#SaveTheMainlandMoose - April 2022 On-Location Reports
South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

Day 150 Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Camp: April 30, 2022 - South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

Sign: Save Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Logging road and bridge

Last Saturday, two people saw a Pine marten on the first of the two bridges as you come in to camp. No time for a photograph, but no doubt about the identification. One of those people, Randy Neily, is a long time hunter and trapper.

This wasn't a total surprise as Randy had recorded seeing Pine marten tracks in the snow a couple of years ago. Those tracks were within the proposed cut block by Beal's Brook.

When we set up camp back in December, we drew attention to the importance of this forest to three endangered species, the Mainland moose, the Wood turtle and the Pine marten. (We didn't know then about the three endangered Iichen species found here.)

The Department of Natural Resources and Renewables was quick to point out that the Pine marten was only listed as endangered in Cape Breton. However, when the recent sighting was reported to DNRR's wildlife division, we learned that the Pine marten is about to be listed as officially endangered in mainland Nova Scotia too.

So there is the good news/bad news. The Pine marten is endangered, but at least he government is recognizing that fact. Will that translate into any action to improve the chances that Pine marten populations can recover?

The biggest threat to many endangered species is habitat loss and fragmentation. Pine marten need old forest. That's where they live. Which is tough because the forestry industry wants old forests. Guess who has been winning?

Look closely at the photograph of the bridge where the marten was seen. See the shorter trees in the distance? That was all clearcut six or seven years ago. Now look in the foreground. There's a corner of another more recent clearcut. The band of older trees in between? That's the buffer the loggers are required to leave along a stream. Twenty whole metres. Much of which will blow down when newly exposed to wind. Biologists are clear 20m is inadequate. Lahey called for a review of the buffer zones along waterways. Nothing has happened. Tough luck, wildlife.

One last look at that photograph. See the nice fresh gravel? This bridge and the one closest to camp were rebuilt so the logs could be hauled out of the forest we are protecting. You know, the last remnant of old forest left standing in this sea of clearcuts. This last haven for endangered species. Where else are marten going to live? They can't wait 80 years for clearcuts to become mature forests.

In 1958, a quarter of all forests in Nova Scotia were 80 years old or older. Now that figure is between 1 and 5%.

There is an area of old, intact forest left to the north and east of Beal's Brook. It is still standing because it is hard to get to and some local people kept it that way. WestFor has plans to build a road into it. If the government is serious about protecting not just the Pine marten but all the species that depend on old forests, it will stop harvesting the last remaining bits of old forest on "crown" land. That means forests like Last Hope with trees 80 years old or older are automatically taken off the chopping block and placed under consideration for protection.

If the government won't protect the habitat of species at risk, citizens will have to. Join us at Last Hope for bioblitzes tomorrow and Monday. Watch our facebook page for more workshops as we educate ourselves on identifying endangered species and protecting their homes.

Msit no'koma. These are all our relations. In protecting them we are protecting ourselves and our shared home.

Day 144 Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Camp: April 24, 2022 - South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

Sign over brook: We Are on Unceded Mi'kmaw land

We were honoured that Mi'kmaw Grassroots Grandmother Dorene Bernard came to our camp today. Time spent visiting before and after the Water Ceremony felt good.

There is such a profound contrast between the love, respect and gratitude shown to water and to all life in Ceremony versus the way "natural resources" are treated by the Department entrusted with their care. If we want a livable planet it is time to listen to the wisdom of Indigenous peoples. It is time to listen to nature.

The Water Ceremony took place on the second bridge, the bridge over Beal's Brook closest to camp. Yesterday two people coming to camp saw a pine marten as they were crossing the first bridge. Although we are assured by the Wildlife Division of DNRR that the Pine marten is only endangered in Cape Breton, no-one seems to know how many there are in mainland Nova Scotia. They depend on old forests so it is a seems unlikely that they are thriving.

Another good reason to protect
the 80 year old forest at Last Hope.

Day 141 Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Camp: April 21, 2022 - South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

three people chatting

Protecting the forest at Beal's Brook for 20 weeks and counting. Why?
Because enough is enough.

Because so little is left of the forests that once covered this land.
Because our last hope is to protect the wild and change the way we treat nature.
It was time to draw a line in the sand.
We are not going anywhere.

So many have stepped up to camp and to support. Thank you!

Man smiling Mother and daughter with armsful of firewood Woman with backpack

Visitors' Report: More from Day 137 Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Camp: April 17, 2022 - South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

Bioblitz lichen finding Bioblitz lichen finding

Report and photos by Laurinda Richard
My partner Mike and I spent the day at Last Hope Camp, we answered the call for assistance in doing a citizen Bio Blitz and walked the proposed cut block in search of rare lichens. The endangered species of these minute life forms seem to be the actual "Last Hope" for this small area of Old Forest.

The lichens on a whole are very abundant, however the known species that are endangered are very rare. Until these rare lichens were discovered by caring citizens taking time to walk and search this old forest, the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and Renewables were unaware of their existence. Now it has been confirmed by their own Biologists rare lichens are in this old forest / proposed cut block.

A big hand of applause to citizens helping, as just yesterday an additional two occurrences of the rare lichen was found within this same proposed cut block. We all hope for a cancelation of this harvest.The world of lichens is magical, and they play an important role in the forest ecology — otherwise they would not exist.

Their role is not fully understood yet, however all things in nature are connected, and we too are connected to nature. What a moment to walk in this beautiful forest with the mosses underfoot, to breathe in the sweet aromas and clean air, to hear a Pileated woodpecker scolding us as we meandered from tree to tree, to see a Chickadee silently watching us, turning his head from side to side.

I can only imagine the thoughts going through these wild creatures' minds as they watch us unseen. I hope they understand we are trying to save their home.

Bioblitz lichen finding

Day 137 Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Camp: April 17, 2022 - South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

Woman identifies lichens in forest Woman looking for lichen in forest Mayflowers in the forest close-up of big tree's bark

"At every opportunity, humans need to feel the power, order, beauty and greater life force of the natural world, to remember that our survival depends on us fitting into it, to remember that when we fight for nature, we are on the big team."
Alexandra Morton, Not On My Watch

After Thursday's tour through nearby clearcuts, it was balm to spend the day in the Last Hope forest, looking for — and finding — more Species at Risk lichens.

Mayflowers, Pileated Woodpeckers and More Species-at-Risk Lichens
We were looking for some lichens in particular, but we saw so much more. Saw and heard and felt and smelt. Yes, the very first Mayflowers were blooming. They merited kneeling on the mossy earth and inhaling the sweet breath of a tiny flower. All the while a pileated woodpecker hammered away. Nature's demolition expert breaks down dead and rotting trees chunk by chunk in the course of finding lunch.

Like the rare lichens we've been finding, pileated woodpeckers need old, undisturbed forests. The oaks at Last Hope are not huge and spectacular. The pines are bigger, but they grow fast. This is not the kind of forest people compare to a cathedral. But the more time you spend in it, the more you feel and see the complexity of it. The sheer variety of mosses, for example. What you are experiencing is a forest that has seen very little disturbance over the last 80 years.

Reading the Forest
In January, after the first endangered lichens were discovered at Last Hope, Linda Pannozzo interviewed Brad Toms of the Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute about the finds: According to Toms, lichenologists and ecologists are often able to "read the forest." He says an important common characteristic among the habitat of the three lichen species identified at Beals Brook is what he calls "site permanence."

"Whether upland or forested wetland these sites consistently seem to be sites that have not had any major disturbance in a long time in the area around the lichen host tree. So while not "old growth" by provincial definition, these are forests that have been allowed to be in a natural climax state for an extended period of time possibly even longer than "old growth" forest with longer-lived species."

Toms says that when forests have a major disturbance (natural or anthropogenic) the lichen diversity usually takes a hit and is "often altered for a long time and takes likely on the scale of a hundred years (or more) to be restored."
Last Hope Moose Camp with Linda Pannozzo

So yes, on Saturday, we discovered two more occurrences of the Species At Risk Black-foam lichen, Anzia colpodes, in parts of the forest where no protected lichen have been found until now. We will of course report these. These discoveries are in addition to two other finds made during the Lichen Identification session led by Frances Anderson on April 3rd.

Will the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and Renewables put another freeze on the proposed harvest? Hire another lichenologist to come out and confirm these new finds? Commission a fuller survey now that there is no longer two and a half feet of snow on the ground? Perhaps check for the endangered wood turtle local resident Randy Neily reports having seen laying eggs at the edge of this logging road a couple of years ago? Or might they wait for the migratory birds to arrive?

Making decisions without knowledge
Undisturbed forest of the sort found at Beal's Brook is a rarity. DNRR chose to ignore the knowledge of local people who have known and loved this place for generations. They admitted their biologists never even came and looked at this forests. They mentioned a shortage of experts and the need for citizen scientists.

Well, we are educating ourselves. The question is, what will DNRR do with the information citizens provide? They could demonstrate that the changes in culture called for by the Lahey report are finally happening. What would a department that places the protection and enhancement of ecosystem health above all other considerations, including economic ones — Lahey's core recommendation — do? Would they grudgingly keep adding 100 meter buffers for each SAR lichen find? Or would they admit they made a mistake by approving the harvesting of this forest and recommend that it be protected as part of the government's excellent commitment to protect 20% of our province in the next eight years?

Day 135 Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Camp: April 15, 2022 - South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

Two women at Last Hope Camp

Olive green outlines show cut blocks AP068502A + B.

Clearcut near Last Hope Camp

The area immediately to the west of Cranberry Lake, Nova Scotia was clearcut 2-3 years ago.

Yesterday was a full day. In the morning three of us drove through the devastated landscape south of camp. It is hard to describe how little forest is left on this part of the South Mountain. Bowater Mersey mowed so much of it down 20 years ago. Then Nova Scotians bought the land back, believing it would now be treated more gently. Instead the government created WestFor, a consortium of mills, and left the land to their tender mercies.

We were on a mission to check out access to the southern end of the planned clearcuts just west of Cranberry Lake. On the map the olive green lines show the outlines of cut blocks AP068502A and B.

You can see the proposed Last Hope cut outlined in olive in the top right corner of the map. The area immediately to the west of Cranberry Lake was clearcut 2-3 years ago. That's the clearcut you see in the photo. We hiked through part of it then into a small part of the 30 hectares slated for demolition.

Once again we found ourselves asking why WestFor is trying to take everything and why they are even bothering with some of these forests. There is so little left for wildlife and in so many places what is left will barely pay for the roads that keep being put in to get to ever more inaccessible places. Once you start to attach monetary value to carbon sequestration, even without discussing all the other values of a forest, what is happening on these lands makes no sense.

It's as if the bad old way of treating our forests has gone over the cliff. The legs are still running but there is nowhere to go but down. The name of the game is keeping the old businesses going, flagging and cutting and hauling, milling and chipping and burning. Keeping the old supply chain limping along is costing us our future. It is costing the earth. Forestry workers need a Just Transition too.

Last Hope Campers & Visitors

Returning to camp, sombre from all we had seen, we found visitors drinking tea with Janet around the woodstove in the old prospectors tent. Carolyn Landry and her sister Nini from the Annapolis Valley band finally made it all the way to camp. In the winter Carolyn came and did Ceremony at the head of the snowbound logging road. Now we sat in the warmth and Carolyn talked about the seven sacred teachings of the Mi'kmaq, about living the truth of Msit No'kama — All My Relations Ԃ in our hearts. It became an interesting, challenging and quite personal conversation as rain pattered on the canvas overhead.

To round off the day, we took apart the chimney for the new prospectors tent and cleaned out a LOT of creosote. Nini told us to burn potato skins to keep the chimney clean. Judging by the state of the pipe, we'd better start eating a lot more potatoes. And peeling them.

Day 130 Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Camp: April 10, 2022 - South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

Two women at Last Hope Camp

If governments won't act with the urgency necessary . . . well then citizens will have to step up. That's what we are doing at Last Hope. Camping on a logging road is one way. There are lots of others. What matters is that we all do something.

Something is missing at camp and we don't just mean the snow. Our redoubtable cook tent reached a tipping point in Friday's strong winds. Having withstood all those winter storms, it blew over and broke a rib. Repair may or may not be possible.

Does that sound all too metaphorical at the end of a week that began with the latest IPCC report? You know, the one where scientists said in no uncertain terms that the world's existing supply of fossil fuels is already sufficient to land us in climate catastrophe. We cannot afford any new oil and gas extraction if we are to avoid irreversible tipping points.

On Wednesday our federal government approved new oil drilling in Bay du Nord off the coast of Newfoundland. Production is expected to start in 2028. Over thirty years it will add one billion barrels of oil to the supply we cannot afford to burn.

On Thursday the Liberals tabled a budget, supported by the NDP, in which tax payer money is used to subsidize the oil sands so they can keep on producing more oil we can't afford to burn if we want a livable planet.

In case you hadn't noticed, the warming of the atmosphere by just over 1 degree centigrade is already giving us a taste of what is in store as the wheels come off the bus. Fires, floods, windstorms, droughts, rising sea levels. It's already happening. Some scientists believe we are already entering the realm of irreversible change. Cascades of changes are on their way. Tipping points are scary.

Between 1981 and 2010, the average number of days per year when Halifax experienced winds over 52kph was 18. In the past 10 years that number has, apparently, gone up significantly. Does anyone reading this have the exact figure? And is anyone surprised? People who have lived here their whole lives comment regularly on how often we are getting fierce windstorms and how often they come from an unfamiliar direction now.

The criminal lack of urgency the federal government is displaying in relation to slashing emissions is on show provincially in relation to our forests. Cut now, protect later seems to be the name of the game. The government's pledge to protect 20% of Nova Scotia by 2030 is great. But they keep on approving plans to cut the very forests that should be protected.

Enough is enough. If governments won't act with the urgency necessary to avoid irreparable damage to our planet, well then citizens will have to step up. That's what we are doing at Last Hope. Camping on a logging road is one way. There are lots of others. What matters is that we all do something.

Day 127 Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Camp: April 7, 2022 - South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

Late snowfall at Last Hope Camp

Late snowfall at Last Hope Camp, April 7, 2022

It was déjà vu all over again on Monday but hardy campers showed up anyway and cooked and cleaned and slept and then the sun came out and away went the snow.

Meantime, our federal government decided to ignore the direst warnings of the IPCC and approve new drilling for oil in the deep waters off Newfoundland and Labrador. They sprinkled green fairy dust over the whole obscenity, chirping about how clean this oil will be to extract. Never mind the CO2 pumped into the atmosphere when people actually use that oil.

On Wednesday on the 5pm news on CBC radio, the report that the government had decided to give the Baie du Nord project the go-ahead mentioned billions in tax revenue but not a word about emissions. Then we went back to Main Street where Jeff Douglas was inquiring whether we were wearing tartan.

Today brings a budget with lots of our money being thrown at untried Carbon Capture and Storage so that the oil sands can keep on keeping on.

Sometimes it is a relief to be at camp but really there is no escaping the insanity.

Day 124 Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Camp: April 4, 2022 - South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

Group sitting outdoor workshop Leader, lichen workshop group looks for lichen in the forest

Waking up this morning to the sound of wet snow falling on canvas, it is hard to believe yesterday was so pleasant and the forest floor so bare. Twelve of us gathered to learn about lichens, specifically the Species at Risk lichens found in the Last Hope forest. Frances Anderson, our teacher, has been described by some as a lichen wizard. Her enthusiasm is infectious. Hope some of the knowledge rubs off.

The combination of looking at specimens, having the identification cards we had made, then being able to go and see rare lichens in their habitat was incredibly helpful.

And yes, we did find two more "occurrences" of Anzia colpodes, Black-foam lichen. The small part of the forest we were in yesterday seems to contain the different and not fully understood elements that make up good habitat for this rare lichen.

It does not, on the other hand, contain the sorts of trees the mills value. Everyone who knows anything about lumber has expressed disbelief, on seeing what is growing in this forest, that WestFor is insisting on going ahead with the proposed harvest. The value of the merchantable timber is minimal compared to the ecological value of this forest.

But then the potential value of this forest to the web of life we all depend on didn't merit more than a desk-jockey review from DNRR until after a lichen enthusiast came and actually visited the forest.

DNRR's primary commitment seems to be to smooth the way for industrial forestry. That's how it has been and, sad to say, it looks as if nothing much has changed.

Except of course everything has changed. The science is clear. Just as the climate crisis must be addressed now if we are going to have a livable planet, so too the biodiversity crisis. Planet wide, natural systems are collapsing. Neither emergency can be addressed alone. We cannot afford to go on acting as if nature is a resource governments, corporations and individuals are entitled to pillage, no matter the cost to the common good.

Citizens are going to have to lead the way. Whether that is learning to identify rare lichens or bioblitzing an old forest before a road is put in or reminding governments and industry of laws they prefer to ignore, such as the Migratory Bird Convention Act, or camping by a logging road for four months, we can make a difference because we must make a difference. Time's up for business as usual.

The thing is, doing what we can feels far better than sitting at home, fretting that it is too late. Too late for what? Too late to save a particular forest? Too late to stop a gold mine? Too late to end open-pen aquaculture? Too late to respect Indigenous rights? Too late to teach children we are part of nature, not its lord and master? Yes, there's a lot to do, but there are a lot of us who care. And it's fun. It's fun to learn new things in good company in a beautiful place AND learn skills that can make a difference.

We plan to make the Last Hope camp a place people come to share and learn some of what we need to know to protect and restore nature. Watch this page for more events. Join us when you can!

Take 2: Day 122 Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Camp: April 2, 2022 - South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

nova scotia old road map

Old Road Map: Nova Scotia

Global Forest Watch map 2020

More recent: Global Forest Watch map 2020

westfor planning map 2021

Westfor planning map 2021

provincial landscape viewer map

Red outline is the forest we are currently protecting. No harvest plans have been proposed yet for the McEwan Lake area to the east. Or at least, not where the public can see them.

More about maps and moose and logging roads:

In the first map, an old road map, the green areas are "crown" land. The area around McEwan Lake was "crown" land when the land to the west, where we are camped now, was still owned by Bowater Mersey.

The second map is more recent. It is a satellite map from Global Forest Watch from 2020. It shows forest cover loss since 2000. All those pink areas are forests that have been clearcut in the last 20 years. The bright blue patches are where some of them are beginning to regrow. The little yellow cross is Last Hope camp. See how the area outlined in light blue is relatively intact? It has not, in other words, been cut to hell.

Well, WestFor plans to change that. The next map is from their 2021 planning documents. It shows the logging road they plan to put in from Hwy 10 to either side of McEwan Lake. On this map, "crown" land is green, privately owned land is grey. There is far more "crown" land to the west of Beal's Brook than there used to be because we, the taxpayers, bought back a lot of land from Bowater Mersey in 2012 when they went belly up.

Between Bowater and WestFor, there is precious little forest left standing to the west of Hwy 10 except this patch around McEwan Lake.

The next two maps are from the Provincial Landscape Viewer. The red outline is the forest we are currently protecting. No harvest plans have been proposed yet for the McEwan Lake area to the east. Or at least, not where the public can see them. But, as the saying goes, "where a road goes in, a forest comes out." And for the endangered Mainland moose, where a road goes in, their habitat is degraded, and with it their chances of survival.

The forest around McEwan Lake is a rarity, a relatively uninterrupted combination of mature (green) and mixed species/old forest (purple). Outside of areas already under protection such as the Cloud Lake Wilderness Area to the east of Hwy 10, there are vanishingly few of these areas left.

How did this one survive? It has been protected by brooks and by people who cared. Back in the 70s, DNR put in a road, which required a bridge, and there was some cutting. They took some of what local hunter and farmer Randy Neily calls "The Big Woods." But then somebody blew up the bridge with a stick of dynamite. Some of the Big Woods survived. The forest was left to grow as nature intended. Eventually, about 4 years ago, DNR — or was it WestFor? — tried again to put in a road and a bridge from Crisp Rd. This time a couple of guys set the bridge on fire. When that didn't do the job, they took an excavator and knocked the bridge off its pilings. DNR ended up cutting it in half to get it out of the Mary Brown brook, or so the story goes.

Is that what it takes to protect a forest in this province? There must be a better way.

Take a look at the last map, a wider view of this area. The cream coloured patches are essentially clearcuts that are starting to regrow. They are pretty much the equivalent of the pink patches on the Global Forest Watch satellite map. The tan patches are young forests, ie slightly older clearcuts.

We have a government that claims to get it that we are in both a climate and a biodiversity crisis. We need mature and old mixed species forests to store carbon and support the complex webs of life we all depend on.

This same government has pledged to protect 20% of Mi'kma'ki by 2030. Let's do it. It isn't rocket science when you look at maps like these. Protect what's left of forests like the ones at Last Hope and around McEwan Lake. Don't even think about putting a road in. Don't wait until there is nothing left to protect.

And just in case the government isn't listening, please, everyone who drives Hwy 10, keep an eye on the west side of the road north of the Baptist church in New Albany around about where civic number 6001 would be. Make a stink if you see any signs of preparations for a road going in. We need to keep the little we have left.

Many thanks to David Patriquin for his stellar blog, Nova Scotia Forest Notes, and all the work he did pulling together an amazing array of maps for the area around the Last Hope camp.

Go to our March 2022 report for More about Maps and Moose

"Where a road goes in . . . a forest comes out."

Day 122 Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Camp: April 2, 2022 - South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

nova scotia clearcut

Clearcut beside the Last Hope Camp forest.

"I'm at The Last Hope Camp in Mi'kma'ki, Annapolis County, helping to protect endangered species habitat from being cut (on so-called "Crown Land.") Yesterday, Nina and I had a wonderfully peaceful time in the forest. The day was mild, we could hear birds singing and later, frogs chirping. and the moisture and temperature was like a soft caress on your face — a glimpse of the comfort of Spring.

"Have you heard of forest bathing? It's the experience you have when you allow yourself to sink in to the peace and tranquillity the forest has to offer, and you notice your stress and tension washing away.

"I felt it, yesterday, after 2 years of challenges and family heartache, the forest helped to straighten my shoulders and ease my mind — and enable me to stand taller.

"I found a soft "lichen wand" and held it to my nose, breathing in what seemed like a higher concentration of oxygen, gently scented with freshness. It felt amazing. It's such a special thing, to take one's time in nature, drink it in, and appreciate it.

"Nina showed me the Black Foam Lichen, a Species at Risk, here at the Last Hope Camp. We have a lichen ID workshop tomorrow, to raise awareness. Later the same day, I took a walk through the clear cut nearby; (this beautiful forest is surrounded by clear cuts) and noticed the difference in the way I felt.

"I am grateful there are others, like me, who value and appreciate nature — who care about having a livable future.

"We need to band together and find ways to help those with the power to stop the destruction see that it is worthwhile to protect it. We are in a climate and biodiversity crisis and enough is enough," - Eleanor Wynn

Black foam lichen - Species At Risk  fungus looks like tiny metal puffballs Yellow Speckle Belly Fungus trees logged & left to rot

From left at Last Hope Camp; Black foam lichen - Species At Risk; Wolf's Milk fungus; Yellow Speckle Belly Fungus; Trees logged, then left to rot

Day 121 Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Camp: April 1, 2022 - South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

2 happy women 2 tents, woman Spring waters rushing

Spring is springing, birds are singing. Warm air blew in on a big wind last night. Snow is almost all gone. Mud is drying up.
And as the sign you can't quite read says, "These woods belong to the next 7 generations." That's why we're here, and happy to be.
Will we jinx it all if we take our snowshoes home?

Protect Last Hope Wildlife Corridor