#SaveTheMainlandMoose - December 2021 On-Location Reports
South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

save mainland moose habitat Land Defenders at Last Hope Camp wasted logs

This is disturbing - there are 3 huge piles of abandoned cut trees along the logging road of the nearby clear-cut. Why would the logging companies cut these trees down, only to leave them to rot by the side of the road? Don't you agree they would be better off sequestering carbon and providing a home for endangered wildlife?

Jacob Fillmore

Jacob Fillmore, still at it... who camped for what, three months?? at City hall last year through the winter, and went on a 20-something day hunger strike because our government would rather arrest people than treat the climate crisis like an emergency.

Day 29 Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Camp: December 30, 2021 - Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

by Eleanor Wynn
I just got home after 2 nights/3 days of winter camping at Last Hope Camp ... a community effort (29 days already) to protest the Nova Scotia government plans to allow WestFor to cut/log an important piece of wildlife refuge on Crown Land in Annapolis County. . . . Here's an intro/nutshell for you.

First off: Beautiful people, good folks. Looking for something to uplift your spirit, in these dark days? Spend some time protecting a forest with other folks who care. Yes, the main reason you're there is sad/frustrating, but what better way to combat despair than to connect with like minded people and unite for the benefit of nature and wildlife and the forest?

We are in a climate crisis and species are going extinct at alarming rates. There is quite frankly no better way to spend your time than to put yourself in the way of destruction and protect nature like a momma bear. It will feed your soul.

I was impressed by the folks I spent time with - some, I've known and loved - for a few years now, through the environmental work I've done since I learned of the IPCC report (1.5 to stay alive), back in 2018 - but there were new folks, too - a young woman joined us who knew no one - not a soul . . . she had heard of the folks protecting Fairy Creek Old Growth forests in BC and wanted to help them, but knew she should start closer to home for logistical reasons. She googled "camp to protect a forest" and the Extinction Rebellion NS page came up. She got in touch and came out to join us, all by herself. She was specifically looking to find people who cared, like she does.

Another young woman came with her father; it was a lovely thing to do together and represented a different way to care for the environment than what they already do in so many ways. But that's the thing - all the angles are necessary to unite, to protect nature and this planet. In the quest to keep ecosystems alive and a home for all of us, that we can survive on - we need all the angles. Direct action is really important because it gets around the red tape that slows down (and almost makes useless) all the regular methods.

The back story:
This chunk of "Crown Land"/public land was named the "Last Hope Hunting Camp" back in the 1920s or '30s. It got that name because wildlife/game for hunting was already becoming scarce due to human activity. The folks in the area knew this spot was your "Last Hope" to put food on your table, and they erected a hunting cabin there. (It's since been torn down, but stood until the '80s or so.)

[Years ago, although] the area was known to be a good habitat for moose and wildlife, the Bowater Mersey Paper Company was allowed by the Nova Scotia Government to cut down the forest. But they spared it, when the community asked, due to the importance of the area. (Thank you!)

Fast forward to 2021 - we are in a climate and biodiversity crisis, and our government has declared a climate emergency (municipal, provincial AND federal). YET - what the heck are we doing, still cutting down forests, arresting protesters, and ruining important habitat for endangered species? (plus coal, plus oil....)

The EASIEST thing we can do is STOP cutting down trees. They do not grow back fast enough to call them a renewable resource. The way they do "harvesting" now depletes the soil and creates a barren landscape that does not recover.

Even if they say they will leave a certain percentage standing, the wildlife (and us humans too, who want a livable planet) deserve some shelter from the storms, some forests left intact to sequester carbon.

While at the Last Hope camp, we met a man whose family owns land that connects with the crown land there. He's seen the changes over the years - the forest we want to protect is only about 80 years old - it was logged that long ago - the trees are not old growth, and they are not huge - but at least it is relatively biodiverse compared to the clear cuts in other nearby areas.

The type of logging they do these days:

We are part of this ecosystem. We need to protect it. There's more I could say, but I'm tired now, going to catch some ZZZs.

I had a wonderful time at the Last Hope Camp, and I want to encourage you to get in touch with them and go spend some time there. I'd suggest two nights, so you can sink in. There is warmth - it will be ok. You will be uplifted, for helping to make a difference.

Contact Debbie at d.giffin [at] bellaliant.net to volunteer/camp, or to donate supplies. Send etransfers of $ donations to keep the camp running to xrannaco [at] gmail.com

Land Defenders Land Defenders Mi'kmaw support for Land Defenders

Day 28 at Last Hope Camp: December 29, 2021

Some people can deliver firewood, others can camp. Some can drink tea by the fire. Lots of people, we hope, can write letters to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Tim Halman. Please feel free to use this letter as a basis for yours, but put as much as you can in your own words.

The Honorable Tim Halman,
Your government has made a significant commitment to protecting 20% of Nova Scotia's lands and waters by 2030. This election pledge was enshrined in law in the Environmental Goals and Climate Change Reduction Act.

In addition to moving all the areas on the proposed Parks and Protected Areas list into protection, you will be protecting another 6% of our lands, or 330,000 hectares, to meet this commitment.

I am writing to urge you to place 24 hectares of forest on Crown land near Beal's Brook in Annapolis County under consideration for protection. This forest is a vital wildlife corridor in an area of wetlands surrounded by clearcuts. Three endangered species have been observed in the area: Mainland moose, pine marten and wood turtle. Twenty-two years ago, Bowater Mersey agreed to leave this forest uncut, based on its high value to wildlife.

It is the historic site of the Last Hope Hunting Camp, established in the 1920s in an area known for its moose population. At a time when game was growing scarce, people trying to get their winter's meat would come to this camp to hunt. Moose are still present in this area, with sightings of tracks throughout the wetlands surrounding this forest as well as a photograph taken in 2020.

Now WestFor plans to log this stand of 80 year old forest. Local residents sounded the alarm as soon as they saw flagging go up, the first they learned of WestFor's plan. The Department of Natural Resources and Renewables did not respond at all until they enlisted the help of their MLA. DNRR then told them it was too late to stop the cut.

Learning of the situation, other Annapolis County residents set up a protest camp on the site. Forest Protectors have been camped out there since December 2nd with strong local support.

People who have hunted and fished this area for a lifetime are passionate about protecting this forest from logging of any sort. They know how little forest of any age is left, having witnessed the massive amount of clearcutting that has happened on the South Mountain in the last 40 years. They know the impact this has had on wildlife.

It is time to save what little is left, Minister Halman. It is my understanding that your Department is responsible for protecting our lands and forests. Please take the small but important step of placing this forest under immediate consideration for protection.
Yours sincerely, (Your name and civic address)

Note: We are told it is most effective make your email a brief cover note with your letter attached.
email minister.environment@novascotia.ca
cc to your MLA if possible - Find your MLA
Please bcc xrns [at] riseup.net so we can keep track of how many letters are sent in.

More how-to, where-to etc: Letters Page - addresses, samples, details

Mi'kmaw support for Land Defenders

Day 27 at Last Hope Camp: December 28, 2021

Yesterday a couple of us explored one of the logging roads that branches off the one we take to our encampment. This is some of what we saw between Trout Lake and Paradise Lake. Giant, recent clearcuts on Crown land. WestFor is claiming they haven't been clearcutting much in the past 5 years. So what are these?

By the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables own definition, any cut that leaves less than 60% of the forest standing is a clearcut.

More clearcuts have been through the approval process for this area, including 2 next to Cranberry Lake, AP068502A and B.

Where is wildlife supposed to go? Extinct seems to be the answer.

We say no. We are camped out to protect a vital wildlife corridor in an area that has seen so much destruction. It is not too late to protect precious habitat but it soon will be. We need a moratorium on all harvesting on Crown land until the Lahey report is implemented.

clearcutting in nova scotia

Day 26 at Last Hope Camp: December 27, 2021

Last Hope Camp by forest defenders

Many thanks to all who made and delivered fabulous food! And then there was the bear Perry carved, but that's for another post.

Day 25 at Last Hope Camp: December 26, 2021

From Laura . . . Dear Forest Protectors:
The following is a message from the campers. Attached are some photos of the camp ready for Christmas plus the Mainland moose that was spotted in the area in 2020.

Thank you to the visitors that came out over the last few days, bringing dry fire wood, treats, a Christmas dinner and boosting morale! Still looking for some campers for December 29th and onwards, plus daytime visitors are always welcome. Contact Debbie if you can camp or visit.

Blessings of the season to all of you from all of us at Camp Last Hope. Our camp mascot may not be the real deal, but yesterday we saw a picture of a mainland moose that was sighted in this area just last year. Some may say that it is Christmas Day, just go home! But we must remain vigilant and stand guard over this piece of forest that is a wildlife corridor. Our government isn't protecting endangered species as they should.

24 hectares of unceded Mi'kma'ki land. 24 hectares slated to have a large portion of the forest within it cut WITHOUT prior meaningful consultation with the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaw Chiefs. 24 hectares surrounded by three water ways. 24 hectares that connects wildlife. 24 hectares in the midst of a sea of clear-cuts. 24 hectares that has been home to three endangered species. 24 hectares that is worth more in the ground than on the back of a truck!

Industrial forestry has run amuck and is being aided and abetted by the provincial government of Nova Scotia. What happened to all of the chatter of creating a detailed management planning for public land and its resources, with a "focus on creating sustainable jobs, ensuring optimal social benefits from land use, and achieving environmental and conservation goals" when Bowater closed its doors? Gone the way of the dodo bird (the very thing we hope to prevent with the mainland moose).

Day 23 at Last Hope Camp: December 24, 2021

From Nina Newington: It is Christmas Eve and bitterly cold. We are protecting this 80 year old forest as a vital wildlife corridor. Here on the South Mountain in Annapolis County, forest cover has been decimated by clearcutting. This forest stands out as an island in a sea of clearcuts.

Flagging went up marking the boundaries of the proposed cut over a month ago. WestFor told a concerned local resident it was too late to object, cutting was due to start in the next two weeks. Four days after learning about this, we set up our protest camp.

We are camped at the exact location of the Last Hope Hunting Camp, established in the 1920s in an area known to be well-populated by moose. At a time when agriculture and other settler activities meant game was getting scarce, people trying to get their winter's meat would come to this camp to hunt.

Now the moose are almost gone. They need our help. We can't afford to stand by and watch more habitat for endangered species destroyed. In addition to moose, tracks of pine marten have been seen here. So have wood turtles. While the proposed cut for this forest is not a clearcut, the extraction roads alone will devastate the wildlife value of this fragment of standing forest.

We know we are not alone in caring. From Mi'kmaw Elders to the local hunter and trapper who spoke up on Facebook about the plan to cut this forest, to a master guide who once worked for Bowater Mersey, to Community College students and young children, we have received an out-pouring of support.

2021 has shown us that governments can take action in an emergency. After a year of devastating wildfires, floods, tornadoes in December, even the deniers have switched tactics. Now they say, it's too late. Party on.

Yes, the climate and biodiversity crises are bearing down on us all. But it's not too late to make a difference. It's not too late to change the way we treat nature and all our kin, human and non-human.

Business as usual is over. Start somewhere. Get in the way of what is damaging the Earth. Camp with us if you can, but if you can't, don't worry. There's a lot to be done. In the coming days, we'll be asking you to contact politicians again, but in the meantime enjoy whatever shortest-days-of-the-year festivities you prefer.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
- Mary Oliver

Day 20 at Last Hope Camp: December 21, 2021

Winter solstice at midday today. Nights are magical at camp. Also long. Minus 11 last night, but warmer this morning.

Moon rose through the trees. Tent glowing. Frost sparkled on the owl banner.

Dirty weather coming. We'll see whether the prospector's tent stands the storm. It needs more bracing.

Meantime we have wonderful support, practical and moral. Lunch yesterday was Smoked Mackerel spread courtesy of ARCH & PO on their seedy bread with pickled chanterelles courtesy of Blackbird Hollow. Oh and Nina's home-raised and made chicken liver paté. How we do suffer.

Seriously though, being out in the cold with food and good gear make as all of us think about people without homes and people going hungry and the shame of that in a rich country like Canada.

Day 19 at Last Hope Camp: December 20, 2021

Any moment days will start getting longer. In the meantime winter is knocking at the door. Thanks to the loan of an old-fashioned prospector's tent, we should have warmer, more spacious shelter soon. YouTube is full of guys lashing together frames for tents like this at warp speed. Pity about the data required. It may take us a little longer.

But in the meantime here we are, protecting what we can. Last night we heard about another huge clearcut happening where West Dalhousie road comes into Hwy 10. We don't know yet whether it is on crown or private land. The wildlife doesn't know either. Nor does the atmosphere.

Which part of 'This is an emergency' does our government not understand? Which part of the UN Secretary-General's 'Code Red for humanity'?

Looking at forest cover loss in the area of the South Mountain surrounding this little wildlife corridor, it is clear we must protect any areas of intact forest remaining. Haven't had any response yet from the Minister to our request for a meeting to discuss the proposed cutting of this 24 hectares. Is he reviewing it? Is he asking whether it should ever have been considered appropriate for harvesting? After all, Bowater Mersey left this little forest to grow undisturbed because of its value to wildlife. Surely, knowing what we know about dramatic losses of wildlife populations and the dangers of ecosystem collapse, our government could stop this cut.

Santa arrested in 2020

Day 14 at Last Hope Camp: December 15, 2021

A year ago today, Santa was arrested for trying to save the forests for the moose at Rocky Point Lake and Caribou River down in Digby County.

Here's what WestFor gave the endangered Mainland moose for Christmas this year. "Rocky Point Lake forestry is a model of ecological forestry with 60% of trees remaining." (WestFor Management's Facebook post, November 23, 2021.) "We are pleased with the harvest that is underway. It is a model for future forestry activity," said Breck Stuart, General Manager of WestFor.

A plateful of spin and a wrecked habitat, in other words.

The photographs of muddy forest wreckage were taken in October 22nd, 2021 at the end of Rocky Point Lake road. The logging company has blocked our access to that area since then.

If what has been done to Rocky Point Lake is WestFor's version of ecological forestry with 60% of trees remaining, let's hope Santa has better luck saving WestFor's latest target for 'ecological forestry,' the Last Hope Wildlife Corridor in Annapolis County.

This habitat is necessary for endangered Mainland moose and pine marten as well as threatened wood turtles. WestFor claim they will leave 70% of the trees this time. Like Rocky Point Lake, this forest should not be cut at all. There are places where true ecological forestry is appropriate. This little island of older forest in a sea of clearcuts is not one of them. Please, everyone, put saving this little forest on your wish list for Santa. And in case Santa is busy, ask the premier, Tim Houston, to step in. Stop the cut at Beal's Brook in Annapolis County, Harvest ID AP068499. It is only 24 hectares. It is connects three important wetlands. There is so little standing forest left in the area. Species at Risk need it more than WestFor. Email premier@novascotia.ca

Day 2 at Last Hope Camp: December 3, 2021

This photograph is a view of the Last Hope Wildlife Corridor from a neighbouring clearcut. In a CBC article this morning about the protest happening at this site against the planned logging of this 24 hectare parcel, the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables spokesperson sang the praises of the proposed 30% Shelterwood cut. It is quite true that leaving 70% of the forest is a retention level that fits with the ecological forestry the Lahey report recommends for the majority of crown land, especially if the usual clearcutting sequel to a Shelterwood cut, Overstory Removal, does not take place.

The real question is not how should this parcel be cut but should it be cut at all? This article does not mention the fact that Bowater-Mersey left this parcel alone when they were cutting everything else in reach because of its value to wildlife. Has wildlife recovered in the intervening years? Hardly.

Did the provincial biologists who signed off on this harvest actually go out to the site? Did they talk to the neighbouring landowners, hunters and trappers who are deeply knowledgeable about this land? Did they talk with any Mi'kmaw people with traditional knowledge of the land? Or did they sit at their desks to do the assessment? If they had gone to the site, would they have taken into account the ecological degradation of the surrounding lands or would they only have focused on the parcel to be approved?

These are real questions. The heart of the issue is how the decision was made that this forest was available for harvesting. The Lahey report and review point to the necessity for landscape level planning. In other words, before you decide if one particular parcel should be approved, there needs to be a planning process to decide which areas must be protected because they are important to the ecological health of the whole.

Protecting and restoring ecological health is supposed to be the overarching priority. A 30% Shelterwood cut might well be appropriate in an area where harvesting is acceptable (assuming no one plays games by, for example, failing to count the trees cut to create extraction routes as part of the 30%) but that is neither here nor there if the area should not be cut at all. That is the case with the Last Hope Wildlife Corridor. It will be the case with many other areas recently identified as core moose habitat. We need an immediate moratorium on all harvesting on public lands until this long overdue landscape level planning has happened.

Day 2 at Last Hope Camp: December 3, 2021

Annapolis County MLA, Carman Kerr, is trying hard to help defenders protect forest critical to the Endangered Mainland Moose and to stop this foolish, greed-driven cut. PLEASE HELP by sending him an e-mail asking the cut be stopped now - before it's too late. #NSPoli

Protect Last Hope Wildlife Corridor