STANDING COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES
Mr. James DeWolfe
MR. CHAIRMAN: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome back to the fall session of the Committee on Resources. A special welcome to those of you who are new on our committee, I hope you enjoy it as much as those of us who have been around for awhile. I think you will find it most interesting and fulfilling.
We have with us today and I am pleased to introduce Mr. Kermit deGooyer, Ecology Action Centre. Kermit, of course, is the gentleman in the middle, the rose between two petals or the other way around is it Kermit? To our right we have Pam Langille, Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association and on the left, Jennifer Archibald who is with the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia.
Welcome to all three of you. We are looking forward to having a presentation from you. I believe, Kermit, you will be starting it off. Is that correct?
MR. KERMIT DEGOOYER: That's correct.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Before we start, I would like to introduce the committee. We will be joined by a couple of colleagues a little later, so we will introduce them as they come in. Starting with Bill.
[The committee members introduced themselves.]
MR. CHAIRMAN: Normally we have a presentation from those in attendance and then we will have plenty of time to ask questions. So, without further ado, we will hand the chair right over to you, Kermit.
MR. DEGOOYER: Mr. Chairman, I am going to speak first, just on the general topic of introducing the Nova Scotia Public Lands Coalition and some of our concerns about Crown land use. After I speak, Jennifer Archibald will be speaking about the tourism industry perspective and that will be followed by Pam Langille with a bit of a talk on the Ship Harbour Long Lake Wilderness area.
MR. CHAIRMAN: While you're setting up, Kermit, I will just introduce John MacDonell, who has just joined us.
MR. DEGOOYER: I am not sure how many of you have heard of the Nova Scotia Public Lands Coalition, but we like to think of ourselves as a multi-stakeholder group of groups that are interested in Crown lands. We represent, I think, a very broad coalition that ranges from environmental groups to hunting and fishing organizations, some community organizations. We have a group representing the scientific community in Nova Scotia and also the tourism industry. The coalition might not agree on many different issues but we all have a similar perspective on how Crown lands in Nova Scotia should be used. Now, I have a hand-out here and I am going to pass it out in a minute which lists all our members as well as our vision statement, which is sort of a fluffy, philosophical kind of where we are coming from and also a very detailed position statement on Crown lands. So I am going to pass that out.
A lot of this information that we will be talking about today and some of the hand-outs, they are posted on our Web site, which is publicland.ca, I encourage you to check that out if you have any other questions that we don't answer for you, if there is not enough time.
Our vision for public lands is that most public lands should be used for conservation. That, in our mind, means most public land should be used for protection. If you look at a breakdown of land ownership in Nova Scotia, you will see that most of the land is privately owned. On this map, everything that is black is privately-owned land, everything that is in green is Crown land or publicly-owned land. When we talk about balance, I think everybody likes to have a balance of land uses but problems arise and different points of view when you start to define what balance means. In Nova Scotia, most of the private lands are open for resource development; very, very few private lands are protected, probably less than one-half of 1 per cent.
So, if in Nova Scotia we would like to see wilderness areas and all the benefits that they bring us and we want to have forestry and those resource extractive industries, then we think it is a good balance to dedicate a lot of the Crown lands to wilderness protection and those benefits because we know that the private lands, most of them will not be protected, because private landowners simply are not in the business of protecting land and it is not a role that we can expect of the private sector, there are just too many barriers to private land protection in Nova Scotia. Sometimes private land does get protected but it will never be protected on the scale that is required unless there are major tax breaks or the province finds
a lot of money to buy up land or probably some things which aren't likely to happen any time soon.
Why would the coalition like to have more land protected? Well, we think of protected lands as multi-use lands because we think that is where you get the real multiple uses. They are the places that protect habitat, that keep air and water clean, all those good environmental benefits. In Nova Scotia, there are a lot of people who really appreciate the back country. We have a lot of traditional users in Nova Scotia. We sometimes take it for granted but anglers and hunters and canoeists, they all benefit from having the places that they have grown up with left in a natural condition. There are new opportunities exploring the outdoors in terms of tourism. For future generations, of course, we want to keep this beautiful public land in Nova Scotia for people after us to enjoy and appreciate and receive all the benefits also.
Sometimes the economic benefits of protected areas get overlooked. I think this is a really important point because we are often led to believe or we hear that we have to choose between protection and economic benefits. This is a spread called Explore Your Land. This was done by the Halifax Regional Municipality, and this is not from an ecology journal but this is The Nova Scotia Business Journal, June 2001, and what HRM is doing, they are using Wilderness - Explore Your Land to market HRM, to try to attract businesses, families and companies to locate here because HRM can offer this quality of life. As you know, there are places throughout Nova Scotia where we still have wilderness that can be a great drawing card to attract investment and business. This ad talks about come explore our rugged coastline and green rolling hills and it talks about kayaking and birdwatching and all that sort of thing. So there are definitely economic benefits that get overlooked.
Here are a couple of studies that were done in the United States. This one was done for the southern Appalachians, which is like South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and that area. They looked at all the economic benefits that would come by protecting the remaining publicly-owned roadless areas there. They found that there would be more benefits to protecting land than actually logging it. This was another one that was done for the entire lower 48 United States, where they evaluated the economic benefits for protecting the remaining public forests there and they figured that based on recreation expenditures and property values going up around wilderness areas and investment and free services that wilderness does for us, like keeping our water clean and that sort of thing, that in the States they have about U.S. $880 million of economic activity from protecting land per year. In the States now, they have actually decided to put a moratorium on all blocks of public land that are still roadless over 1,000 acres, because they want to keep these types of opportunities.
If you look at the fine print - and you don't have to look now - of what the position statement is, you will see that the coalition is calling on many more wilderness areas in Nova Scotia, including areas that have been identified by various grassroots organizations and various communities across the province. I will put up a map of that later. We are also asking
that the remaining Crown lands that are still wilderness be put under legislation. That is something we don't expect to happen any time soon but it is sort of the long-term goal and it is pushing the envelope but there are definitely incremental steps that can happen so we can move in that direction before we ever get to that point, if in fact we do.
What we are looking for is not that different from what the province has already committed to in some ways. In 1992, the provincial government - this was the Donald Cameron Government - made a commitment that by the year 2000 wilderness would be protected in every different region of Nova Scotia. It was actually John Leefe and Terry Donahoe who signed on behalf of Nova Scotia. The idea was that by protecting a sample or a portion of every different region across Nova Scotia, like the Cape Breton Highlands or the Creignish Hills then you would be doing a pretty good job of capturing the diversity of the habitats and species in the province. So this is how we are doing today. On this map, the areas that are shown in green, and this is a map produced by the Department of Natural Resources, are the regions which the province says they have honoured that commitment for, they are protected to a satisfactory level. You can see the key in the top left corner.
So we think it is reasonable to use Crown lands, wherever possible, to try to protect land in these other regions like in Hants County and northern Colchester and Antigonish Counties where we don't have the protected areas but we do have Crown land and we have made a promise to try to protect more land in those regions. There is a policy supporting more wilderness areas.
I mentioned earlier that there were a lot of communities or community groups, some municipalities across the province that have put proposals before the provincial government to protect land in their region. This map is on our Web site. All these blue dots are active proposals that are now before the provincial government. Anywhere you see a blue dot here, there is a proposal that shows a map with the boundaries, why this area is important, why people in the area would like to see it protected and if you go on our Web site and you click on these blue dots, all that information will come up on the screen. I will just give you a couple of examples.
This one here is Fogartys Cove, which is just west of Canso, it has the whole Stan Rogers theme, it is a beautiful coastal area and it is a great example of how this part of the province can benefit from a protected wilderness area, because you can promote that as a place to come and enjoy the coast and walk and learn about Stan Rogers and all that sort of thing. There is a community group there that is working on trails and trying to market that whole peninsula.
Another is Ship Harbour Long Lake. There is a lot of community support. I won't have to talk about that, Pam will talk about that later. This is Gully Lake on the Pictou-Colchester line and there are a bunch of other ones there.
I will show you one example in detail. This is a proposal for a wilderness area in the Nictaux River watershed in Annapolis County. This was designed by the Annapolis Flyfishing Association, which has done a lot of habitat restoration work on the Nictaux River. What they have said is that they would like to see all the Crown lands in the Nictaux River water shed protected under the Wilderness Areas Protection Act. Part of the reason for that is, and I think it is fair to say it, there is not a lot of confidence in a lot of these places that these areas can be logged without having major impacts on the watercourses. In Annapolis County, the flyfishing association just doesn't want to take a chance. This proposal is endorsed by the Municipality of Annapolis County. There are about half a dozen of these where the local municipalities have put their support behind them. So that is just one example.
I have a media binder, and I am going to pass it around, it is just a collection of coverage about Crown land management in the past year or so and it talks mostly about the IRM process and I am going to talk about that just briefly but I will hand out this also which you can take one and pass along, it is just a snapshot of a few of the things in that binder.
The point I am trying to make here is that there is a lot of support for new wilderness areas in Nova Scotia and a lot of that support is coming from those rural communities where the wilderness is. We know that from the media coverage, from the editorials. There is even an editorial from the Digby Courier, which is in a region that historically has been dependent on logging saying that there shouldn't be any forestry on Crown lands, which is even further than we have said. This is a rural newspaper in Nova Scotia. You will see the other editorials there from New Glasgow and from Halifax.
We also know there is a lot of public support for wilderness areas because of the correspondence received at the Premier's Office. I called about a month ago and they told me that they had almost 600 letters just on Ship Harbour Long Lake and a few hundred on Gully Lake. We also know that there is support for new protected areas from this study that was done by the Nova Forest Alliance last summer - it was actually done by researchers at the Agricultural College in Truro. By about a 6 to 1 margin, people said that they did not agree with the statement that there was too much wilderness. So people are looking for more.
With all these indicators of a public aspiration to protect more Crown land, and we are only talking about public land, it begs the question of what direction is the province going in? This is the vision for Crown lands as announced by the Department of Natural Resources a year ago this month, September 2000. This is what is called the IRM plan. It is on our Web site. It is also on the department's Web site. What this shows is that the vision from the department is sort of going in the other directions from what we feel is really the public aspiration and what would offer the most benefits to Nova Scotia. On this map, the area shown in red, like this one here and these ones, most of them are already protected under legislation and a few of those red spots are areas that the department has agreed they will keep for protected uses, so they are not yet under legislation but they will probably end up there.
Everything that is in the light yellow, the light green, that is all Crown Land which is still open for resource development. In fact, over time, we feel if it is not protected, eventually it will be developed. Those green and yellow areas are open for logging and mining and roads and all that sort of thing.
If you consider that all the black area is also open for those industrial uses, then you start to see that we don't really have a good balance. Everybody wants that balance, but we feel that the Crown lands, because they are publicly owned and because they can be protected at little cost, ought to be used more as a counterbalance for everything that is happening, for all the development that is available to happen on the private lands.
We have a bit of a conflict because we have this vision by the Department of Natural Resources, which is that most Crown Land should be developed or be open for development, and we have a commitment from the province made in 1992 that we want to protect more lands. We know that it won't happen on private lands, so it has to come from the Crown lands. How do we resolve that?
We feel that it is important now for the areas that are still wilderness and the areas that are being promoted for protection to be placed under some sort of a development moratorium, so that as this conflict gets sorted out those areas which might merit protection are not lost. If we cut the remaining areas that we need to make that wilderness commitment of 1992, if we cut those areas that communities have said they want to see protected, then it is too late to go back and uncut them. If we put them under a moratorium and they are studied by the Department of Environment and Labour, and they decide they don't really contribute much to the protected-area objectives of the province then we can always start cutting on them, but you can't go the other way around.
We feel that this plan doesn't reflect the public aspirations, it doesn't reflect what people said at the public consultations that were held by the Department of Natural Resources, either in 1998, the first phase, or at the public open houses in the year 2000, last year. If you look through that binder that Bill is flipping through, you will see there is not a lot of good press on that IRM plan. There wasn't any kind of effort, I mean we all showed up, the people in the coalition. I went to one of the open houses in Lawrencetown, in the Annapolis Valley, and there were all kinds of people there that I had never seen or heard of saying the exact same things we were saying.
I think at times there is a role for politicians to sort of recognize what hasn't been recognized within the bureaucracy and to give some direction to the various departments involved. I think what is important now is that when we have these conflicts with Crown lands - IRM was supposed to resolve the conflicts but it hasn't done that - a moratorium is really important, then, letting the Environment Department assess the same Crown lands that the Natural Resources Department assessed, and then looking at what areas could be offered for protection.
One problem with this plan is that it is only one option, and it has never been costed out. We don't know and you don't know the costs and the benefits associated with going down this road. If there is another option presented, maybe the Department of Environment and Labour, maybe the Tourism and Culture Department wants to say some things about what should happen with Crown lands, then the politicians can consider the different costs and the benefits of the various options. As it stands now, we have one option. It is not a very popular option, and it probably won't offer the most benefits for Nova Scotia. I think I will leave it at that and let Jennifer talk about tourism.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Jennifer, will you be using the screen too? You may do your presentation from your seat, if you wish. If you are not using the screen, that's fine, you can sit down, relax and just talk into the mike.
MS. JENNIFER ARCHIBALD: Good morning, it is a pleasure to be here. At the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia, we consider tourism to be everybody's business. Whether you are on the supply side of tourism, providing products and services, or on the demand side, as a guest or a visitor, we are all a part of the complexity of people that make up the business of tourism.
For the fourth consecutive year, tourism industry revenues have topped $1 billion. That means that the 2000 tourism revenues were $1.256 billion. There are over 6,500 jobs, over 40,000 Nova Scotians work in tourism. The estimated payroll for 2000 was $487 million. The provincial and municipal tax revenues totalled over $117 million. Obviously this is quite significant.
The Sustainable Tourism Division of TIANS, which I represent was established in 1993. Our mandate has been guided by two words, responsibility and sustainability; how to maximize opportunities in a responsible way to ensure appropriate, sustainable tourism activities. The billion dollar tourism industry in Nova Scotia depends on a healthy environment, the availability of fresh air, clean water and green space influence a traveller's choice on where to stay, eat, relax and play.
The perception of Nova Scotia as a protectorate and responsible province in the care of wild lands and wildlife has tremendous value in making this province a destination of choice. Visitors come to Nova Scotia because of our hospitality, our unspoiled seacoasts, our green forests and our abundant wildlife. The effect of clear-cutting all but minimal buffer zones on the esthetics of the province's view planes and vista is obvious to all. One of the hidden harms is the effect on freshwater fishing, adventure tourism and all nature-based activities. We need a plan, we need legislation and we need to protect our inheritance to ensure we leave a legacy for the future. That is our responsibility.
TIANS supports the position and call to action proposed by the Nova Scotia Public Lands Coalition, but we also add that the province as a steward of remaining public lands has the responsibility to protect them for future generations; that the tourism industry must be at the table in developing long-range management plans for public lands; the business case, value and vision of tourism must be considered and incorporated into regional and local IRM plans; that a development moratorium be placed on potential and proposed protected sites to keep them intact until an assessment or designation as protected sites are completed; that the Department of Natural Resources identifies existing commitments for development and embarks on a transparent, re-negotiation of timber agreements and land leases to accommodate wilderness proposals; that the Crown affords legal protection of public lands, necessary to meet Nova Scotia's commitment of completion of Canada's networks of protected areas.
Crown lands can be promoted as tourism destinations, drawing visitors seeking genuine wilderness travel. Legal protection also offers the security that unique and beautiful areas of our province can be marketed and promoted for tourism one year and not lost to development in the next. Legal protection will allow for long-range management, planning that incorporates the values and visions of stakeholders and ensures the future of tourism; that the Crown affords immediate legal protection of coastlines and islands owned by the Crown.
The global image of Nova Scotia as a clean, natural province to vacation in requires more protected lands and coastal access. We have no control over 70 per cent of Nova Scotia, which is privately owned, nor do we have control over 95 per cent of coastline, which is in private hands and which may be developed over time. Nova Scotia markets itself to the world as Canada's Ocean Playground and a seaside destination. Fifty-nine per cent of visitors polled in a recent exit survey indicated their primary interest and activity related to experiencing the outdoors was beach walking and it was the number one activity.
Today tourism is anxious to be a partner in planning for the future. That will include the celebration of our natural heritage. The issues, as tourism sees it, are management, respect, responsibility and partnership. Thank you.
MR. CHAIRMAN: We will move right along. I believe Pam Langille will give us a presentation. Just as a reminder, Pam is with the Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association.
MS. PAMELA LANGILLE: My name is Pamela Langille. I am a mother and I am here today in part to model responsible citizen participation for my children. I represent the grassroots organizations that Kermit was talking about, who, within their own communities have met, discussed and tried to figure out solutions that are going to meet the needs of our communities, our children and our grandchildren. It is not often that a person like I has the opportunity to speak to so many elected representatives at one time. I greatly appreciate this opportunity and I thank you.
I am a member of the Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association and I am here to tell you about our passionate desire to have the proposed Ship Harbour Long Lake area protected. I have also, through the Forest Watch and other organizations, become an active representative at the Nova Forest Alliance, the model forest here, and I have been participating on several committees for the past year and a half and I have learned an awful lot. For the past six months I have been heading up Nova Scotia's first low impact forestry initiative, which is a project of the Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association.
I understand that Minister Fage has been advised that the Forest Watch's attitude toward clear-cutting is extreme and that we don't want to see any trees cut. I suggest we have gone a long way towards educating ourselves and understanding the factors involved. I have included in the package that was passed out, a brochure on our upcoming low impact forestry sessions. I am not here to talk about forestry practices, however, our efforts in low impact forestry, I think, deserve a point.
Low impact forestry leaves behind something that industrial forestry does not. Here is a picture of industrial forestry, I don't know if you can see that very well, and this was taken in the Ship Harbour Long Lake area. This is a slide of low impact forestry operation also within the Ship Harbour Long Lake area. You can see that it leaves behind a functional forest, so at the heart of low impact forestry is the goal of maintaining a healthy and diverse native forest environment, while extracting high-quality wood from it forever.
Low impact forestry is part of a three part strategy to save and restore forests. It is similar to the three R's of waste reduction and we all know that Nova Scotia is considered world class in this area. I look forward to the day our forest practices and decisions are likewise widely considered world class. I think we have the potential here in Nova Scotia.
Any strategy to protect forest biodiversity and ensure the sustainable use of forest products would have to contain these three parts of a strategy. The first one is reserves, protected areas. The second is low impact forestry and the third is demand reduction, the issue of consumption. Those three play together as to what the future of our forests are going to be. They are interconnected and integral to sustainable forests.
We need protected areas, we need wild, unmanaged areas as a baseline against which to manage our impacts and as a place to allow and study the natural processes and forest dynamics. We need reserves to ensure all habitats and species are protected, including ones that are sensitive to human encroachment or that require old growth. We also need wild places for spiritual renewal. This is certainly something that has come up at the Nova Forest Alliance table as a value of woodlot owners, people working in the woods, contractors, and so on. Ship Harbour Long Lake is ideal in this regard. That was originally proposed by our association in November 1999.
This is the entrance to Ship Harbour Long Lake and this is pretty well where we started from. We got the aerial photographs from the Terminal Road office and we put them
all together and came up with this plan. This is the Tangier-Grand Lake wilderness area which is already protected and this is the White's Lake wilderness area, which is also protected. This is largely Crown land - these are blocks of private land - that comprise the Ship Harbour Long Lake area. Here is Ship Harbour Long Lake and the slide I showed was taken at this area. This is private land, this is Lake Charlotte here.
The entrance of Ship Harbour Long Lake that I showed in the picture requires a portage to get to it, so in that way it is a natural way of keeping motorized watercraft out of the area and allows that experience of wilderness travel to be there. Here is the Fish River, I will be mentioning that. Anyway, this is the area here. Maybe just for these slides, because they are so incredibly beautiful, I will turn out the lights and put them on again. So there is the entrance to the Ship Harbour Long Lake area and this is what it looks like as you go down. Ship Harbour Long Lake itself has 10 kilometres of coastline that is presently undeveloped.
This is on the west side of the Ship Harbour Long Lake area. You can see the nature of the forest that is there, it is really quite wild and rugged. Again, this pertains to some comments I was looking at in the presentation given to this committee by Eldon Gunn, Chairman of the Nova Forest Alliance and Wade Prest, who is a forester. Both of them were speaking to you about their concern for the future of our natural Acadian forest, given the forest industry direction. This is a lovely example of our natural Acadian forest.
MR. JOHN MACDONELL: That's quite steep.
MS. PAMELA LANGILLE: Yes, it is steep. It is rugged and is definitely wild land.
This is a slide that was taken in the spring when we had our wake in the woods the year before. It was a picnic in a clear-cut in the Liscomb Game Sanctuary and there are some members of our organization, as well as members of the public, who went all the way back into Ship Harbour Long Lake simply to join with us and make a statement about how we feel about current practices and to celebrate what is there in Ship Harbour Long Lake and reinforce the request for protection. That was on the banks of the Fish River.
This is probably a few minutes away, just taken off the Murchyville Road, which is also in this area. This is being clear-cut, it is being planted as you can see, but you can see that it is a long way from the Acadian forest that is there in the area. This picture was taken at the very head of Ship Harbour Long Lake, the northern area, looking down the length of Ship Harbour Long Lake. The controversial cut-block area with the road and so on would be in this area here and you can see why we are so concerned about it.
Here is an aerial shot of the industrial forestry techniques. You can see there are buffers left along and there are wilderness chunks and corridors and so on, but those things really - when you look at them - are a band-aid for clear-cutting and it does not offer the kind
of protection that we feel is essential for the Ship Harbour Long Lake area and our public lands in general.
MR. MACDONELL: Is that near Ship Harbour Long Lake?
MS. PAMELA LANGILLE: I'm not exactly sure where this slide came from. I do have one that was taken in the Ship Harbour Long Lake area.
Here is a picture that shows where the road ends, where the proposed road construction is to go 6.3 kilometres into that area, between this bridge and the Ship Harbour Long Lake area.
Here is an aerial photograph of the Ship Harbour Long Lake area. Again, the proposed cut area would be in here and you can see Lake Charlotte in the background going down towards the No. 7 Highway.
Another feature of the Ship Harbour Long Lake area is it will be the only wilderness area in Nova Scotia that provides access from the ocean into our inland waterways and in terms of sea kayaking and so on, it is really quite a special thing. That would be by making an entrance from Jeddore Harbour.
This photograph was taken in the area of Ship Harbour Long Lake, so it shows the kind of cutting going on in the area.
This is also a piece of private land in the vicinity. This is old-growth forest, this hasn't been cut. Some areas of Ship Harbour Long Lake have those properties and if left, it will all become like this. This is the Acadian forest in its natural beauty and glory.
So we are recommending the protection of the Ship Harbour Long Lake area. We are asking for a wilderness study by the Department of Environment and Labour. We are asking for a halt on further development until we get all the facts on the table and have a look. I just received a letter and actually I can pass around this one . . .
MR. CHAIRMAN: Excuse me, you will have to stay near the microphone.
MS. PAMELA LANGILLE: There is a blue binder on the go and the black one and they both show photographs and letters of support of Ship Harbour Long Lake. Just last night I received a letter further to a presentation we did at the Sheet Harbour and Area Chamber of Commerce, that has asked for the protection. They talked about the clear-cutting in the area, what it does for people who are coming to do business in Sheet Harbour, that these people mention it, not to mention the tourism values which Jennifer has well explained. That letter is available in the binders too and that I received just last night.
In the package that I have put out there is a list of public support, the general public. In the handout it says there are 2,400 signatures on petitions and this was done in early September but we actually have over 2,700 signatures on petitions. It is amazing the response that there is. I was present at the wilderness day that was in Fishermans Cove in Eastern Passage a week ago Sunday and picked up several sheets of our petitions being signed, people familiar with the Ship Harbour Long Lake area who are interested in the photographs, development and so on.
We also have 154 businesses on the Eastern Shore who have signed on to support the protection of Ship Harbour Long Lake, this is in addition to the signatures on petitions. As well you can see the response from our politicians with growing support from HRM, through to our MLAs and our Member of Parliament.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Does that end your presentation Pam?
MS. PAMELA LANGILLE: Yes.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much and thank you to Jennifer and Kermit as well for a very interesting presentation. For the next hour or so we will open the floor for questions. This is the fun part for you, to provide the answers that we are looking for.
Mr. Bill Langille.
MR. WILLIAM LANGILLE: I want to thank you people for your presentation. Mr. Chairman, a bit about my background, I have Canadian Tree Farm No. 3 in Nova Scotia and I am also a conservationist, I raise rainbow, speckled and salmon fish. I also live three miles from Gully Lake and Mr. Epstein has a farm there too, approximately three miles from there . . .
MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: A cabin would be more accurate.
MR. WILLIAM LANGILLE: . . a cabin also in the area, along with the member for Pictou West. Kermit, Mark Bennett, the member for Pictou West and myself have met on Gully Lake. On the slide you presented, Kermit, if you will notice the northern part of Nova
Scotia has the least amount of Crown land but it also has the least amount of wilderness areas that are already designated.
For the last two years I have been lobbying strong within our caucus to have a portion of Gully Lake set aside as a wilderness area. But I am also a realist and I look at why we need a portion of that area. We need a portion of that area because it forms the head waters for three rivers but do I believe all of it? No. I don't believe you can conserve all Crown lands. We have an industry to support in Nova Scotia and we are also looking at a renewable resource.
I want to take you back in time to about 50 years ago. Growing up 50 years ago or longer, you had men who went into the woods all winter who cut and used horses to get their logs out, at the end of that select cutting you would have maybe a snake trail through the woods and that would be the damage. There are 200 acres just in behind my house that is owned by a lady from Germany who has never stepped foot on that property since she bought the property and on Sunday I noticed it is now being cut. As I walked up to the clear-cut being cut by Stora I noticed three foot ruts in the ground where the machinery had been going. I also thought of the many sleepness nights that I had this summer because they don't use a crew, they don't use chainsaws anymore, they use all heavy equipment. Having said that, they might employ six or a half a dozen people and then you have your logging trucks. I gave them access through my property, just down from my house because you can't have a landlocked property. But when I gave the access, I couldn't give a 20 foot access, I had to give 60 feet, so you get a 60 foot access road. These are the widths of the roads that do go through your area.
I also think of our secondary industries. Now, in my area I have two industries. One is no longer in existence, North Shore Lumber, and the other one is having a rough time. The other secondary industry there is making hardwood flooring. A hardwood flooring industry is based on the economy. I talked to them last week, because I knew they were cutting in behind my house and I knew there would be hardwood logs available. I talked to them last week and they are out of logs. They have to import them from New Brunswick, Quebec and the United States.
If you look at our logs, on our Crown land we are not allowed to ship round logs out of the province, but you are on private land. We have the resources, however, they get around this by, Crown land, squaring their logs and shipping them out that way. I have also approached to see how many logs are going out of the province, hardwood logs. At the time I approached them there was no tracking available, to see how many logs went out of the province. I know there is nothing coming in, per se, except for a few truck loads of logs like for this private industry, for hardwood flooring and so on. What is going out of the province? There is no tracking. I am told there is going to be a tracking in place in the future, but I have yet to know what it is.
I think we have an obligation to protect our industries. We have more obligation to protect secondary industries, such as making the finished product. I don't think we can think about putting all Crown land as wilderness areas, but I do think there is room for improvement. I think there is room for improvement at Gully Lake. I will be lobbying in the future, as I have been, along with the MLA for Pictou West for Gully Lake, that portion, but I will also be lobbying for our secondary industries to have better access to our resource.
Your pictures on Ship Harbour were beautiful. Where they are planning to cut, I think there should be an enforcement of a water buffer zone when we do cut along the rivers and lakes and along highways, I have seen on our routes and highways where they cut right up to the highway. I think there should be a substantial buffer zone behind it. The thing that we must take into consideration, when you cut, it is not pretty, and when you clear-cut, it is even worse.
We have to take into consideration that it is a renewable resource, and we have to take it into consideration that you are looking at a generation in between our resources. It is not like mining, once you take it out of the ground, you cannot put it back in. It is a renewable resource. I think that we have to be compatible with the industry, and I think we have to have a better understanding, and I believe the industry has to have a better understanding with the environmentalists, also, and there should be more dialogue between the environmentalists, the industry and government. I don't think everybody will be satisfied, that is for sure, but I think we can get a better understanding, and maybe a movement in the right places. I do believe that we need more wilderness areas in Nova Scotia.
I will just conclude by saying that Nova Scotia is unique in that only 28 per cent is owned by the Crown, the rest is private. Compared to other provinces, this is a very low percentage of land that is owned by the Crown. I think we also have to look to Sweden to see what they are doing, because they do have some control over private land in Sweden. I think we should look to them and see how they are controlling their forests. Thank you.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Who wants to respond to that?
MR. DEGOOYER: I will offer a comment and maybe Pam or Jennifer would like to add something. There is no question that forestry practices on Crown land and on private land have to be drastically improved. We know from the studies, opinion surveys done by the Nova Forest Alliance that there is a lot of public support for that. One of the questions they asked was, would you support provincial regulations to control clear-cutting, and 84 per cent of the people in this survey, which is rural and urban central Nova Scotia, said yes. You are absolutely right.
In terms of public land, I guess we sort of look at what is the role of government and what is the role of the private sector in using these public lands. Because of this unique situation, with only 28 per cent of our land being Crown land, it doesn't make sense for most of that Crown land, about 80 per cent of it currently, to be available for private industry and 20 per cent of it to be protected. Is that the best use of the Crown land? For example, in northern Colchester County and Pictou County, as you said, Gully Lake is the only large tract of Crown land there, and if a portion of that or the whole thing isn't protected as wilderness, there won't be a wilderness area for any part of the region. I guess the Crown land, in our view, has to fulfill that role which the private sector can't do.
Just one comment, you mentioned the dialogue between us and industry and that sort of thing. One way to gauge whether a plan is balanced, and I am talking about the IRM plan, is to gauge the reaction to that plan. What you would expect, if the plan was truly balanced, would be that not everybody got what they wanted, nobody was satisfied, but everybody said, well, we didn't get everything we wanted but we got some things and we can live with it. Not everybody is thrilled, but it is the best they could do. If you look at the reaction to the IRM plan, the forest industry, there was a spokesperson from the forestry industry quoted in the Atlantic Forestry Review earlier this spring saying, the Department of Natural Resources did an excellent job. MacTara, in speaking to the Standing Committee on Economic Development also said that they had glowing reviews of the IRM process, the same thing with the Chamber of Mineral Resources, when they spoke to this group. They all really like it, and just about everybody else hates it. If one camp thinks it is great and everybody else thinks it is terrible, then the balance probably wasn't reached. I think the public reaction has to be taken into account.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Jennifer, do you have any comments, or Pam?
MS. ARCHIBALD: From the tourism aspect, I think it is important to remember that maybe right now we can't develop these certain areas for tourism, maybe we don't have the finances, maybe we don't have the vision, but it is important to see what we could be doing with this land in 10 or 20 years, and to make sure that if an area is unique and if an area is special that we preserve it so that someday we can develop it and use it in a tourism aspect, which is working with business and working with the environment.
MS. PAMELA LANGILLE: I found your discussion really interesting, and I could comment quite a bit. Certainly, at the Nova Forest Alliance there are many discussions along those lines. I agree with the kinds of concerns you have for the secondary industry, the value-added, and so on, and the supports, the raw timber going out. I would very much like to see more work done in this area. However, to come back to the issue of our public lands and so on, I also concur with Kermit, where we have so little public land and no control over the development on private land that it seems it is crucial now to be protecting as much of what remains wild land now as possible.
MR. CHAIRMAN: We will move to John MacDonell.
MR. MACDONELL: Thank you very much for your presentation. I found it really interesting, as I think practically any presentation I hear from any of you people is, educational. I am interested in the issue of Ship Harbour Long Lake. It wouldn't be the only access to the ocean, inland, because the Shubenacadie River system would do that as well. I live on the end of Grand Lake, so I am aware. I had a conversation with a good friend of mine who lives in the Middle Musquodoboit area on that. Actually I think next week he and I are planning to go there.
According to him, there is an historical aspect to a route, I think it may be part of what is going to be developed as a road, but he says it is a Mi'kmaq trail from Sheet Harbour, I think, up through. There isn't much private land through that system, as you indicated on your slide. Is there one private property that has been cut there by Scott Paper or Kimberly-Clark already?
MS. PAMELA LANGILLE: Yes.
MR. MACDONELL: Yes. I think his indication was that part of that original trail had been obliterated in that process. I was interested in the slide, I asked if it was steep there. He indicated it was more fjord-like along that lake. Is that true, is it quite steep?
MS. PAMELA LANGILLE: In parts it is but in other parts it is not.
MR. MACDONELL: I am kind of on a personal fact-finding mission, just kind of preparing myself for my next move there. I think we have to get away from the idea of our forests purely as biomass. Mr. Langille isn't entirely wrong in what he says, as a matter of fact he may not be wrong on any of it, I just disagree with most of it. The notion that it is renewable, of course, absolutely, he is right there. His indication of how they harvest on the plot behind him, where he gave access, is very true. Our forest practices today don't generate as many jobs as they used to, and I think that is all the more reason why we have to be more vigilant that we are not giving away the resource practically with no gain to society.
It used to be an easy call to say, we are going to create x number of jobs, but we are not doing that. We even see the technology in the mills improving to the point where we are putting people out of work, and the technology in the harvesting side has gotten to the stage where we are not creating any jobs there. We can run a machine 24 hours, three eight-hour shifts. Actually, if we wanted to be sensible about this - that would be strange for a politician - we really should be putting our efforts more on the silviculture side or the management side, divert our harvesting practices more as treatments of stands, and thereby trying to put more people on the ground, use more selective harvesting techniques.
In all the talk of the sustainability fund and the dollars that are going into it, we really should be creating more jobs on that side, in the forestry industry since we are creating less on the harvesting side. I don't see more jobs being created there. Actually even the people in the silviculture industry are complaining that the dollars don't seem to be coming to that side of the industry.
Kermit, I wanted to ask you if you thought that the survey that was done by the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, if we didn't clear cut, if there was a ban on clear-cutting as the major harvesting practice, and I am not ruling it out as a treatment, there may be some sites where maybe it would be good to go in to clear cut, based on age, disease, whatever, but if results of the survey had been different, if clear-cutting is 98 per cent of the way we harvest and if Nova Scotians saw something different, that there was a selective method, I really would like to know more about the low impact, I hadn't seen that term but I like it, I just wondered if your thoughts would be that the survey would have been different if there was no clear-cutting in the province or very little?
MR. DEGOOYER: Do you mean the aspiration for wilderness?
MR. MACDONELL: Yes.
MR. DEGOOYER: Perhaps. I think a lot of people recognize that if an area is not protected under legislation, that if it is cut, it will be trashed. People don't have a lot of faith that when an area is logged it will be carefully cut, using the methods that Pam talked about. On Crown land, there is no reason to believe that an area like Ship Harbour Long Lake won't be really destroyed if it is cut. You saw the slide there with the buffer strip and the little ring around the lake. When you hear the Department of Natural Resources talking about taking into account - this came out when it was found that this road was proposed in Ship Harbour Long Lake - they speak of considering recreational values and ecological values and that they will be careful, they are talking about buffer strips along the river and little wildlife clumps. You can't protect wilderness by protecting the appearance of wilderness. That seems to be the direction they are going.
Just a comment on that Mi'kmaq trail that you mentioned, I had heard about that also. Apparently the Mi'kmaq would use the Lake Charlotte-Ship Harbour Long Lake corridor to access the Musquodoboit River system, because once you go from the ocean, up Lake Charlotte, up Ship Harbour Long Lake, you are very close to the watershed divide which gets you into the Musquodoboit River system and into the interior of Nova Scotia. I believe that trail that you were talking about goes through - the way I heard the story - Kimberly-Clark's private land, which was cut as you saw on the slide there.
MR. MACDONELL: I think it runs into the Gays River system, which brings you right into the Shubenacadie - or close to the Shubenacadie - system and actually takes you right out to the Bay of Fundy. You could get from Sheet Harbour right through to the Bay
of Fundy, which makes it that much more interesting. I just want to make a note and then I will relinquish. I know of two or three operators in the woods, contractors who work with horses. They are so busy that they are turning away work, they can't even think of keeping up with the demand. People would like to have them come in and harvest their woodlots. I do know of another one - I haven't been to see the operation but I am aware of it, actually I have seen a videotape of them working - which is slightly more advanced but it is a horse operation as well.
I know that my youngest brother was a forest technician for Laurie Ledwidge Lumber Company and he just went as a contractor recently on his own and bought a machine. That machine is designed for selective cutting. Having seen it in operation, I may go there and think, oh, I don't like this at all, but that is the trend. I think people are becoming aware, and I think to the credit of Ledwidge Lumber, who were instrumental in helping him along with that, they were eager to see whether or not it was possible to get machinery that would do a reasonable selective cutting job. I think there is a learning curve there, but I think people are willing to venture in that direction and this is not a small mill. Anyway, that is more food for thought. Thank you.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Do you want to make a comment?
MS. PAMELA LANGILLE: I want to make a comment further to the low impact forestry. Our project is the first initiative in Nova Scotia with that name on it but there has been quite an initiative in the Province of New Brunswick, which many of you may be aware of, basically calling for a low impact forestry on all Crown land. There is also an initiative in Maine which has been going on for some time. From our Web site you can actually link to those sites and they are really quite extensive. They deal with the economics of low impact forestry, the type of equipment, whether you use horses or the small machines like you are referring to and show layout of trails and sort of a lot of the factors that are involved. So that is information there.
Also, about the access to Ship Harbour Long Lake from the ocean, what I mean wasn't that it was the only one but it was the only in a wilderness and it would be in a protected wilderness area.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Barry Barnet.
MR. BARRY BARNET: A couple of quick questions to Pam just for clarification. You refer to Acadian forest and I think I know what that is but could you just clarify it? It is my understanding that it is an area within a forest that has all species of Nova Scotia trees within a small confined area. Is that what you were talking about?
MS. PAMELA LANGILLE: Yes, exactly. In the flyer that I handed out there is a description that outlines the Acadian forest and the thing is, the Acadian forest is comprised of some longer-lived species, like our red spruce, which is our provincial tree, and our yellow birch, our white pine and eastern hemlock. Unfortunately, when you do the clear-cutting, because those species can live anywhere from 200 years to 250 years and in the case of the eastern hemlock, 800 years, when you are clear-cutting, you are missing that kind of thing and you are only getting the rotations of the shorter-lived species that normally wouldn't comprise such a major component of the natural Acadian forest.
MR. BARNET: The second thing is that you said that the Ship Harbour Long Lake area had old growth properties. It is not an old growth forest, it just has properties of old growth. Is that what you are saying?
MS. PAMELA LANGILLE: Yes.
MR. BARNET: My final question is to Kermit. We met a month or so ago and at our meeting, along with Anna MacCarron, you talked about the Florida model or a system in the State of Florida where they have developed some protection of private lands, I believe. Could you just in a brief way - I am not quite sure exactly what you said at the time and I just want to hear it again.
MR. DEGOOYER: Florida, as you can well imagine, would be sort of the extreme end of the spectrum in terms of areas that are being heavily developed. In Florida, they realize there is so much development going on and because of the public support for holding on to wilderness areas down there, the State of Florida dedicated I believe it was U.S. $3 billion over 10 years to purchase private property to put together a network of core reserves and corridors throughout the State of Florida. It is a 10 year plan to identify the areas that are still wilderness and need protection the most, to acquire them and put them all together.
There are two interesting points about that, one of them is that the State of Florida, and this is the government, has a vision. They have identified what they want Florida to look like in 10 years or 100 years and identified all the areas that they want to set aside and how to connect them up. The other interesting point I think about that - and this is happening throughout the United States and it is a lesson that Nova Scotia could learn - is that where you don't have public land or you don't hang on to the public wild land that you do have, then you face very expensive options in the future. I don't know how much public land they have in Florida but I do know in the State of Maine where they don't have a lot of public land, that the State of Maine, in the past few years, has offered a bond issue. I think it was in the neighbourhood of U.S. $50 million to purchase land for protection.
One concern that we have is if we don't protect a large portion of the remaining Crown land that we have today, what is going to happen, as the population continues to go up, particularly in a place like HRM and as public pressure for wilderness continues to build,
the province will be in a situation where they won't be able to protect those Crown lands which were wilderness 10 years ago or now and the province will be under pressure to spend a lot of money to buy private lands which are undeveloped because they missed the opportunity to protect the Crown lands which they could have protected for free.
MR. BARNET: Are you aware of their progress in acquiring this private land?
MR. DEGOOYER: In Florida? No, I am not.
MR. CHAIRMAN: We will now turn to Bill.
MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Thank you, folks. It is nice to see you again today. It is always refreshing to hear your comments, especially when we talk about the Eastern Shore. I thank the committee here for their comments today. I would have to tell you that this issue is very much sensitive to me. It is a very sensitive issue simply because I am representing the area of Ship Harbour Long Lake. I could probably sit here and tell you how I got involved and where I am today but my position is very clear and I think everyone in Nova Scotia is aware now that I am encouraging the government that I am a part of, to do a wilderness study on the Ship Harbour Long Lake area. We talked about 28 per cent of lands in Nova Scotia are Crown lands and we seem to focus on that but remember, 72 per cent are private lands and many of the private landowners now are harvesting or clear-cutting or trying to seek benefit off their woodland. I can understand this, especially on the Eastern Shore.
Back some time ago when we would drive past a clear-cut or an operation in process, you would probably see 10 or 12 vehicles. You would clearly understand at that time, 10 or 12 guys are in the woods with their power saws trying to cut as quickly as possible to get their quota in that day to make a living. They would get paid their $500 or $600 a week and come home and pay for their oil, their lights and feed and clothe their children and we appreciated that because you know on the Eastern Shore there isn't much industry. So we traditionally made our living from the fishing, the mining, the logging but something has changed. When you go by an operation today, you will see two half-ton trucks and a harvester. Clearly, on the Eastern Shore, it is not necessary that that harvester is from the Eastern Shore. It is probably contracted from some other part of Nova Scotia. So that has great concern on the impact on the employment on the Eastern Shore.
Just yesterday I was involved with an issue on the West Jeddore Road of clear-cutting where a number of people living there had called my office complaining about an operation that was taking place 24 hours a day and that they weren't getting their sleep, their rest, and some other issues, called the municipality, had it investigated, as that would be the process. Still, not doing that only with not understanding the issue, I am wondering why they are harvesting 24 hours a day. Well, they are harvesting 24 hours a day simply to produce enough wood to sell to pay for their machine. So when you look at the big picture, the person who
has manufactured and processed the machine is getting the money out of the forestry on the Eastern Shore, not our local people any more.
Clearly, we talked about tourism and you know the Eastern Shore, you know that tourism is very important to us. You know that we have kayaking, we have the boat tours, we have nature trails. This is something that we are starting to rely on. We do not have major theme parks so we do not really have any attraction other than of the forest or the beauty of the forest to attract people. Tourism on the Eastern Shore is calculated by how many bed sales and I always argue this point. There is a lot more going on on the Eastern Shore with tourism other than the people who are passing by staying at the hotels along there too. So there should be some kind of a gauge that we could use to say how many tourists are actually walking in woods or trails and so on and so forth.
This has been a battle, I must say, that I have involved myself in, one I am sure that is not going to be an easy one. I understand the beauty, I understand the resource but basically what I am trying to do, Mr. Chairman, is try to find out the impact of a forest operation or a harvest operation or a clear-cut, whichever term you want to use, on Ship Harbour Long Lake. How will it affect the people on the Eastern Shore? What benefit would they receive? How would it affect the trout in the streams? What about the old growth forests? I have been talking with Forest Watch Association, talking with the Department of Natural Resources and also some people, now, clearly from the industry. They convinced me that it is a garden, it will grow back. We have to be concerned about what happens if a fire should come and remove it all and you gain no benefit. They are all good points.
As the MLA, I have to make a decision, clearly, to support the harvest operation in Ship Harbour Long Lake or not. I would like to be able to base that decision on facts that are presented from the Department of Environment and Minister David Morse. My colleagues have been listening to me. I have been making presentations at many opportunities that I have had to do this, but I believe something that is so large, so big, such an impact on the riding that I represent, we have to make decisions with the facts presented.
Remember this, it is not just the 28 per cent that I am worried about, it is the clear-cutting that is taking place on the Eastern Shore now with the private lands. It is pretty hard to go in and tell someone who is paying taxes on private land, no, you cannot clear cut. The Eastern Shore is such a large riding, from Lawrencetown to Ecum Secum that you are missing the pockets as you drive by, but if you are aware of it you can look in the roads and from the aerial shots and now see that there is a tremendous amount of clear-cutting taking place on the Eastern Shore. The industry is looking for a particular size log or piece of wood, and the Eastern Shore is sponsoring that log. That is what makes it more dangerous than anything I am afraid.
We have a responsibility, as the government, to produce a certain amount of fibre, I am aware of it and appreciate and understand that. Many jobs do arise from the forest industry, but as the MLA for Eastern Shore I want the facts presented to me so that I can make a decision. I don't know if you need to comment on that, you have heard that story before. I thank you once again for supplying me with the information necessary to properly represent this issue, and on we go.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Would anyone care to respond?
MR. DEGOOYER: You touched on a perfect point and that is, you as the MLA do not know what the costs and the benefits of a wilderness area are compared to the costs and benefits of using that land for forestry. You are not the only one, because there are 20 dots on that map, there are 20 proposals before the government, and the politicians, the municipal politicians and the people in the communities can listen to us, they might believe us, they might not. They can listen to industry, they may or may not believe them. But, no one has taken the two different scenarios and costed them out.
With Ship Harbour Long Lake, along with Gully Lake and Eigg Mountain, the proposals that have been around for a long time, the evaluations for those, done by the Department of Environment, should be fast-tracked because they have earned it, they have been on the books for a couple of years. What is going to happen, what the government is probably going to start seeing, if it hasn't happened already is that after Gully Lake, Eigg Mountain, Ship Harbour Long Lake are dealt with, and some additions to the Tobeatic that have to be evaluated and the wilderness area in Cumberland County and a couple in Cape Breton, there will always be a kind of reactive response that has to come from the government, on a piece-by-piece, parcel-by-parcel basis.
What might be something that the government would want to consider is to give direction to the Department of Environment to say, in recognition of these proposals and the public interest that has come for wilderness areas, including some proposals coming from within the department, we would like to see the Department of Environment evaluate, on sort of a broad scale, all these areas and any other areas they know about and let the Department of Environment give the government the information that the politicians need to consider whether or not that is a good idea. The Department of Natural Resources has done something similar for the IRM plan, and it would be good to ask the Department of Natural Resources for the costs and benefits associated with that option. Maybe there is some kind of a way to marry the two.
I guess what I am getting at is there is no process in effect right now to deal with all these proposals that are coming before the government. That is a really important thing to do so that people like you know what you are dealing with.
MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Chairman, first of all I want to congratulate all three, because you had excellent presentations. It was very educational, for me at least. I want to thank you for that. I got a couple of mixed messages here today, actually. We are talking about clear-cutting and stuff like that. That is not why I am here, I am more interested in the process of deciding what areas are on the protected list and which areas aren't. I followed this committee that the government set forth, I think there were approximately 20 or 21 meetings across the province. Isn't that correct?
I noticed in the media there was a lot of controversy on how this committee was made up and how the selection process was put in place. As I see the process, and I guess I have to recognize that I am an Opposition MLA and I am not a government MLA, but I see a lot of window dressing not only by government itself but by the MLAs. It is obvious that the MLAs - and I have to congratulate them - on the government side are promoting your type of plan, however they are obviously falling on deaf ears.
I don't like to be negative, particularly on these issues but it is just another example of the backbench not having any influence in the direction that the government is going forward in. My first question is, how do you feel we can arrive at this balance that you keep referring to?
MR. DEGOOYER: You made some good points about the process. We didn't really focus on the process too much because we are trying to move beyond that and talk about the positive things and the future. It is true that the IRM plan, there is a lot of controversy about how that plan was developed, because that plan was developed behind closed doors in each region by about a dozen government bureaucrats, most of them, all but one of them, being with the Department of Natural Resources. It wouldn't be accurate, I don't think, to see it as the government's plan because it is really only the vision of one government department. In Ontario and British Columbia, they recently went through similar processes. There they had public stakeholders at the table at open meetings, so all of this was out front. It had real public decision-making.
In Nova Scotia, the way it was designed was that the public could raise concerns with the Department of Natural Resources, we could give them information, but the government staff took that back behind closed doors and they disappeared for a couple of years. Then, two years later they said, we are finished, here is our plan. Of course, not a lot of people liked it because they weren't involved in designing that plan. That is a major drawback to what happened here in Nova Scotia. I don't know how to comment on the power of the backbench, it is something I am not too familiar with.
MR. BOUDREAU: It seems to be quite the topic, though, when we talk about the disagreement between which areas should be protected and which ones shouldn't. Your group is pretty adamant that there should be many more areas included on this list. What I want to hear is how your group or groups are approaching the government to re-examine this process.
MR. DEGOOYER: We are speaking to various MLAs, not just on the government side but on the Opposition side as well. We think that the MLAs will speak for their constituents and that they understand the public aspirations in their riding, perhaps, better than say Cabinet or Mr. Fage. I think what is missing is there is no process right now. There is so much uncertainty of what is going to happen with Crown lands because there hasn't been any direction from the government to say, this is our target or this is a process that we are going to follow.
I think it has to be recognized, and I don't think this is a big secret, that there is a bit of tug of war between the Department of Natural Resources, which has the development mandate, and the Department of Environment, which has the responsibility to move towards the previous commitments that the government made towards protecting land. Until the government comes out and makes a clear statement and says, this is how we are going to resolve these issues and this is our target or this is how we are going to do it, it is always going to be this kind of messy situation that we have now.
MR. EPSTEIN: Thank you all very much, these were excellent presentations that I think will help us all focus our minds on the problems associated with all of the different issues. Inevitably when we start talking about public lands, we found ourselves talking, in part, about private lands and as well about general forest and forestry policy. You can't escape. It is all tied in together. The range of problems that we have to deal with is a very large one. I think many of us are worried about forests and forestry both and look at, for example, even in a narrow way, traditional forestry extraction here as a very problematic industry for a whole variety of reasons, many of which you haven't touched on but some of which came up in the discussion.
Then there is the issue of private lands which were, by implication, mentioned. I was very struck by one of the comments made by my colleague, Mr. Langille, earlier in his response to your presentations when he suggested that the government might well look at the possibility of some form of regulation on private lands and not confine itself to the levers of public lands. Early on in his government's mandate, the Minister of Natural Resources, I believe at the time he first introduced either amendments to the Forests Act or perhaps some Forests Act regulations, was fairly adamant that his government wasn't interested in any regulation of private land at all. I hope there is at least some possibility of reconsidering that approach because it is certainly the case that I think there would be a lot of support among the public for some form of regulation on private lands.
Now to look at public lands and the issues that you have focused us on particularly today, again I was struck by something Mr. Langille said. He said, the Crown should support industry. In the abstract, that is a fair statement but I think it might mean different things to different people. We heard Ms. Archibald from TIANS say to us that indeed the Crown should support the tourism industry and the way to support the tourism industry is essentially to take the steps that have been suggested to us by the Public Lands Coalition and put in place a moratorium and do studies and consider all these other factors that are involved. That is a way in which indeed the Crown could support industry. That is a form of industry. I think there is another very important part of it, which is there are many industries that are located in urban areas which look to the quality of life that prevails in the province, of which the amenities of having access to Crown recreation areas and a pleasant place and a clean place to live, are very important. So that is another way in which the Crown clearly supports a whole range of other industries by making Nova Scotia a place where people would want to locate their businesses or develop their businesses and keep their businesses.
It really does come down, I guess, in terms of the hard focus on what we are going to do with Crown lands and the issues of forestry and mining. Here, I guess when we focus on that, that is where there might be a difference of view as to how the Crown should support industry. I take very seriously the points that the coalition made to us today about the percentage of land that is in public hands compared with other provinces. I believe the statistic in British Columbia is that 91 per cent of the land mass is owned by the provincial Crown. Now where 91 per cent of the land mass is owned by the provincial Crown, there is a much stronger argument for them to talk about opening up wilderness areas, in some respect, to mining and forestry and indeed the Crown, in a place like British Columbia, is the major partner of forestry and mining in terms of where they can have access to explore or extract simply because they own so much of the land. Here it is different and I guess that is your main point, that the opportunity for mining and forestry on private lands is abundant so we have to focus on Crowns. I agree with that. I think that is right and we have to look very carefully at what it is we do. So your point about a moratorium followed by studies seems to me very good.
What I really wanted to hear more comment on was what kind of studies you had in mind and I began to hear that, I think, in an answer to one of the previous questions just a minute ago. Were you saying that there are actually some studies that are in the works at the moment that the Department of Environment and Labour is doing and can you tell us about those? Can you tell us how long you envisage the studies would take that are needed, what kind of studies you have in mind? Can I just hear a bit more about that because that seems to me a very crucial aspect of what it is you are asking us to think about and implement.
MR. DEGOOYER: Ron Russell, when he was the Minister of Environment in the fall of 1999, he directed his staff at the Department of Environment to conduct a study, I think he called it a preliminary review of protected area options, or something to that effect, for two areas in northern Nova Scotia, Gully Lake, Eigg Mountain and James River. Eigg Mountain
and James River are in Antigonish County. That was two years ago and those studies, as I understand it, are still not complete because they are very detailed studies. I also understand that there is some involvement with the Department of Natural Resources and also I understand that there is a committee struck between the Department of Environment and Labour and the Department of Natural Resources to consider the work that the Environment Department did on those two areas and to try to come up with some sort of a - I don't know if they want to talk about it - joint recommendation or something like that. That is a very long, drawn out process, and probably that level of detail isn't required.
For Ship Harbour Long Lake, if the study is done, I can only hope that it won't take two years or three years to do because that is not good for anybody. It creates a lot of uncertainty and I don't think the people who want the wilderness like one that is drawn out. I don't think the industry likes that uncertainty either. Contrast that to a few years ago when the Department of Natural Resources, before the protected areas people were shifted to Environment, they did a broad study which took probably two years or three years on all the Crown land and they, out of that, recommended 31 proposed wilderness areas and they, before that, had a long list of 74 proposed wilderness areas that they considered.
So I guess what I am suggesting in terms of what type of study should be done, I think Gully Lake, Eigg Mountain and James River, Ship Harbour Long Lake should be fast-tracked as individual studies for those areas so that the status of those areas can be cleared up and then for the rest of the province, the Department of Environment and Labour should lead an assessment of the remaining Crown lands to identify what they believe are the last best remaining Crown lands that ought to be candidates for protection and to do a not too detailed, because it will just take too long, but a sort of a rough or - what do you call it - the economy version of the cost of identifying what the benefits of protecting those areas would be.
The other study that has to be done, or the other thing that has to be considered, is what are the impacts, if any, on the timber agreements that some of those Crown lands may be under because a lot of those Crown lands, which are advocated for protection, including Ship Harbour Long Lake, have been committed or partially committed for forestry. The government should also be aware of what has to happen with those agreements. Do they have to be renegotiated? Can the wood be found somewhere else? If there is compensation, how much is it? Can the province afford it? All those kind of questions need to be part of a look at all the wilderness areas.
MR. EPSTEIN: Can I have two very quick questions? I don't think it will take very long. One is, if you include the federally-owned national parks and the areas that the provincial government has put under protection, what percentage of our land mass is under protection?
MR. DEGOOYER: It is 8.3 per cent.
MR. EPSTEIN: Generally, there is an agreed upon rough target of around 12 per cent. Didn't that emerge from some discussions nationally among ministers - was it Ministers of Environment or Ministers of Natural Resources - a few years ago?
MR. DEGOOYER: There is a statement in the Sustainable Development Strategy for Nova Scotia, which cites 12 per cent and I think Canada, as a whole, has set 12 per cent as a target.
MR. EPSTEIN: The other thing I wondered was about wildlife corridors around the province because one of the things that emerges from your maps is you have these blue dots, for example, and then you have these other little blocks of land that are kind of sprinkled here and there, but I haven't heard any expression of the province as an organic whole and how it is that wildlife might be able to kind of move back and forth amongst the different regions. Has that been part of the thinking of either DNR in its IRM process, or of your coalition when they have been trying to think about how it is that the systems ought to be designed province-wide?
MR. DEGOOYER: We haven't forgotten about that. The coalition, what we are trying to do now is, as quickly as possible because we know the land is a disappearing wilderness, protect those large remaining Crown blocks where there is the public support for it, as you saw with those blue dots, do that first. Then we can start to look at corridors and connecting them up. However, two years ago a number of the groups in the coalition sponsored a workshop in Dartmouth where we invited scientists and ecologists from around the province; we had about 30 people there, to design a long-term vision for all of Nova Scotia, with core reserves and corridors connecting them all up.
Yes, there is a general concept plan which pretends for a moment that we don't have these public-private boundaries just to show how we would like to, as a vision, put these pieces together. That is probably something like a 100 year plan as opposed to our immediate focus, which is to try to hang onto the major building blocks for that type of vision.
MS. MARY ANN MCGRATH: Kermit, we have met before, a few times. You sort of know where I am coming from, for the benefit of the other two I will tell you. I am one of those people who is supposed to be an urban politician, but I was born in Parrsboro and raised, for most of my life, there, on and off. I know what wild land is supposed to look like. During the 45 years that I have lived in Halifax, permanently, the area I live in is Kearney Lake. That is as far into the hills as you can get and be in civilized Halifax. There are some people who would question whether or not that is civilized Halifax. My concerns are twofold. I have a great deal of support for Bill and the position he is in, and for the overall problem of how we strike this elusive balance between what we should allow lumber companies to do and what we need to protect for the future of the province and for a diversified economy.
Jennifer, I am interested in some of your comments. I am wondering if any position or study or detail already exists in what you think might be the long-range amount of land that we should be looking at in order to have a diversified, four-season, ecotourism economy. Do we have any idea of what kind of and what amounts of land we should be looking at to do that?
MS. ARCHIBALD: Kermit, do we know?
MR. DEGOOYER: We will go back to the assessments, just look at all the land and take a hard look at it. Certainly meeting those commitments would be one thing that all the coalition groups subscribe to, which is the map with the green blocks on it. That would be one target to try to reach.
MS. MCGRATH: But do we have any idea that if we say we could hit the 12 per cent target that we would have a comfort level in knowing that that 12 per cent target would provide us with enough land for a viable ecotourism industry in this province? Do we know that for a certainty? Do we have any way to measure that?
MR. DEGOOYER: I don't think so, my guess would be that you would want to err on the side of going high, that you have a lot of places to market. You probably want to be - and Jennifer and I have talked about this before - looking at regions of the province which can't offer wilderness as a drawing card, and Bill is probably familiar with what's happening at Whites Lake where there is a wilderness area there, one of the 31, and it is a real beehive of activity. There is the old train station in Musquodoboit Harbour, which is now a museum, it is a trail head for going out and exploring that wilderness area. They have had work crews in there building trails, and there are signs and interpretive things. I went out there and had a great time, had my lunch in Musquodoboit Harbour and bought gas there. It is a real drawing card.
There are places, like in Antigonish County, where they don't have any wilderness areas, they don't have that opportunity. Gully Lake and Eigg Mountain, James River, if they were protected they would be the only wilderness areas north of the Trans Canada highway on that very heavily-travelled tourism corridor between the New Brunswick border and Cape Breton. I guess we also have to look at where they are and how tourism can benefit from that also.
MS. ARCHIBALD: I also think that one of the things that the outside world - meaning the rest of Canada and the rest of the world - sees Nova Scotia is for our coastline. I think it is really quite disturbing that we only own 5 per cent of our coastline. People are coming to Nova Scotia to walk on our beaches, to see the rugged rocks, to see nature. As beautiful and spectacular as Halifax is - we market Halifax - they really want to see Peggy's Cove and the various natural tourist things that we are offering for them. That 5 per cent is really scary when you start to think about it, because in 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, are we
going to be able to get to the coastline, are we going to have Peggy's Cove and that is our one coastline that we are allowed to go see? I am talking in drastic measures but it is not in our too distant future that this could be possible.
MS. MCGRATH: I just want to congratulate you on the work, as a citizens' coalition, that you have done because I think that is valuable work. It rarely gets recognized, and I think it should be a lot more often.
MR. CHAIRMAN: We are getting near the moment of saying goodbye to everyone, but I want to go back to John MacDonell, you have a final word. Is there anyone else who would like to have a very quick word? Do you want to respond first, Pam?
MS. PAMELA LANGILLE: I just wanted to make a further comment to your comments, Howard, about the private land considerations and so on, dealing with that. I might suggest to the committee that they explore, if you haven't heard from the Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners and Operators Association recently. I was at their annual general meeting, and they were very interested in low impact forestry. It reflects what a lot of woodlot owners in the province would like to see. It gets into all the issues and difficulties that woodlot owners are faced with, where they have this large land base, needing support from, perhaps, politicians and so on, in terms of being able to understand and interpret those issues. That might give an avenue to be able to get some depth out of the private land and forestry issues.
MR. MACDONELL: I will try to be brief. I think, definitely, some flags need to be raised when it comes to forestry issues. I think some of your concerns, at least, could be dealt with if we did go to - and I am only thinking in terms of forestry, when it comes to mining this would have an effect - low-impact or some type of selective cutting, away from clear-cutting, it wouldn't certainly buy you some time. The problem I still see even with that is we have set no limit on the volumes that we cut. There are 5.4 million metres cubed of softwood cut, at least in studies to 1998, and 600,000 of hardwood, which comes out to about 6 million metres cubed, which is about 3 million cords.
There is less than 1 per cent of Nova Scotia's forest that is old growth - I will say it is less than 1 per cent that is 100 years or older - less than 3 per cent is 80 to 100 years old, 32 per cent is between 60 to 80 years old - right now that is really what we are cutting - and 38 per cent is 40 to 60 years old. At 30 cords to the acre, at our present cut, if we take an average across the province, in 16 years we will cut that 32 per cent that is 80 years old. That means that in 16 years the oldest the forest will be, basically, would be 76 years old, and that would be on the 40 to 60 years old, at the upper range, some of it will be 56 years old.
Looking at it on that basis, I would say we are probably overcutting by twice the amount. If we extended that time, instead of 16 years, to 32 years, we would have a 90 year old forest on the 60 year old growth now. So those are other issues. Along with stopping the clear-cut, we have to set a limit on the volumes that we cut and we have to put an annual
allowable cut. We can't hope that a recession in the United States is going to save our forests because it is not much of a strategy to protect jobs.
Anyway, that is a flag that I want to throw up for government members and I certainly hope, from the conversation I heard, if we bring our bill to - we amended the Forests Act and introduced it in the spring and hope to bring it for second reading to ban clear-cutting, that maybe there will be some support from government and other Opposition members to do that.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you, John, very much. I might just add, after we adjourn this meeting, could everyone stay just for 30 seconds while we discuss the next presenter, please.
Thank you, again. I guess there were a lot of interesting points that came across this table today. I will say that we have a land use plan in place and we have an IRM plan, so the process is there and somewhere in there we have to find a balance. We do, in my mind, have the capability of managing our public forests for a combined multiple use and again we must find a balance. It is true we have a long-standing commitment with the forest industry and it would be irresponsible for us to sterilize all publicly-owned lands. I think we all agree with that. So only through working in co-operation with organizations such as yours and through public input and consultation, will we find that balance.
I guess what I am saying is the work that you are doing is very crucial to the future of this province and we appreciate that in government and we certainly appreciate you being here today. We are honoured to have you and thank you so much.
MR. DEGOOYER: On behalf of the three of us, let me offer our thanks to all of you for coming to listen to our comments. We are glad that you are interested in this topic.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you.
Just before we go, I think everyone is in earshot and the only point I would like to make with regard to our next presentation, we do have some possible witnesses approved. It would be my suggestion that we have the Christmas tree producers come in because they will be swinging into action very soon and it would be perhaps timely to have them in in the near future. We are just looking for some direction for Mora. Also, I want to welcome Mora here to the committee. Mora has replaced Darlene. They did some shuffling in there and I hope you will enjoy it as much as Darlene did. We will have to individually thank Darlene for the service that she has provided us.
What is your feeling on that, folks, for the Christmas tree producers?
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Agreed.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay, well thank you so much. That gives some direction to our clerk to go ahead and thank you very much for being here.
[The committee adjourned at 10:59 a.m.]