Wentworth Valley on the front lines of tourism versus clearcutting in Nova Scotia

As I set out in the a.m. on the Summer Solstice, I caught the last bit of a CBC Information Morning piece on the Wentworth Valley clearcut. I had missed earlier reports about it, the first, apparently, by Carol Hyslop: Sensory Assault on the Wentworth Valley, Six Rivers, May 31, 2017.

Wentworth has always been known for its beautiful valley. I remember when it was truly beautiful…so beautiful it twisted your heart…Life for those who care for the valley has been a continuous matter of fighting for the things which should be their right…Yesterday, on my way home from points north in Wentworth I suddenly noticed an odd change in the outline of our mountains. Someone was cutting a huge number of trees at the top of Higgins Mountain!

On June 21, the LocalExpress published a well researched op-ed by Joan Baxter:

OPINION: How a government loan helped wreck Wentworth Valley vistas

A government press release at the time spoke of ‘protecting jobs and the environment’ and said the deal would ‘protect the land as a forestry asset.’

Photo courtesy of Raymond Plourde

Looking up at the gaping hole in the treed horizon of the western slopes of Wentworth Valley, or gazing at the devastation from the edge of the clearcut while the wind howls over the denuded terrain, the phrase ‘protect the land’ is not the one that springs to mind.

It’s an illuminating if disheartening documentation of the many millions of NS taxpayer dollars that have directly or indirectly subsidized this particular cut and a lot more.

@joan_baxter provided this info in a tweet replying to @JordanSprague @SarahRitchieCTV: “More on the loan (even a map of the land that #NorthernPulp bought using the loan from NS) #nspoli : https://novascotia.ca/news/smr/2010-03-01-forestry.asp.”

The CBC piece and an earlier report in the Truro Daily News focus on the local residents’ concerns about impacts of the clearcuts on their efforts to promote outdoor tourism in the Wentworth area:

When you drive into the valley, on both sides are these big beautiful mountains, one of them is the highest peak in the mainland – we have been working on a tourism plan for the area to encourage people to use our trails for hiking, biking, skiing, we want people to explore the valley and its wilderness – clearcutting will ruin the nature of it.
Jordan Sprague (President of Wentworth Community Development Council) cited by Jonathan Riley in Truro Daily News June 16, 2017

Wentworth has long been known as a shining tourism star, and then to clear-cut in the middle of it, just doesn’t make any sense. Ski Wentworth director Gregor Wilson cited by CBC June 21, 2017

Clearcutting at Higgins Mt in 2011
Click on image to view video

This was hardly the first skirmish in the Tourism vs Clearcutting battle – a Google search took me back to Sept 2001, when the N.S. Legislature Standing Committee on Resources heard from Jennifer Archibald of the the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia. Said Jennifer (bolding is mine):

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 aesthetics 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…the tourism industry must be at the table in developing long-range management plans for public lands.”

The Government has heard, apparently, but we’ll have to endure a summer of more destruction before we possibly see any possibilities for change.

Minister Margaret Miller says govt is hearing that people aren’t happy with clearcutting, changes are coming in forestry review.

First post-elexn cabinet meeting this AM. New Natural Resources Minister addresses recent clearcut near Wentworth, says nothing govt can do.

@SarahRitchieCTV June 22, 2017

Thx to RP for the tweet links

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