There is currently a campaign to create an Ingram River Wilderness Area and a public consultation survey for these crown lands (Former Bowater lands). The St Margaret’s Bay Stewardship Association (SMBA) has a great website about the project. On it SMBA are looking to partner with a mountain bike group to develop trails. Could be a good opportunity if anyone is interested in getting involved. Formalizing trail agreements on these crown land could follow the model set by the McIntosh Run Trails. It’s been done before and partnering with an Environmental Non Profit is a great way to generate wider public support.
More info here:
Crown public input into the future of these crown lands - online survey:
If the clear cuts keep going there won’t be much wilderness left to protect.
Edit: I just did the survey, and I encourage others too as well. During the 2012 consultations no cycling groups were invited as stakeholders, and based on the meeting minutes cycling wasn’t really discussed. What We Heard in the Western Crown Land Planning Consultation | novascotia.ca
I also completed the online survey and encourage others too. https://novascotia.ca/natr/consultation/Ingram-river.asp
This is a great initiative, with opportunities for sanctioned trails and conservation. This is a huge and beautiful area, there are existing trails and room for more, and an existing road network. There is no need to wait to develop a “strategic plan” for MTBs with Halifax in this case, as it is Crown land with an existing template (McIntosh Run / MRWA).
It might also be worth getting directly involved with the SMBSA particularly if you live in the area. https://www.heartofthebay.ca/
My biggest concern with a Wilderness Area designation is the possible exclusion of mountain bikes. My secondary concern would be the exclusion of the moto trail users, who seem to be getting squeezed out of everywhere, even though they do far less damage than the ATVs.
I always thought Motos did significantly more damage to single track than ATVs. ATVs are restricted by their width but motos can fit down trails and then dig deep ruts in puddles and chutes.
I find that a lot of the moto riders on the Bowater trails are responsible and haven’t been digging up the trails. The ATV users on the other hand have chewed up the double tracks and made bogs out of a lot of low lying spots.
I was thinking more wider and not just that area!
“Wilderness” designation in NS does not necessarily exclude MTBs. This is not the U.S., with their current rigid interpretation of their Wilderness Act.
The key thing, obviously, is for people who ride MTBs to be involved in the advocacy and developing a management plan from the get-go. The SMBSA is asking for that. Seems like they want partners and helpers.
NSORRA advocates for responsible moto use, so might well be in contact with SMBSA. NSORRA seems like a pretty effective organization (to me as an outsider) so I’d leave that advocacy to them.
I was concerned to see that cycling wasn’t even on the list for activities you do there currently and that I had to write it in, in the other section… Would love to see a gravel race event here in the future.
Cycling was included in one of the survey options - Opportunities to promote personal well-being and active lifestyles (e.g. hiking, running, walking, cycling, reading, creativity, meditation).
But doesn’t hurt to write it in under “Other” anyway. I wrote in mountain biking.
Biking is allowed in a Wilderness Area if you have a formal trail agreement for it (section 23 (2) of the Wilderness Areas Act). There is a process for a group to apply to develop a bike (or hiking, or ATVing) trail within a Wilderness Area that starts with getting in touch with the NSE Protected Areas Regional Coordinator for that area.You can find the designated trails on the protected areas map here: Interactive Map | Parks and Protected Areas | novascotia.ca (you have to turn on the NS Environment Designated Bike Trails layer)
Even without a WA designation having trail agreements on crown land can help “protect” the landscape by having it occupied and used for recreation in a natural state.
I’m taking my information from the FAQ on the Nova Scotia Environment website, specifically;
Q: Can I use a vehicle, bicycle, snowmobile, or motorboat in a wilderness area?
To help protect the environment and wilderness experience, vehicle and bicycle use is generally prohibited in wilderness areas.
This, and what I’ve read in the act, indicates to me that bicycles are not permitted by default and would require a separate agreement to be in place to allow mountain bike trail development.
Currently the land doesn’t have a Wilderness Area designation. I doubt that Dept. of Environment, or whomever is currently the controlling entity, would entertain a land use agreement without an overarching plan in place for the area. I suspect it will be a long time before we see any meaningful sanctioned trail development in there.
You are right that without a trail agreement bikes are prohibited within Wilderness Areas. Which is one reason why developing a trail agreement would be worthwhile.
Crown Land that is not designated as a Park, Wilderness Area, or Nature Reserve is managed by the Department of Lands and Forestry. They are the ones currently conducting the online survey for public input into this area.
The Mcintosh Run trails are also on undesignated crown land managed by NS L&F. MRWA proposed and negotiated trail agreements on this and the neighbouring land owned by HRM. The same kind of thing could happen here if there were a group of people willing to push it through the process. Joining forces with the St Margaret’s Bay Stewardship Association to work on a trail agreement could be a good starting place.
I wonder if a trail agreement was in place with Lands and Forestry prior to the possible Wilderness Area designation would the future controlling authority, Department of Environment, honour that agreement if the area is designated?
Good question. There is a public and stakeholder engagement process before Wilderness Areas are designated. Here’s what’s written in the NS Parks and Protected Areas plan about preexisting trails and roads:
"Connecting Routes: In new wilderness areas, if a vehicle-use route is an important link within a regional trail network, it may be designated for continued vehicle use through an agreement with a group or an organization. Nova Scotia Environment holds agreements governing specific routes with the All Terrain Vehicle Association of Nova Scotia (ATVANS) and the Snowmobilers Association of Nova Scotia (SANS).
During the past several years, Nova Scotia Environment has worked with ATVANS and SANS and other vehicle users to discuss and identify priority connecting routes within potential new wilderness areas or wilderness area additions. Some new wilderness areas in this plan include key routes that will be considered for trail-use agreements. Other, secondary routes in wilderness areas will be closed to recreational off-highway vehicle use.
Other Vehicle Use: Some roads or routes have been left outside the boundary of the new protected areas, and will continue to be managed as Crown land. These “excluded routes” are highlighted in the online map, and will be shown on final boundary maps for each area. In due course, signs will also be erected at main access points indicating routes that are open or closed to vehicle use."