For one Canadian family, a generations-old love of Nova Scotia’s wilderness has translated into a generous gift of their beautiful private islands to the NCC.
A grouping of five islands along Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore has just been donated to the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) by a local family, part of an ever-increasing trend of islands moving from private back to public hands.
“We’ve maintained it always as nature provided it, and we’d like to have it maintained that way, so the Nature Conservancy seemed the logical people to entrust it to,” said Byrne Williams, whose clan has owned Mikes Islands, named after his grandfather, since the late 19th century.
Totalling 39 acres in size, the islands are a valued addition to the properties the NCC has under management in the area. Found in Musquodoboit Harbour, a sheltered inlet north of Halifax, plenty of pristine nature surrounds the islands, including forest and marshland habitats for seabirds, turtles, moose and wild cats. Environment Minister Peter Kent was ebullient at the donation. “This landmark project marks another achievement under our government’s Natural Areas Conservation Program,” he said.
In accordance with the wishes of the Williams family, the newly-protected area will proudly bear the name of the original purchaser – Captain Mike Williams, a keen mariner and schooner racer who passed his love for Nova Scotia’s outdoors down through many generations
According to Byrne Williams, difficulties in protecting and taking care of the islands meant that the time was right for a donation. The NCC, he said, seemed like the right fit. “It’s an interesting addition to their present holdings. Leaving it in good hands is our main motive,” he told the Chronicle Herald newspaper.
Craig Smith, the NCC’s program manager for Nova Scotia, said that protecting the islands from development could have a major impact on the area’s ecology. “When humans come in, they do things like install septic fields and cut down trees, which means the water moves a lot quicker on the landscape and brings more sediment into the system,” he explained. “They build seawalls to protect their shoreline, which prevents sediment from moving properly and actually destroys habitats.”
The NCC will be adding the Williams family’s islands to a growing portfolio of conservation properties in Musquodoboit Harbour; in 2011, the group brought under their care 477 acres of wilderness in the area, joining two existing natural parks with a natural corridor. With an incredible 24,500 acres of land under protection in Nova Scotia, the organization is doing its best to ensure the province no longer has the dubious distinction of being one of the least-conserved parts of Canada.
Follow this link to read more about the NCC and their great work: Link
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