The new year started off with a huge success for Nova Scotia’s preeminent nature trust, but buying 15 islands was only the beginning of this urgent conservation.
A rare species of North American turtle was guaranteed a safe home early this year after the Nova Scotia Nature Trust (NSNT) successfully raised funds to buy part of a remote lake. When offered the opportunity to purchase a 66-acre parcel of important conservation land by its private owner, the NSNT leapt into action and launched a blitz fundraising campaign.
Found deep in the province’s southwestern interior, Lake McGowan is a small piece of untouched wilderness, and one of the few sanctuaries left for the increasingly-threatened Blanding’s Turtle.
The 66 acres offered to the NSNT included 5.5 kilometres of unspoiled shoreline, a forested peninsula, and 15 small islands, all popular breeding grounds for the rare turtles.
With their smiling faces and brilliant yellow undersides, the Blanding’s Turtle charmed the local residents and corporate donors alike, and the NSNT was able to raise the needed $224,000 just in the nick of time. The group only had a month to come up with the purchase price, and while the Provincial Government was able to offer some assistance, a large part of the sum – well over half – had to come from private hands.
The NSNT had great success with an engaging Adopt-a-Turtle program, which brought in donations from over 150 people and created a buzz about the cute and colorful Blanding’s. Larger donors included diverse companies ranging from media outlets like the Chronicle Herald and several major banks, to firms like oil giant Esso and beauty products manufacturer Aveda.
Nature lovers across the province rallied to the turtles’ cause, and in January, the conservancy declared victory. However, while the McGowan Lake turtle sanctuary may have been saved, it’s too soon to celebrate for the Blanding’s turtles.
Human encroachment on breeding sites has decimated their population; leaving, according to the NSNT, only around 350 adults in the entire province. This spells trouble for the species’ future combined with the fact that, due to predation and environmental factors, less than 1% of hatchlings survive to adulthood.
If the turtles are going to be saved, creating a welcoming home and strong breeding program in the McGowan Lake islands will be essential. Donations and other forms of support all still being welcomed – please visit NSNT to find out more.
Read more about the NSNT purchase: link