Introducing Acacia Valley Conservation Lands: Key link in Acacia Valley Trails protected forever
05 Oct 2023
Located south of Digby near Hillgrove is our newly acquired Acacia Valley Conservation Lands, consisting of over 163 acres of land generously donated by Larry and Greta Goodwin, as part of ECCC’s Ecological Gifts Program. This property in the Kesputkwitk district has been in Larry’s family for generations, and ensuring its protection in perpetuity is of the utmost importance to them. This latest conservation win is also exciting as it represents the Nature Trust’s first protected lands in this part of the province.
Part of the 12-kilometre Acacia Valley Trail system, the property possesses a rich history and is incredibly sentimental to Larry’s family, as his grandparents bought the property in 1912. Some of Larry’s earliest memories were playing in the woods and fields on the property and he can even recall the trees his grandfather would tap for maple syrup.
In 1995, a federal program was established for fishermen who had lost their jobs through the Cod Moratorium, and a planned trail system was put in place along some of the properties in the area, including the Goodwins’, as a means to provide temporary employment for the affected fishermen. Then in 2012, the Department of Recreation in Digby contacted a group of property owners asking if they could do some repair work to the trail that had previously been built. Larry seized the opportunity and asked for permission to build onto the old trails along their property. This was just the start of a nearly three-year labour of love for Larry and Greta.
Larry set about to establish a trail network among his beloved woodland that could become a recreational site for the public. It was to become a place where others could enjoy the peaceful sounds of the bubbling brook, sit among the trees or enjoy a picnic lunch in the forest.
“After it was all done, I thought ‘if we can get 20 or 30 people a year to come and visit the trail, that would be great’,” says Larry. “The first hike that was advertised had over 40 people attend – more than I thought we’d get in a year. It was a great feeling.”
Over the years, Larry and Greta’s trail network has expanded, and now connects with a neighboring trail system situated on provincially owned land. Signage has been added and gradually this beautiful, yet secluded enclave of forest has become a popular spot for hikers.
Larry and Greta were already passionate about protecting their beloved land from development, so when they learned that the Nature Trust was interested in the conservation value of this place, and of the added tax incentives that are offered through the Ecological Gifts Program, they made the incredibly generous decision to donate their land for conservation.
“I like the trees, the plants, the animals – it’s just peaceful getting out into nature and I want it to continue. A little bit of work has gone into these trails, and I’d hate to see them destroyed. Somewhere down the line, if somebody like the Nova Scotia Nature Trust wasn’t overseeing it, it could possibly be cut down.”
Protecting this property is important for nature too. As part of the Acacia Valley Trails system, its securement represents a large conservation win for this area, as there are low levels of existing land protection here. This donation now provides safe habitat for multiple species of conservation concern, including the Canada Warbler, Eastern Wood-Pewee, and Blue Felt Lichen. Despite its recreational use and history of logging, a mix of mature forests remain heavily present throughout much of the area.
Larry and Greta’s gift has made a mark on nature, and their family’s legacy will continue for future generations. We are so grateful they’ve entrusted the Nature Trust to care for lands that mean so much to them, and we look forward to sharing this beloved place with generations to come. We hope to welcome the public to a guided hike here to celebrate this generous donation this coming spring, so watch for an invitation early next year.
Some additional securement funding was provided by the Canada Nature Fund Target 1 Challenge and the Nova Scotia Crown Share Land Legacy Trust, and stewardship endowment funds have been raised through Twice the Wild and the Land Legacy Trust. The Nature Trust will be working with the Trail Association and the Municipality of Digby to oversee the stewardship and care for the property.