#SaveTheMainlandMoose - June 2022 On-Location Reports + Good to Know . . . Links from Camp
South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

Day 203: June 22, 2022 — Last Days at Last Hope Camp

South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

Rainbow over the forest

Thirty people came out for our summer solstice celebration bearing tons of delicious food. Spirits were high. So many people came together to make this win for the forest possible. The message is clear: we can protect nature and our own future.

The 10 who camped the night, gathered around the fire, saw this spectacular rainbow arching over Beal's Brook. Our commitment to this forest is strong. We will be back if necessary.

In the morning, we took down the camp, with help from more people who showed up for the day. One of the gifts of this action — of these actions — to protect all our relations is the deep and abiding bonds that form as we deal together with whatever adversities we face. There was a lot of love these last two days. And gratitude to the L'nu, the original people of this land, and the graciousness of the District Chief of Kespukwitk in inviting us to be on territory and thanking us for our sacrifices. It is a pleasure and an honour to do what we can.

Msit Nokoma.

Forest Defenders in front of truck

Day 202: June 21, 2022 — tomorrow, Last Hope Camp becomes Last Hope Campaign!

South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

Species at risk map Last Hope Camp

Species at risk map Last Hope Camp

This longest day of the year, we are celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day
AND
we are celebrating the fact that 60% of the Last Hope forest is now completely off-limits to cutting. The map says it all.

Thanks to lichenologists and licheneers, 17 occurrences of three different Species at Risk lichens have now been reported to DNRR and the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre.

With each occurrence getting a 100 m buffer around it, the remaining 10 hectare section of the original cut block is harder to access and even less appealing $$$wise.

As a result, we have decided it is time to pack up and go home. Tomorrow, Last Hope camp will morph into the Last Hope Campaign.

This does NOT mean we are walking away from this forest. We know ongoing monitoring is required.

Our commitment to protecting this forest is unwavering. As part of a larger drive to get the government moving on its pledge to protect 20% of our lands and waters by 2030, we are working on getting formal protection for an area that includes the forest by Beal's Brook.

It is time for us to broaden our focus. In order to have anything left to protect, all forests as old or older than Last Hope on "crown" land should be put off limits to harvesting, road building and development. Now. It's not complicated. But it is going to take people getting educated and getting active. That's the Last Hope campaign: helping people all around Nova Scotia push for protection for the areas they care about.

Nina Newington, Forest Protector, Annapolis County

"Where government is failing to protect the natural world we all rely on, citizens are stepping up. That is the big message of our Last Hope camp. Government biologists sit behind their desks, signing off on harvests. Ministers hand off decisions to industry. But citizens, working with Indigenous traditional government, are saying no, we do not consent to the ongoing destruction of nature. There is a better way. The Last Hope forest is still standing, still sheltering endangered species. If needed, we'll be back. We know the road."

Frances Anderson, co-author of Common Lichens of Northeastern North America

"All the at risk lichens identified in this forest depend on undisturbed, continuous habitat. Given the government's pledge to protect 20% of our lands and waters, we should be saving whatever is left of old forests like this one on Crown lands. There are few forests left on Crown that are over 80 years old - it would be such a simple step for government to save them. This forest and its at risk lichens would have been lost without the dedication and vigilance of the campers."

Day 200 Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Camp: June 19, 2022
South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

Last Hope Camp Day 200

Who is Westfor?

Good to Know . . . Links from Camp
See More Camp Reports below this section

Day 200 Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Camp: June 19, 2022
South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

Carved bear and sign by the forest

In the last week, a snapping turtle came to lay her eggs by the old prospectors tent. A black bear with three cubs was seen on the other side of the bridge. We have camped out on this logging road all this time for all our relations. Msit Nokoma.

Also this week an exceptional post appeared on the blog Nova Scotia ForestNotes.ca Following the link at the end of this post to an even more in depth examination of nutrient budgeting led to this passage:

Prescience of the protests at AP068499 Beals Meadow
The protests and concerns about harvesting at AP068499 Beals Meadow have proven to be highly prescient — and not by accident. They were initiated because of landscape level concerns about a proposed harvest, concerns that were intuitively obvious to people who knew the area well. As laid out in this Series of Posts on Logging in the vicinity of AP068499 Beals Meadow:

1. On the extent of clearcutting 23Jan2022
2. On Highgrading at the Landscape Level 27Jan2022
3. On the depleted soils

Those concerns are well backed up. The government/DNRR (Department of Natural Resources and Renewables) response, contending that the harvests as announced comply with Lahey Recommendations simply shows their limited grasp of those recommendations or more concerning, a deliberate attempt to ignore the parts they don't like.

We have to do better, beginning with AP068499 Beals Meadow.

Thank you, David Patriquin. One of the beauties of this camp has been growing connections with scientists of different stripes. Just as, around the world, scientists are sounding the alarm about climate change and nature loss, so too in Mi'kma'ki.

A quick tour of the area around Last Hope yields ample evidence of the extreme acidity of the soil (aka low Base Saturation.) Anyone with eyes to see can tell that old clearcuts are not growing back. Some are turning into barrens. Theoretical models are not good enough.

"At the very least, soil samples should be taken at AP068499 Beals Meadow (and other sites on depleted soils the Ecological Matrix being considered for harvest) to assess the current state of the soils — are they still in the range 5-15% Base Saturation; are there signs of some recovery? OR have they fallen even further (to less than 5-15% Base Saturation)?

Good science starts with good information. Just as DNRR biologists never set foot in the forest by Beal's Brook, instead relying on inaccurate models to decide there were no Species at Risk here, so it turns out no-one from DNRR ever took any soil samples here. Instead they decided that these soils were good enough to support the kind of cut they proposed, even though their own soil map suggests that is not the case.

A quick tour of the area around Last Hope yields ample evidence of the extreme acidity of the soil (aka low Base Saturation.) Anyone with eyes to see can tell that old clearcuts are not growing back. Some are turning into barrens. Theoretical models are not good enough.

"At the very least, soil samples should be taken at AP068499 Beals Meadow (and other sites on depleted soils the Ecological Matrix being considered for harvest) to assess the current state of the soils — are they still in the range 5-15% Base Saturation; are there signs of some recovery? OR have they fallen even further (to less than 5-15% Base Saturation)?

If there are no signs of recovery from the depleted state of the soils in the area of AP068499 Beals Meadow, that in combination with extensive clearcutting in the past followed by "high grading at the landscape level" would call for a complete halt on harvesting of any remaining Old Forest in the area AND beginning some catchment liming."

It's past time for governments to listen to citizens AND scientists. Come out and look at what industrial forestry and acid rain have done to this land.

Day 199 Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Camp: June 18, 2022
South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

Last Hope Camp XRNS signs

Some people have asked us, what is that symbol on the red flag? It is the emblem of Extinction Rebellion: an old-fashioned hourglass. The message? The sands of time are running out. They are running out, not just for humans but for the whole complex, glorious web of life as we know it.

Climate change is coming too fast for many plants to adapt. Evolution is a slow process. The rapacious destruction of the natural world for profit, using ever more efficient machines, continues as if business as usual is an option. But ecosystems are collapsing. Extraordinarily complex systems are going out of kilter, from ocean currents to the timing of insect hatches. We should be terrified.

Time is up for business as usual. If we think changing our ways is too uncomfortable and costly, consider what happened to Lytton, BC last summer. It's not too late to make things worse — and it's not too late to make them better. But it will be if we don't get a move on. Time is running out.

This needs to be the framework for all of our actions. It puts things in perspective. We need, for example, to celebrate any movement in the right direction. The government's announcement that Owls Head will become a provincial park is a terrific win for all the people who put in countless hours to uncovering, protesting and reversing a particularly slimy backroom deal that would have led to a stunning act of ecological vandalism.

But isn't it mind-boggling to have to fight our government that hard to remedy an obvious wrong?

"The designation of this land as a provincial park is a clear indication of our promise to protect more land in Nova Scotia," said Minister Rushton. "We are committed to transparency and giving the public an opportunity to provide input on how public lands are used, managed and protected."

So we can celebrate not only the permanent protection of Owls Head, but also the fact that the government seems at last to be getting the message: we want more land protected and we want the government to listen to the people of this province.

We don't have time to mess around. We should not have to fight to protect one little piece of land at a time. This is an emergency.

But wait, is this the same Minister Rushton who has ignored citizens camped out in legal protest on the side of a logging road in Annapolis county for 199 days? The minister who has decided to put the fate of the Last Hope forest in the hands of a consortium of mills? The minister whose department keeps on spitting out harvest proposals for areas that should not be cut at all?

There are precious few older forests left in this province, forests like Last Hope. Older forests are more resilient because they are more complex. Complex ecosystems take time to develop. We can't spare any more of these forests. We need every oasis of biodiversity we can find and protect. Forests over 80 years old now make up only between one and 5% of all forests in Nova Scotia. The government has committed to protecting 20% of our lands and waters.

DNRR's abject failure to identify the importance of Last Hope as a habitat for endangered lichens makes it clear they are not up to the task of identifying the forests that should be protected. Their plan appears to be Cut Now, Protect Later.

So here is some input for the government: we need an emergency protection order. ALL forests on "crown" land 80 years old or older should be placed under consideration for protection right now. That means no harvesting, no road-building, no development. Biologists can fine tune exactly what areas will receive permanent protection by the 2030 deadline, but in the meantime we will know we are doing the best thing we can do for nature, including ourselves.

We don't have time to mess around. We should not have to fight to protect one little piece of land at a time. This is an emergency.

Tell the Truth. Act Now.

Day 198 Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Camp: June 17, 2022
South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

Black Foam Lichen Anzia Colpodes

Anzia Colpodes (Black Foam Lichen) — canada.ca photo

For those who wonder . . . "What's all the fuss about lichens?"
John Macoun (1831-1920) became Canada's first dominion botanist in 1882, and, in the course of a storied career, collected over 100,000 floral specimens and formally identified over 1,000 species new to science, many of whom now bear his name. He was also a sucker for lichens and collected them feverishly.

Macoun's collections give us our earliest authoritative glimpse into the past of our native lichens, and Canada has maintained a national lichenologist ever since to build upon his work, a torch now carried by Troy McMullin with the Canadian Museum of Nature. If there is any single lesson to be gained from this proud tradition of lichenology, said McMullin, it's that Canadian lichens have lost a lot of ground.

Macoun's Receding Lichen Line is an ongoing project of McMullin's, and its thesis is simple — an alarming number of the lichens documented by Macoun no longer occur anywhere near where he documented them. Some have vanished from entire provinces, others from entire regions, extirpated from habitats both disturbed and pristine. A compelling example is Black Foam lichen, identified by Macoun and others in the 1700s and 1800s throughout Quebec and southern Ontario, but now it only occurs in the Maritimes, retreating east with foreboding rapidity.

Anzia Colpodes (Black Foam Lichen), a Species-At-Risk, has been identified at the Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Camp.

Women chatting in a tent

Day 192 Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Camp: June 11, 2022
South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

One of the joys of camp is meeting amazing people who care deeply about nature. Last night, eating supper, our combined ages — there were six of us — totalled 449 years!

An extraordinary array of knowledge, passion, wisdom and humour filled that prospectors tent. Areas of expertise included: lichens (Frances Anderson); mosses, liverworts and hornworts (Anne Mills); native plants (Ginni Proulx); nature in general and Monarch butterflies in particular (Lisa Proulx); the waterways of Southwest Nova, organic farming, writing, organizing (Sandra Phinney); camping on logging roads (Nina Newington).

It was a privilege to be there. And we ate a delicious potluck supper!

Day 188 Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Camp: June 7, 2022
South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

LETTERS:
Saltwire, Nova Scotia published three letters-to-the-editor on environmental matters, including Nina's re Last Hope on the right.

See all three letters here:
"Lost in the woods on environmental policy in Nova Scotia"

clearcut in nova scotia

A typical, government-approved clearcut harvest on Crown land north of St. Margaret's Bay, Nova Scotia.
Photo by Raymond Plourde, senior wilderness coordinator, Ecology Action Centre

Short shrift for Last Hope
I am one of the people who have camped out along a logging road on "Crown" land in Annapolis County since December 2, 2021. We are protecting a small forest we call Last Hope after the historic Last Hope moose-hunting camp built 100 years ago on this exact spot.

According to Carman Kerr, our MLA, Tory Rushton's latest plan is to leave it to WestFor to decide whether to go ahead with cutting the Last Hope forest. This is astounding, given that Rushton is the minister of Natural Resources and Renewables. His department is responsible for protecting endangered species.

Their record generally — and as it relates to the forest by Beal's Brook in particular — is not exactly stellar. DNRR biologists twice reviewed this 24-hectare forest. They declared there were no species at risk to worry about. When it turned out that there were indeed species at risk in the forest, Rushton paused the harvest. After the lichenologist hired by DNRR surveyed the site and confirmed the presence of seven species-at-risk lichens, Rushton declared himself satisfied. The cut could go ahead with 100-metre buffer zones around each of the seven lichen specimens.

Now, when citizens have identified another eight species-at-risk lichens in the forest, Rushton is placing the decision in the hands of a consortium of mills.

In his mandate letter to the newly minted minister, Premier Tim Houston described Rushton as a "solutionist" who would be working with a team of "solutionists." Rushton's solution to the problem posed by the Last Hope Forest appears to be to shuffle it off like an uncomfortable pair of shoes and walk away. Isn't it time we had a minister who listens to science and takes seriously his or her responsibility to protect the biodiversity and ecosystem health?

That, by the way, is what implementing the Lahey report actually means, according to Bill Lahey's own executive summary. The day DNRR makes "protecting and enhancing ecosystem health" its "overarching priority" will be the day we celebrate the implementation of the Lahey report. Then we can all start working together to restore the health of our forests and to create genuinely sustainable forestry practices. Until then, expect half-measures and evasion.

Nina Newington

Forest Defenders at winter camp

Beal's Brook is a Beauty, it's also at risk.A huge clearcut looms along one side of it. A clearcut DNRR permitted to go so close to the brook that the "forest" is barely more than a single band of trees along the eastern bank. Even though there is a buffer of sorts, the tall trees are susceptible to wind when the shelter they are used to is suddenly removed.

Book on Nova Scotia Species At Risk

Day 187 Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Camp: June 6, 2022
South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

Visitors come to camp and conversation turns to the urgent need to protect what is left of our older forests. And then we consider a government that has promised to protect 20% of our province by 2030 but won't even consider cancelling the cutting of this little forest, in spite of all the Species at Risk that depend on it.

And yet the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and Renewables (DNRR), in conjunction with Parks Canada and the Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute, puts out a guide to Species at Risk in Nova Scotia, telling us what we can do to help. Learning to recognize Species at Risk and reporting sightings is at the top of the list.

Here at Last Hope we have new Species at Risk to report: four different birds seen on or close to the proposed cut block in a single morning when a team of expert birders came to camp on June 1st. One is the Olive-sided flycatcher, heard and then seen by Beal's Brook. It is listed as Threatened both provincially and federally. What is at the top of the list of threats? "Forestry activities (clearcutting and even-aged planting.)"

Beal's Brook (and the associated wetlands) is ideal habitat for Olive-sided flycatchers — or at least it would be if there wasn't a huge clearcut along one side of it. A clearcut DNRR permitted to go so close to the brook that the forest is barely more than a single band of trees along the eastern bank. Even though there is a buffer of sorts, the tall trees Olive-sided flycatchers need are susceptible to wind when the shelter they are used to is suddenly removed.

The Lahey report recommends a review of the inadequate buffer zones logging operations are required to leave along streams and rivers. These are currently a measly 20m. Even Bowater Mersey left 30m. Wildlife biologists say that the endangered mainland moose needs a 60m buffer along watercourses if they are to travel and feed in them. So far, no action from the government.

Fortunately, the forest around Beal's Brook on the north side of the logging road is more intact. Long may that last.

Wouldn't it be something if we had a government that truly did value Species at Risk? That did what it promised? That listened to citizens who care? That honoured the Peace and Friendship treaties and respected the core concept of Msit Nokoma? Every bird, insect, tree is a relation. How would we treat nature if we, and our government, understood that whatever we do to nature, we do to ourselves? That' s a conversation worth having.

Forest Defenders at winter camp Book on Nova Scotia Species At Risk Photo of info re Nova Scotia Species At Risk Photo of page on Nova Scotia Species At Risk

Day 183 Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Camp: June 2, 2022
South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

SIX MONTHS at Last Hope Camp!

Last November, the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables told local residents, Randy Neily and Ian Thompson, that it was too late to stop the cut at Beal's Brook in Annapolis county. Randy and Ian said this forest was critical to wildlife, including several endangered species. DNRR replied that there were no species at risk to worry about. Their biologists had reviewed the site nor once, but twice.

On December 2, 2022, Forest Protectors and members of Extinction Rebellion set up camp where the cut was scheduled to start, on the site of the historic Last Hope moose hunting camp.

Six months on, the forest is still standing. Evidence is mounting about how important this little forest is to species at risk, from lichens to endangered birds to the American marten. (This last is about to be added to the endangered species list for the whole of Nova Scotia.)

How has DNRR responded? Well, it did put a freeze on the harvest following the discovery of the first rare lichen, the Frosted Glass-whisker lichen. Two other endangered species were discovered a few days later. In March. the Minister of Natural Resources and Renewables slapped buffers on the seven occurrences discovered to that point and called it good enough. The freeze was lifted.

Campers stayed put. The forest is still standing.

There are now 16 reported occurrences of species at risk lichens in that forest. We learned to identify these lichens and combed the woods for them. What has DNRR done? They have put the decision about whether to cut this forest in WestFor's hands. That's right, in the hands of a consortium of sawmills.

This makes no sense. Let's go back to that first lichen discovery, the Frosted Glass-whisker lichen. The single specimen discovered at Last Hope, in the heartwood of a very old red maple, is extremely rare. DNRR's own excellent "Species at Risk in Nova Scotia Identification and Information Guide (2nd Edition)" notes: "In Canada, six of the seven known locations of this species are in Nova Scotia. The seventh location is in British Columbia! It is only known in two locations in the United States."

The Guide also names two threats to the survival of the Frosted Glass-whisker lichen. One is "Forestry activities and land clearing." The other is "Our lack of knowledge about where this species is located." Until this specimen was discovered at Last Hope, the only known locations in Nova Scotia were in Cape Breton and on the South Shore.

So why isn't DNRR jumping at the chance to make this 24 hectare, easily accessed forest into a study area where they could learn about the habitat this and the other species at risk lichens found here require? They admit they need to improve their predictive modelling. What a golden opportunity.

But no. Far from acting to protect this forest, the Minister is trying to wash his hands of it.

Why have we been camped out for six months on a logging road? Because the government is not doing its job. Somebody has to protect nature if we want a liveable planet.

One promise: action feels far better than sitting at home despairing.
#biodiversityloss
#savetheforest

Protect Last Hope Wildlife Corridor