been seen since.
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Today is National Parks Day, and we need some good news!

UPDATE JULY 22, 2020: We indeed got some Good News! HRM Council did NOT accept the recommendation of city staff and voted unanimously to approve the $750,000 contribution towards the NS Nature Trust purchase of Connector Lands (see below). I am told over 800 people and groups wrote to council in favour of HRM. That’s impressive. As well, this council has a good record in the relation to the Halifax Green Network Plan – voters will remember that when the fall elections come up.

The Chebucto Peninsula is potentially a highly significant conservation area within NS – but we need to ensure connectivity between Parks and Protected areas within the peninsula and across the peninsula to the mainland to make it so. Click on image for more about the Chebucto Peninsula

Today is our National and Nova Scotia Parks Day. It’s a day to celebrate and reflect on our Parks and Protected Areas (PPA).

CPAWS, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, released its annual Parks Report Healthy Nature Healthy People, yesterday and appeals to Canadians to Take Action and encourage the federal government to “put parks and protected areas at the heart of recovery” from Covid19, noting:

In June the federal government reaffirmed its commitment to protecting 25% of land and ocean by 2025 and 30% by 2030, which is an important step. Now they need to invest in implementing this promise on the ground.

The recent global pandemic has forced us to consider the link between nature, human health, and economic health and to re-think our future. Investing in nature protection as part of recovery will help rebuild a healthier, more equitable and green society and economy.

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Four breeding age female Eastern Painted Turtles were deliberately run over near Marsh Lake

Photo of Eastern Painted Turtle on Wikipedia by Victor Young – New Hampshire Fish and Game Department,

UPDATE Aug 1, 2020: View Turtles facing a tough road across the country
By Staff in Halifax Today, Aug 1, 2020.


One of the special attributes of Sandy Lake & Environs is the presence of three of Nova Scotia’s four freshwater and land turtles – the Eastern Painted Turtle, the Wood Turtle and the Common Snapping Turtle (the 4th, Blanding’s Turtle, is found only in SW Nova Scotia).

All four  turtles are on our endangered species list. So it was with some alarm that a hiker recently found and reported to the NS Turtle Patrol four turtles near Marsh Lake that appeared to have been run over.
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