Gold Miners encroaching on The Big Animals’ Lands

Welcome to the Liscomb Game Sanctuary

UPDATE July 30, 2018: Mining industry seeks land swap mechanism Chronicle Herald, July 30, 2018. Like a stuck record…
– View DNR response to the same proposal last fall: DNR says no mining access to Nova Scotia’s wilderness areas (Aaron Beswick in the Chronicle Herald, Nov 8, 2017.
– View Op-Ed by Dale Smith OPINION: Mining lobby on wrong track with land-swap concept (June 22 in the Chronicle Herald), responding to Op-ed by Sean Kirby June 5, 2018: COMMENTARY: Mining sector needs flexibility with protected lands.

An article in the Chronicle Herald reports that Atlantic Mining NS Corp (apparently belonging to Atlantic Gold) has filed documents for a federal EA (Environmental Assessment) of a proposed 250-hectare open-pit mine in the Liscomb Game Sanctuary. View:

Proposed gold mine in game sanctuary going to environmental assessment
Aaron Beswick in the Chronicle Herald (July 26, 2018)

Beswick reported earlier in the year that clearcutting, quarrying and gold exploration were occurring in the Liscomb Game Sanctuary. View

Nova Scotia’s game sanctuaries protect game, but not their habitat
Aaron Berwick for the Chronicle Herald, Feb 12, 2018.

I am guessing that Sean Kirby*, the alpha Executive Director of MANS, is looking at the mine proposed for the Liscomb Game Sanctary as a first concrete step in his efforts over the past year or so to get Protected Areas in NS opened to gold mining. Game Sanctuaries in Nova Scotia are kind of half way between unprotected and protected lands with the curious result, as Beswick wrote in Feb, that animals but not their habitat are protected in our Game Sanctuaries. (DNR thinking on that score may be similar to their thoughts about cats being more destructive to migratory birds than clearcutting – view Post, Jun 8, 2018)
*Self described as “a public affairs, corporate communications and government relations executive with national and international experience with the Canadian government and some of the world’s most successful corporations”.

Needless to say, the prospect of mining in the Liscomb Game Sanctuary, doesn’t sit well with the Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association.

“Legally, there isn’t a problem with what they’re proposing, just like legally there isn’t a problem with clearcutting in the Liscomb Game Sanctuary either,” Markovits [EFW member] said.

What we’re trying to get the province to understand is that a game sanctuary isn’t much good without habitat for the game.”

It seems Kirby, who has strong connections to the Liberals federally and provincially,  has the ear of the Ruling Party in NS, which recently announced that responsibilities for mining would be taken out of the Department of Natural Resources and transferred with the whole Dept of Energy to a new Dept of Energy and Mines; part of the rationale:  to “enhance economic development opportunities in the province”.

The CH articles also mention clearcutting in the Liscomb Game Sanctuary:

Large tracts of land in the sanctuary, founded in 1928 to protect caribou and moose habitat, have been clearcut by Northern Timber.

Northern Timber* purchased 475,000 hectares of land from the Pictou County pulp mill’s former owners, including portions within the game sanctuary, in 2010 courtesy of a $75 million loan from the province.

The Registry of Joint Stocks lists that company’s directors as former premier John Hamm, who is chairman of Northern Pulp’s board of directors, Northern Pulp mill manager Bruce Chapman, Halifax attorney John Roberts and Choong Wei Tan.

*Northern Timber is described as an “affiliate of Northern Pulp Nova Scotia Corporation“. See Mar 1, 2010 Press Release for info about the $75 million loan. Great Northern Timber is an entirely different company which recently purchased and restarted the shuttered Musquodoboit pellet mill

Randy Milton, manager of ecosystems and habitats for the NS Department of Lands and Forestry responded as follows to queries from the Chronicle Herald about the status of game sanctuaries and about clearcutting: sanctuaries [are] an “old designation that still exists on the books.” He said the legislation that created a series of game sanctuaries across the province during the 1920s did not deal with subsurface rights, so, in that respect, they are no different than any other land in the province. As for the clearcutting, Milton said clearcuts are also a form of habitat for some species.

Wow. Encouraging words from our  Manager of Ecosystems and Habitats for the Department of Lands and Forestry!

And Mr. Kirby: I guess he’s on his way to first base.

I had been thinking that The Mill and Forest Biomass will remain as major contentious issues once the elusive Report from the Independent Review is finally out. I now realize mining is another one. Seemingly with some foresight, the Ruling Party has ensured that major contentious issues to do with forests and wildlife will be split between at least two departments.

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