Approximately 34705 ha or about 12.7 percent of Queens County land consists of special places protected by all three levels of government, the private sector and non-governmental organizations. This may well be one of the highest percentages of protected land in any county of Nova Scotia.
Landforms, Flora and Fauna Three of the 31 Nova Scotia Wilderness Areas are found within all or part of Queens County.
Lake Rossignol Wilderness Area consists of 4120 hectares. It represents both the LaHave Drumlins Natural Landscape and the Lake Rossignol Hills Natural Landscape and contributes to the mosaic of protected lands in interior southwestern Nova Scotia along with Kejimkujik National Park and the Tobeatic and Tidney River Wilderness Areas. The rolling hardwood hills and large interconnected lakes of Lake Rossignol Wilderness provide important wildlife habitat and offer peaceful recreational opportunities.
Tidney River Wilderness Area consists of 17,800 hectares, about half in Queens County. It is representative of the Sable-Broad River Basin and consists of large expanses of poorly drained flats with isolated hills and eskers rising above the surrounding bogs and swales. It protects the largest undisturbed tract of imperfectly to poorly drained conifer forest in the province.
Wet areas are characterized by black spruce, larch, and fir forest types, expansive bog complexes and red maple swales. The wetlands associated with the Broad, Tidney and Sable rivers are relatively pristine and provide habitat for rare plants. White pine towers atop eskers that also support a red maple, oak and white birch forest. It includes a series of runs, rapids and stillwaters that offer excellent wilderness canoeing and camping during seasons of high water.
Tobeatic Wilderness Area consists of 103,780 hectares spans five counties, about 3800 ha lying within Queens County which is one of its principal gateways. It is the largest remaining wild area in the Maritimes. It is characterized by barren and semi-barren landscapes with outstanding undisturbed glacial landforms including esker fields, moraines, kettles and outwash plains. It protects remote and undisturbed wildlife habitat, expansive wetlands, pockets of old-growth pine and hemlock forest and the headwaters of 9 major river systems flowing to both the Atlantic and Fundy coasts. It makes a significant contribution to the protection of biodiversity in Nova Scotia. The Tobeatic hosts spectacular forests of old-growth pine and hemlock and outstanding examples of fire barrens. It also is home to the largest population of moose representing the true Nova Scotia gene pool.
Queens also is the site of the Ponhook Lake Nature Reserve covering some 43 hectares on 39 separate island and shoreline properties on six lakes along the Medway River system. It is home to populations of globally, nationally and provincially rare plants of the Atlantic Coastal Plain including: Redroot, Golden-crest, Virginia Meadow-beauty, Buttonbush, Long’s Bulrush and Swamp Milkweed.
Nature reserves are identified for their unique, rare or outstanding natural features, such as old-growth forests or the habitats of rare or endangered plants or animals. There are seven nature reserves in Nova Scotia covering 1400 hectares.
Kejimkujik National Park covers two distinct sites. The inland location is centred on Kejimkujik Lake and has an area of 38100 ha. The Atlantic coastline Keji Adjunct is 2200 ha. It is the only inland national park of Canada in the Maritimes, features abundant lakes and rivers ideal for canoeing. The lush woodlands and gently rolling landscapes are home to a variety of wildlife. Visitors will find historic canoe routes, portages and many beautiful hiking trails in the park. It is home to the Northern Ribbon Snake, Blanding’s Turtle and the Southern Flying Squirrel all of which are species at risk. The seaside adjunct is a breeding site for another species at risk, the Piping Plover. The entire seaside adjunct and about 34% of the inland park lie within Queens County.
Shelburne Canadian Heritage River is a 53 kilometer long tributary of the Mersey in the heart of western Nova Scotia and drains a watershed of 27,739 hectares. It crosses two distinct geographic regions flowing over the Granite Barrens from its headwaters at Buckshot Lake to Irving Lake and over Quartzite Plains from Irving Lake to Lake Rossignol. It includes pure stands of large, old white pine and high quality old-growth hemlock stands one of which on Irving Lake has been identified as an International Biological Program (IBP) site. It supports large black bear and moose populations and excellent examples of extensive glaciation including eskers. It connects readily by portage with four other rivers, the Tusket, Sissiboo, Roseway and Mersey. It is perhaps best known as the “unknown” of which Albert Bigelow Paine wrote in his book the Tent Dwellers which was published in 1909.
Thomas Raddall Provincial Park covers an area of 650 hectares. Overlooking Port Joli Harbour on Nova Scotia's South Shore, Thomas H. Radddall Provincial Park is a nature lovers' haven. The park is just across the harbour from Kejimkujik Seaside Adjunct National Park, and there are four migratory seabird sanctuaries nearby. The park offers visitors a wide range of outdoor experiences, including hiking, kayaking, camping, picnicking, sight seeing, or relaxing on the beach.
Day Use Parks in Queens include Cameron’s Lake, Ten Mile Lake and Summerville Beach provincial parks. The Region of Queens owns and maintains several parks including Beach Meadows, Path Lake, Fort Point Lighthouse Park, Cobb’s Park, Veterans Memorial Park, Privateer Park, Port Medway Lighthouse Park, Cobb’s Park and Tupper Park. The Trestle Trail and Meadow Pond Brook Walking Trail round out municipal park properties. Brooklyn Marina Park, Veterans’ Memorial Park in Greenfield and Miriam Hunt Park in Caledonia are community owned. Bowater Mersey Paper Company owns and maintains the Port L’Hebert Pocket Wilderness and Pine Grove Park. Beaches outside parks which are also protected under the provincial Beaches Act are Carters and Ragged Harbour in addition of course, to proclaimed parks beaches.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada has also been active in Queens County with acquisition of several sites. Most recently the Region of Queens Municipality transferred ownership of three properties to the Nature Conservancy of Canada to ensure protection in perpetuity. They include Toby Island (7.28 ha) at the entrance of Medway Harbour, Long Lake bog (218.5 ha) south of Toney Lake in the Mersey watershed and Shingle Mill Bog (82.4 ha) just east of Eight Mile Lake in the Medway watershed. These properties are the residue of the old Liverpool Township grant of the early 1760s.
Bowater Mersey has also been a contributor to the Nature Conservancy inventory in Queens with donated easements at Northeast Bay (240 ha) in the Rossignol Wilderness Area and Tidney River (948 ha) in the Tidney Wilderness Area all of which will be managed by the province as in-holdings in Wilderness Areas.
The Canadian Wildlife Service has established two migratory bird sanctuaries in Queens at Port Joli (280 ha) and Port L’Hebert (350 ha). These long narrow inlets were formed through glaciation and provide sheltered environments, tidal flats and abundant eel grass which combined with milder South Shore winters, provide excellent over-wintering habitat for Canada Geese and American Black Ducks.
Ducks Unlimited has been a partner with the Region of Queens and the province in habitat improvements at the Meadow Pond. This small parcel of wetland comprising 12.5 ha is owned by the Region and is protected under the Liverpool Municipal Planning Strategy.
Port Mouton Island The Region of Queens has requested the Minister of Natural Resources to protect the Back Beach on the northeast end of Port Mouton Island located at the mouth of Port Mouton Bay. It is the site of a fairly extensive white sand beach, dune and wetland complex. The beach is approximately 600 meters in length and the entire complex covers an area of approximately 21 hectares. It also is an excellent protected anchorage with water of sufficient depth that vessels may ride at anchor very close to shore without fear of grounding. The bottom is sandy and strewn with drowned erratics. The water is crystal clear and abounds in shellfish. This complex appears undisturbed and in likelihood is little changed from 1604 when the DeMonts expedition arrived here when it was mapped by Samuel de Champlain, the expedition’s geographer. The minister has (January 2007) confirmed that this request is under active consideration.
Archaeology Special places are not exclusive to natural landscapes, flora and fauna. The archaeological potential in Queens is enormous, especially for better understanding of pre-contact societies. Major work was carried out on the lower Mersey River in the summer of 2005 when over 125 individual sites were identified between the outlet of Lake Rossignol and Milton. Four were archaic sites, one of which covered quite an extensive area. One observation is that the summer’s work which was only surficial, has increased our potential knowledge of pre-contact times by as much as 20%. The archaeological survey was conducted in conjunction with retrofits of the six Mersey River hydro-electric dams and was paid for by the Nova Scotia Power Corporation. It is also well known that there is a significant presence of kitchen middens along the shores of Port Joli Harbour, some proximate to Thomas Raddall Provincial Park.. A less well known archaeological gem is to be found in the McGowan Lake head pond which is home to a petroglyph resource that rivals the better known site at Kejimkujik National Park. That work also was funded by the Nova Scotia Power Corporation in the early 1980s when work was being done on the McGowan Lake hydro-electric dam. Both at this site and on the Mersey, the flooded river valley protects the archaeological resource from the ravages of curio seekers. This is also the case for the Lake Rossignol reservoir where little research has been conducted, but which is widely recognized as having huge potential for pre-contact and immediate post-contact sites. There is also potential for post-contact archaeological research in Brooklyn where from 1634-35 Nicholas Denys operated the first sedentary fishing station in what is now Canada.
Partners There are many organizations in Queens that play a central role in furthering our understanding of the importance of wildlife habitat. Two of the best known are the Queens County Fish and Game Association and the Nova Scotia Guides Association.
The Southwest Nova Scotia Biosphere includes the five counties of western Nova Scotia, all municipal units, the private sector, NGOs and a number of just plain private citizens. In essence its function is to bring all users together to cooperate in establishing sustainable practices throughout the biosphere. It is accredited by the United Nations.
Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute has been established in Kempt at the site of the former Bowater Mersey Medway District Office. It now serves as a field station for wildlife research and includes as clients Parks Canada, Acadia and Dalhousie. While not in its own right a “special place” it nonetheless is essential to ensuring we come to understand better our special places, their flora and fauna and their relationships with human kind. Queens continues to lead the way in protecting special places. This long-standing record is a tribute to federal, provincial and municipal governments, to private industry, to non-governmental organizations and to the people of Queens who cherish the natural beauty and wildlife surrounding them and who have worked assiduously to protect these special places for future generations and to protect some very special places just because they are there. Much of this information was taken from websites maintained by government and non-governmental agencies.