blue-mountain-birch-cove-lakes

Blue Mountain - Birch Cove Lakes

Only a few kilometres from downtown Halifax, the Blue Mountain - Birch Cove Lakes wilderness is in need of more protection.

Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes is a magnificent wilderness located on the edge of Metro Halifax, near the communities of Rockingham, Fairview, Clayton Park, Wedgewood, and Timberlea. It’s two thousand hectares in size and contains over a dozen inter-connected lakes popular for swimming and canoeing in the summer, and skiing and skating in the winter. The area also boasts tremendous backcountry hiking opportunities, including a trail to the highest point of land on the Chebucto Peninsula at Blue Mountain Hill.

The Nova Scotia government has protected about two-thirds of the Blue Mountain - Birch Cove Lakes wilderness, when it established a legally-protected wilderness area on the provincial public lands in this area several years ago (map).  This was a major step forward in protecting this important wilderness, but work remains to be done.  Despite an existing commitment by the Halifax Regional Municipality to purchase and protect adjacent private lands for a regional wilderness park (map), the City has so far failed to acquire a single hectare of land for conservation.  This leaves the area vulnerable to development.

Conservation Significance

  • Large intact wilderness on the doorstep of Atlantic Canada's largest city
  • Wilderness recreation potential, including only canoe loop near Halifax
  • Over 150 species of birds, including loons, ospreys, pileated woodpeckers
  • Habitat for the endangered mainland moose
  • Rare artic-alpine plant; mountain sandwort
  • Clean, headwater lakes

The threat

Suburban sprawl

Poor urban planning has allowed hundreds and hundreds of hectares of intact wilderness on the edge of Halifax to be consumed by sprawling development. In places, this development has already overtaken parts of the Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes wilderness, and in others has crept right up to the boundary of the protected Wilderness Area and the future regional Regional Park.

Government inaction

The Halifax Regional Municipality promises to protect the Blue Mountain - Birch Cove Lakes wilderness as a regional park, but so far hasn't acquired any adjacent lands for conservation.  Meanwhile, the threat of development continues.

What CPAWS is doing

CPAWS has led the campaign to protect the Blue Mountain - Birch Cove Lakes wilderness, successfully advocating for the provincial government to establish a legally-protected wilderness area on public lands and for the Halifax Regional Municipality to commit to purchasing and protecting adjacent private lands for a regional park.  We've worked with leaders in the local community, carried out scientific assessments, led hikes into the wilderness, and communicated at every opportunity the long-term importance of protecting these lands.

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