The NW Pinch Point

Pinch-points (also known as bottlenecks or choke-points) are areas where animal and plant movement is funneled through narrow linkages. Pinch-point modeling methods are based on current flow models from electrical circuit theory. Locations where current is very strong indicates constrictions where linkages are most vulnerable to being severed… Pinch-points can be the result of both natural and human-made landscape features. Pinch-points may be conservation priorities as they are locations where loss of a small area could disproportionately compromise connectivity because alternative movement routes are unavailable. Loss of these areas may sever migration routes or impact other important movement needs.”*
*Source (with minor modifications) Washington Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Working Group—>Columbia Plateau Ecoregion Addendum: Habitat Connectivity Centrality, Pinch-Points, and Barriers/Restoration Analyses

One such pinch point in the proposed Sandy Lake-Sackville River Regional Park lies at its NW corner where there is only a narrow band of undeveloped or minimally developed land bordering the Sackville River.

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The Marsh Lake Dyke

Views of the dyke

I had viewed Marsh Lake from south of the lake  in 2017, but it wasn’t until Oct 9, 2019 that I walked some of the northern shore. I did so with a friend, Bob K.,  from the NS Wild Flora Society.

We got there via a powerline to the north, passing through hemlock dominated forest as we proceeded south down the slope of a large drumlin.

As we approached the lake, we entered into some low lying damp forest and then, just before we reached the marsh that borders the lake, we encountered what seemed to a be a dyke or levee.

It is 2-3 m wide;  on the marsh side it rises up about 2 meters from the wet marsh, on the forest side about a meter from the forest floor and supports some very big white pine and hemlock… Read more

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Forest north of Marsh Lake

Glimpses of forest north Marsh Lake in 2017
from the area where Perverill’s Brook
enters Marsh Lake.
Click on images for larger versions

Forests north of Marsh Lake were on my bucket list to investigate from the time I caught my first glimpses of them in 2017 (photos at right). They looked to be magnificent mixed Acadian forest.

On Sep 20 and 22, 2019, I walked a few routes into forest on a large drumlin just south of the Sackville River, accessed via a powerline.

I chose those particular areas because, as well as having ‘the area north of Marsh Lake’ on my bucket list,  I wanted to check out a report that there were/are ‘some magnificent ash trees’ in that area, or words to that effect.

I was hardly disappointed. I found some of those magnificent ash trees – and a lot of magnificent specimens of other species including many of eastern hemlock, red maple, sugar maple, yellow birch, and red spruce that qualify as “Big Trees” (trees 20”, or 0.5 m, diameter at breast height and greater).

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A salmon jumped right out of the water in Sandy Lake!

Modified Sep 27, 2019

About 10 days ago, a salmon was sighted in a “classic pose” jumping right out of the water at Sandy Lake.

I am told that grilse have been caught over the last two years – as by-catch of fishing for small mouth bass; they are returned.

As I was told the story 2nd or 3rd hand and reported initially, I understood that the fish observed jumping was an older salmon, but that stands corrected. Says the Observer: “I’m certain it was a grilse—not an adult salmon. It jumped clear of the water and I happened to be looking in that direction and saw it in perfect profile. After having fished the diminishing stocks of NS rivers for years I’ve spent a lot of time scanning the water for signs of these fish and a with a clear, clean leap it’s easy to recognize the species.

Peverill’s Brook close to where it flows into
Marsh Lake. The “digger log’ was installed by
the Sackville Rivers Association in 2012.
Pic on Aug 17, 2017.
Click on image for larger version.

Regardless, it is good news, and reflects the efforts of the Sackville River Association to re-establish salmon in the Sackville River system. Those efforts have included placing digger logs on Peverill’s Brook.

It also says something good about the habitat and water quality of Sandy Lake.

Welcome Home, Atlantic Salmon!

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Tues Sep 24 2019 at 6PM at Halifax City Hall: Important Public Hearing on Green Network Plan – re Wildlife Corridors

UPDATE Wed Sep 25, 2019: The Amendment “to the Regional Plan’s conservation design development agreement policies to specifically reference the Important and Essential Corridors shown on Map 5)”  received unanimous approval at yesterdays meeting of Halifax Regional Council!!!!   Walter Regan (Sackville Rivers Association), Karen Robinson (Sandy Lake Conservation Association),  David Patriquin (Sandy Lake-Sackville Regional Park Alliance/NS Wild Flora Society)  and Kathleen Hall (Backlands Coalition/Williams Lake Conservation Co,) spoke at the Public Hearing. View DocsSep24_2019toRegionalCouncil (submissions by David P & SLSRPCoalition)


Map 5 in the Halifax Green Network Plan
Click on image for larger version and legend

Halifax (HRM) is blessed with phenomenal natural assets. In June of 2018, Regional Council tabled the Final Draft of the The Halifax Green Network Plan  which “provides land management and community design direction to:
– maintain ecologically and culturally important land and aquatic systems;
– promote the sustainable use of natural resources and economically important open spaces; and
– identify, define and plan land suited for parks and corridors”
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Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019: Public engagement on the Bedford-Sackville Greenway Corridor

From HRM:

Join us in the first round of public engagement to let us know about your experience using the Bedford-Sackville Greenway Corridor!

Information on facility usage, user experience and priorities will be collected to aid in the development of route alignment concepts for the extensions of the greenway facility and to inform on how the existing sections of the corridor can be improved.

Location: Sunnyside Mall, Unit 158

Date: Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019 Time: 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

If you cannot attend and would still like to provide your feedback, please complete the survey at:

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Water quality issue at Sandy Lake Bedford has subsided (Aug 9, 2019)

Friday a.m. at Sandy Lake Beach

Whatever it was, “it” has largely subsided.

“It” appeared at Sandy Lake Beach quite suddenly on Tuesday a.m. Aug 6, 2019

On Wed a.m., Aug 7, HRM took water samples and put up a No Swimming sign; a Risk Advisory was issued later in the day.

At 1:54 p.m.on Thursday Aug 8., the Risk advisory for Sandy Lake was lifted

I looked at the beach area this a.m. (Friday Aug 9, 2019), and indeed there was no longer the bubbly scum where the water meets the shore, and no wafts of suspended material drifting in as observed on Tuesday.

There was still some debris around and walking through the water still left a trail of bubbles, but not as pronounced as it had been on Wednesday. So “it” has subsided.

It’s still not completely clear what caused “it”, it being, apparently or possibly, a bloom of diatoms – that’s according to info forwarded by Councillor Tim Outhit, received from Cemeron Deacoff (Water Resources Specialist, Planning and Decelopment, HRM) on Thurs, Aug. 8:

We received the lab results late yesterday afternoon that the specimens identified in the lab were principally diatoms (a form of algae), with trace amounts of one species of cyanobacteria that does not produce any toxins. Correspondingly, staff (i.e., P&D Acting Director Eric Lucic) has approved lifting the PSA. Corporate Communications is now drafting that PSA…

‘Very grateful for HRM’s quick attention to “it”!

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Advisory issued for Sandy Lake due to possible blue-green algae bloom Aug 7, 2019

UPDATE 2:35 pm, Thurs Aug 8, 2019: Risk advisory for Sandy Lake lifted

“When an algae bloom is observed, a risk advisory is issued and initial testing is done to determine whether the algae bloom is toxin producing. If the algae bloom is not toxin producing, the risk advisory will be lifted and no further testing is required.

“If the algae bloom is toxin producing, further testing will be carried out and the risk advisory will remain in effect until blooms have disappeared and post-bloom test results indicate water is within safe limits.”

and earlier, from info forwarded by Councillor Tim Outhit, received from Cemeron Deacoff (Water Resources Specialist, Planning and Decelopment, HRM):

We received the lab results late yesterday afternoon that the specimens identified in the lab were principally diatoms (a form of algae), with trace amounts of one species of cyanobacteria that does not produce any toxins. Correspondingly, staff (i.e., P&D Acting Director Eric Lucic) has approved lifting the PSA. Corporate Communications is now drafting that PSA…


Original post (Aug 6, 2019)

Received this afternoon:

Public Service Announcement
Risk advisory in effect for Sandy Lake due to possible blue-green algae bloom

Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019 (Halifax, NS) – The Halifax Regional Municipality is advising residents that due to the presence of a possible blue-green algae bloom, a risk advisory is in effect for Sandy Lake in Bedford. Residents are encouraged to avoid swimming in the lake until further notice.

Sandy Lake Beach, which is a supervised beach, will also be closed to swimming until further notice.

Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) is naturally occurring in freshwater environments and may become visible when weather conditions are calm. These organisms can multiply rapidly during the summer, leading to extensive growth called a bloom. Some types of blue-green algae produce toxins during blooms and when these blooms decay, the toxins may be released into the water, posing a risk to people and pets.

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Sandy Lake inundated by unpleasant, suspended, reddish, soapy material Aug 6, 2019; and lake level falling quickly

Sandy Lake Beach at 11:13 am on Aug 6, 2019
Click on images for larger versions

I happened to be at Sandy Lake Beach Park on the morning of Aug 6, 2019, shortly after the beach area was inundated with an unpleasant suspended, reddish, soapy material.

It wasn’t there when the lifegurads first arrived. They told me they first noticed it about 10:40; a lifeguard noted that one of the kids in her swim lesson group “looked like the joker from Batman because he had a brown line around his jaw as we had been treading water and his face was in the water at that level, then I noticed it on one of the other kids and as we moved in shallower, the kids noticed all over my back. At about 10:50 we pulled all of the kids out of the water”.

I asked when they (the lifeguards) got there- 9:45 a.m., and “It wasn’t here then, and we were in the water at 10 and there was none of it then.”
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Guided walks at Sandy Lake Sun June 16 and Sun July 14, 2019

“The incredible Sandy Lake (Bedford) and surrounding forest is an oasis in the city. Come and discover the area’s mature forests, lakes, and hiking opportunities. More wilderness could be protected here if only more people knew about the area’s conservation value, and what it will take to keep it wild.

“Join us for a 3 hour guided hike on the informal trails of the Jack Lake side (owned by Halifax Regional Municipality) of the proposed Sandy Lake – Sackville River Regional Park, where we’ll talk about and see the land that could be protected to bring the vision of a Sandy Lake – Sackville River Regional Park to fruition. You’ll also have a chance to learn about the plants, mosses, lichens, birds, insects, and more that inhabit the area.”

Poster – click on image to enlarge

These hikes are co-hosted by the Ecology Action Centre, the Sandy Lake Conservation Association, and the Sandy Lake – Sackville River Regional Park Coalition.

Read more and register on EAC Website

(Cost: Free, but please register as space is limited)

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