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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Five Bridge Lakes

Posted By on Wed, Mar 18, 2009 at 5:13 PM

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I’ve been quite critical of the provincial government for failing to meet legal targets established in the much-lauded Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act. There is, however, one goal that seems to be on tract: the requirement that 12 percent of the province be given wilderness protection by 2015.

Rodney MacDonald’s government has made tremendous strides in this direction, and especially so in the Halifax area. In the past couple of years, two large wild areas---the 14,000-hectare Ship Harbour Long Lake area northeast of Musquodoboit, and the 1,750-hectare Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes area behind the Bayers Lake Industrial Park---were given “candidate” status, starting them down the bureaucratic road to full protection.

A third chunk of land needs similar protection. The 9,800-hectare Five Bridge Lakes Wilderness Area sits squat in the middle of the Chebucto peninsula, just a 15-minute drive from downtown, and contains some 30 lakes and stretches of the Woodens, Nine Mile and Prospect rivers.

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To get a sense of the place, you can hike the Bluff Wilderness Trail (directions here) which is as rough, difficult and spectacular hike as you’ll find in Nova Scotia. Over 30 kilometres in length, the trail’s four loops will take you through hardwood and old growth red pine forests and atop granite outcrops that overlook the lakes.

The trail was built by the Woodens River Watershed Environmental Organization, one of 35 groups that make up the Chebucto Peninsula Wilderness Coalition, which is spearheading efforts to protect the area. The coalition has had remarkable success lining up support for the initiative from all three political parties, from the HRM and from nearby community groups.

Now they need your help. WRWEO is having its annual meeting this Wednesday, March 27, 7pm at the Tantallon library. Plant ecologist Nick Hall will give a presentation on Five Bridge Lakes. Anyone is welcome to attend, at no cost. But just 10 bucks gets you membership in WRWEO and helps fund the wilderness effort.

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