Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Carters Beach in Queens County is one of 61 wilderness areas, nature reserves and provincial parks across the province that the Nova Scotia government intends to protect, according to an announcement made by Premier Iain Rankin on April 22, Earth Day.
Few likely would deny the area needs protecting.
Located in Port Mouton, Carters Beach is listed as one of the top 10 beaches in the province. But its popularity comes at a price.
During peak times in the summer up to 500 visitors may be on it at one time, which puts a strain on the beach known for its ecological and archaeological significance and as a habitat of the Piping Plover.
Residents in the area along with the Region of Queens Municipality (RQM) have been trying to get better controls from the province for several years. There are no permanent washroom facilities at the beach nor sufficient trash bins. Parking has also been an issue, with a parking lot that is only large enough for about 15 vehicles, leaving visitors to park along the residential road leading to the beach area.
RQM has not promoted the beach since 2016 as the area doesn't have the capacity to host a large number of people. Its most recent action came late last fall when RQM council and staff called on the provincial government to create a task force to deal with the problem.
The announcement made April 22 may bring some changes, including the addition of more parking spaces.
"The Departments of Lands and Forestry and Transportation and Active Transit are consulting the public on several sites, including Carters Beach," reported Andrea Frydl, a spokeswoman for the Nova Scotia Departments of Land and Forestry and Transportation and Active Transit. "We will explore several options to address parking at Carters Beach so the public can safely enjoy this protected area."
Meanwhile, among the 60 other areas designated for protection are Eighteen Mile Brook Wilderness Area (Queens County), Port L'Hebert Provincial Park (Queens County) and Ponhook Lake Nature Reserve (both Queens and Lunenburg Counties). Additionally in Lunenburg County, Cookville Provincial Park, Kingsburg Beach Provincial Park and Pinehurst Provincial Park were identified for protection.
"Nova Scotia has protected more provincial Crown land than other jurisdictions in Canada, and I am committed to continuing this practice. I know how important our parks and protected areas are for enjoyment, quality of life and the wellbeing of Nova Scotians," Premier Iain Rankin said in an April 22 news release.
Wilderness areas are protected under the Wilderness Protection Act, which provides a legal framework for establishing, managing, protecting and using Nova Scotia's designated wilderness areas.
The primary objective of the act is to protect natural processes, biological diversity and outstanding natural factors. Prohibited activities in the areas include mining, forestry, dams, building a structure, altering the surface of the land, and damaging plants, animals and their habitats.
The province will be consulting with Nova Scotians on the proposed sites with a 60-day online consultation process.
The proposed 61 new protected areas feature an important mix of natural environments that Nova Scotians want protected, including coastline, mature forests, waterways, corridors for wildlife, and parks that are accessible, Environment and Climate Change Minister Keith Irving commented in the news release. "The diversity of these parks and protected areas is an impressive representation of the extraordinary beauty of our province," he said.
The additional sites go toward supporting the Nova Scotia government's new goal of protecting 14 per cent of the land in the province.