Unfinished business – Help us expand the existing park to protect this irreplaceable natural area. Time is running out.

The Sandy Lake - Sackville River Regional Park Coalition has formed to support the efforts of the Sandy Lake Conservation Association and the Sackville Rivers Association to take care of important unfinished business. That is, to protect the area that stretches from the Hammonds Plains Road to the Sackville River and encompasses three lakes and several waterways within the Sackville River Watershed through the creation of the Sandy Lake - Sackville River Regional Park. The Coalition includes partners who share the long-term vision that the residents have worked so hard and long to bring to fruition for the benefit of the lakes and accompanying wildlife, to protect the Sackville River’s watershed, to become part of the Halifax region’s goal for a functioning Green Network Plan, and to provide a substantial park for public access to nature and recreation for this growing part of the city. The Sandy Lake - Sackville River Regional Park Coalition supports the urgent objective of protecting this area for future generations before it is too late.

Mission Statement: Sandy Lake - Sackville River Regional Park Coalition

“To preserve and protect over 2000 acres of wildlife and aquatic habitat surrounding the Sandy/Jack/Marsh Lakes and Sackville River area, Bedford as Sandy Lake - Sackville River Regional Park for historical, cultural, conservation, educational, and recreational use.” One thousand acres are now in public ownership as the Jack Lake Regional Park. The remaining 1,000 acres are under immense development pressures and need to be protected to maintain the integrity of the Sandy Lake to Sackville River watercourse and as a critical wildlife corridor between the Chebucto Peninsula and central and eastern mainland.

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In the late spring of 2017, the SLCA asked Dr. David Patriquin, Professor of Biology (retired), Dalhousie University, if he would undertake a “flora survey” of Sandy Lake and Environs as part the association’s efforts to ascertain whether the original ecological value of the area had survived the decades. Was it worth trying to protect the ecological integrity of the area? Dr. Patriquin expressed reluctance at first due to other commitments, but in his words “a single visit convinced me that it had to be done. I conducted field trips on 22 days over the period June 14 to Nov 1, 2017; a few were mostly on water (paddling), most were on land. It was a volunteer activity, there was no payment and no contract.” Dr. Patriquin’s studies of the Sandy Lake area are ongoing.

Dr. Patriquin subsequently launched a website www.versicolor.ca/sandylakebedford/ to report his observations and interpretations together with some integration of related documents produced by many others. The website is also intended to serve as a resource for others pursuing interests in the natural history of the area.

Dr. Patriquin notes that mostly what his study contributes is a description of the plants and plant communities (terrestrial and aquatic) that you see when you visit the area. Additionally, measurement of some limnological variables provides some update on the state of the surface waters. The descriptive studies included formal documentation of Old Forest ratings at 3 sites according to a DNR protocol. Two of those qualify as ‘Old Growth’, so with the already established Old Growth status for the peninsula hemlocks (by Ed Glover/DNR) that makes three sites that qualify as Old Growth in the area. Dr. Patriquin describes a ‘pit and mound’ topography at these sites which indicates the presence of old growth forest historically and underscores the importance of wind as a disturbance agent. The aquatic studies point to deterioration in oxygenation of the lake since the 1970s, while the pH conditions for salmonids have apparently improved. The fringing wetlands in Sandy and Marsh lakes and along the stream corridor to the Sackville River support healthy populations of amphibians and reptiles. Dr. Patriquin took many photos. Selections of the photos are posted in Google Photo albums which are given as links on his website.

Dr. Patriquin notes “I expect my explorations and the website to be ongoing, as my enthusiasm for Sandy Lake and Environs only increased during the course of the initial exercise. I view Sandy Lake and Environs as they were viewed in 1971: an asset to all of Halifax municipality, indeed to the whole province. I see it as a very special place, complementing not replicating other major natural assets of Halifax.”