PUBLIC MEETING: Previously scheduled for January 8, 2020, 6:30pm at the Riverside-Albert Rec Centre has been changed to JANUARY 9, same time/place due forecast snow.
Sometimes we take the permanence of the things we love for granted. This fall, landowners along Route 114 learned that sections of the beloved Shepody Mountain were slated for industrial harvest by J.D. Irving in the spring of 2020. We began talking about what this meant for the continued health of the mountain. There were concerns that tree harvesting, clear-cutting or otherwise, could affect the vistas and creeks, create erosion and more blow-downs, displace the resident wildlife. People were already upset at the encroachment of clear-cutting throughout the province, and wondered what could be done to protect Shepody, which holds special memories for many.
There’s often an attitude of ‘you can’t fight industry’ or ‘government’s gonna do what government’s gonna do’, but statements like this leave people with the false illusion that they’re mired in a place of weakness and powerlessness. There’s always something that can be done, and nothing more satisfying than knowing you’ve been part of positive action to preserve something for the present and future generations. As long as we’re working to protect what’s important, Mary Majka’s legacy lives on in Albert County.
Steps to Protecting Shepody
In late October, Minister Mike Holland announced a Federal/provincial partnership to increase conserved lands in New Brunswick to 10% of the province’s landbase. Minister Holland said that, for the first time, the department was working with long-standing conservation groups in the province to identify potential sites. We contacted him immediately to say Water & Environmental Protection for Albert County (WEPAC) would be submitting a nomination for Shepody Mountain to be protected, but we had some questions and invited him to attend a small meeting with adjacent landowners.
During that meeting, Minister Holland assured those present that increasing protected forest lands and enacting changes to benefit private woodlot owners were key objectives. He also added that Shepody Mountain was the first nomination received by his department and we had his wholehearted support.
Following this meeting, WEPAC submitted our formal request to protect 700 hectares of Crown Land on Shepody Mountain under the Canada Pathway to Target 1 program. We have a number of the following factors working in our favour, but the first is critically important for success:
Community support: Quantifying the level of community support is essential, so we’re soliciting letters of support from local organizations and groups. We’re also circulating a petition to be presented in the Legislature in February. As well, Minister Holland said that it’s particularly impactful when individuals send a brief personal email or phone call, indicating their support for the nomination and why. “It doesn’t have to be formal or long,” he said. “Just a few personal words will suffice.”
Connectivity: When Crown lands are situated close to other protected areas, this improves the connectivity and chances for wildlife corridors between them. Shepody Mountain is in close proximity to Caledonia Gorge Natural Protected Area, Ducks Unlimited protected marshlands, and Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park. As well, the marine environment is designated as protected by DFO. If the neighbouring private landowners are also committed to sustainable harvesting, this gives greater effectiveness to the protected lands, as they’re surrounded by healthy, vibrant forests.
Cultural connection: Shepody Mountain is a solid presence in our community. These are traditional Mi’kmaq lands and the first Acadian settlement was at its base. It’s a visible landmark and many locals feel an emotional and generational connection to it. Some hunt on its slopes, others hike, bike, ski or snowshoe it regularly. We’re collecting short stories and memories that illustrate this connection.
Sensitive landscape & imminent threat: The impact of industrial harvest on Shepody would be profound, and the pending cuts add a sense of the urgency to the nomination. The threat of erosion and impacts on waterways (Hamilton and Chemical Creeks, Daniels and Tingley Brooks, plus other unnamed creeks and brooks) and the downstream impact on the marshes is significant, particularly as our climate changes and rain/wind events increase.
- PUBLIC MEETING: Previously scheduled for January 8, 2020, 6:30pm at the Riverside-Albert Rec Centre has been changed to JANUARY 9, same time/place due forecast snow. We’ll talk about the nomination itself, the process for protection, and latest updates.
- CONTACT YOUR MLA: Send a letter or email of support for the nomination to Mike Holland, or call and tell him yourself. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org; office# 856-4961.
- PETITION: Sign a petition to support the nomination, or help us collect signatures. You can download the petition here and canvas your own neighbourhood, then return to one of our drop-off locations (noted on the petition) BEFORE JANUARY 31, 2020. Petitions will be placed at the following locations for signing: Crooked Creek Convenience (Riverside-Albert) or Cooke’s Quik Mart or Irving (Hillsborough), or Fundy General Store (Alma)
- SHARE A SHORT STORY or MEMORY: Write a short story or memory of Shepody that illustrates your connection to it or experience on it…maybe a special hike, or family memory, a snippet of history or how, when you crest the hill at the Hopewell Rocks and see its forested slopes, it signals that you’re almost home. Leave it in the comments below, or send your stories to email@example.com
- TELL SOMEONE: Talk about this to others who may not have internet access.
- SHARE ONLINE: Share news on social media and get the conversation going!
- FOLLOW OUR PROGRESS: Check our Facebook page for updates on our progress, or contact us to see how you can help or get on our mailing list at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If Shepody is approved for low-impact, multi-use protection, it could be another gem on the string of beautiful icons along the Fundy Coast…an accomplishment made even more special in celebration of our 175th anniversary in 2020.